The Great Pumpkin: Families search for perfect orbs

Brian Loewen, owner and operator of Loewen's Upholstery in Newton, stands near some fabric used in the business. He's been at 201 W. First St. in Newton since 2010. Wendy Nugent/HC Now

By Wendy Nugent, Newton Now

NEWTON—Chris Junk prowled the rural Newton field like a lion hunting its prey. He wanted to find the right prize, the right orange orb to take home.

The North Newton resident was in search of the perfect pumpkin at Patchwork Farms in rural Newton. While others he went to the patch with, Christine Matthews and kids, Steven Jessup and Leah Jessup, were quick to find their orange and white fall squashes, Junk walked around, checking out the vined pumpkins step by step.

They were just a few of the people Saturday at the pumpkin patch located at 368 E. 70th in Newton. The patch, formerly Papa’s Pumpkin Patch, has scaled back and been renamed since they don’t plan to just be a pumpkin patch anymore.

“It’s all still a family farm and a family business,” said Kristi Unruh, one of the owners.

They also plan to have a live nativity during the holidays through their church and hope to have strawberry picking there, as well.

“We have a variety of pumpkins,” Unruh said.

There’s the usual big orange ones, along with the more artisan pumpkins, like warty ones, white ones, green ones and Cinderella-type pumpkins.

To make it easy, all pumpkins are 50 cents a pound, and there’s no admission.

Patchwork Farms doesn’t have the kids’ activities anymore, like the slide and corn areas, but they do have places to take photos with face cutouts and they’re selling their pumpkin bars, which are like brownies, but with pumpkin and chocolate chips.

They did away with the activities, but not necessarily because of the pandemic, Unruh said.

The pumpkins take up about one to two acres and are a short walking distance from the parking area. There are pumpkin-toting carts available for use, as are vine cutters.

Last year, they closed because the heavy rains kept them from planting, Unruh said, and they had some family changes going on.

There’s a reason they sell pumpkins.

“Fall is probably one of my favorite seasons, and just having people out and sharing a farm with people,” Unruh said.

As of about 2 p.m., Saturday, Patchwork Farms had about 15-20 people out that day.

“For opening day, that’s good,” Unruh said, adding that’s because it’s nice to be kinda slow on opening day.

Throughout the years, the farm’s goal was always to have free admission, Unruh said.

In terms of being safe regarding the pandemic, there is hand sanitizer there if people wish to use it and they’re leaving it up to people whether they want to wear masks or not, since everything is outside.

They’re going to see how their new arrangement goes this year.

“We’ve had good comments this morning—‘Good, you’re open,’” Unruh said.

Hours

Patchwork Farms hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturdays and 1-6 p.m., Sundays. Their opening weekend was this past weekend and they’ll run through Oct. 25.