Back to the story…growing up in a small town and surrounded by family I learned a slower pace of life. I learned how to do tasks and skills that the majority of my friends never even knew about. At the time I knew there was something magical about this place I grew up, but it was the 90’s and everything was slower, easier, brighter, and a little more magical. The farm still had rotary phones, and gravel roads, and barns that my great grandfather had build. We had family that would come at Christmas, and church members that would come to the farm, and they all shared stories of this place, this family, and the meals they shared and the interconnected lives they led. To me it felt like I had uncles that were still alive, even though they’d been buried in the family cemetery long ago. Back then I dreamed of owning the farm and helping the community—but I didn’t quite know how. When I was five I started growing pumpkins. I 100% believe that was the beginning of what led me to being here with FOLK today. Over the years my pumpkin patch grew and grew. I would like to say I did it alone, but, hah, I’m terrible at hoe-ing. For me the fun was picking them, arranging them, and decorating with them. Each year I would search the seed catalogs for new and interesting heirloom varieties. I’d mail in my check and wait for the seeds to arrive. I still remember every detail of the patches, the seasons, the sun blazing down, and the joy of of watching them turn from green to yellow to orange as the summer faded into fall.
I remember the old wooden hoes we used, left over from the days of growing tobacco on the farm. Originally there was a long one with a wide blade that was considerably taller than me. There was a shorter one that had been broken off and fit just right. I remember the patches that we’d rotate each year between watermelons and pumpkins. I remember the weeds that would grow higher than my head and create forests to run through and forests to search through. I remember driving the truck through the patches collecting them each fall. I remember the people that would help it all come together in the fall. My aunt would help surround the tree in front of the old farm house with corn stalks cut from the big field that cut between our yard and her’s. I remember my mom helping me count the money I’d make. I remember my dad and my grandfather who would drive the tractor in the spring, help me plant the seeds, would spend far more time tending to the plants than me, and would help carry out the ones too big for me to carry. I remember a lot of the people that would come buy pumpkins every fall. They would fill their cars, leave their money in the fish bowl, and head back to town. Each fall I hear stories of how they miss my pumpkin patch—perhaps one day I will bring it back.
It grew from a simple grouping of pumpkins around the big maple trees in the front yard. A little black table sat beside them holding the fish bowl. It grew each year bigger and bigger until I had a massive tent in front of the barn that I’d decorate each fall with family antiques and primitives perfect for the season. In my mind I’m having trouble turning all the memories into words, in my mind I can picture every site, and in my mind you can too. You can picture the creek that ran through the farm, you can picture the white farmhouse and the tall maples, and you can picture my family there on the farm. You can see the gleam in my eyes as I think about the year I introduced my community to blue pumpkins. In my mind you are standing there with me—and in my mind all of my family that has died is standing there with me too.
At the time I didn’t realize people would come from surrounding states to buy my pumpkins. I was just enjoying the little things, and enjoying the idea that I got to carry on a bit of the farm.