October 4, 2016
That nip in the air signals not only that autumn is officially here, but that pumpkin patches and apple orchards have their best produce ready for you. And don’t think of these as just places to pick up a future Jack-O-Lantern or apples for baking. No, these seasonal entertainment zones feature corn mazes and hayrack rides for a break from the ordinary weekend routine.
FUN FOR EVERYONE: Red Barn Pumpkin farm near Muscatine in southeast Iowa has no admission charge to visit and enjoy. Games and activities on this farm are ideal for children ages six and under, but all ages are welcome.
“Finding the perfect pumpkin should be a memorable event for your family or group, and we work to make sure that it is,” says Darin Leach, who helps his family operate Red Barn Pumpkin farm, a mile north of Muscatine in southeast Iowa. “We have a variety of fun activities that children six years old and under will enjoy.” You’ll also want to visit their on-farm store. Like most Iowa apple orchards and pumpkin farms, the Leach family operation has a website redbarnpumpkinfarm.com.
Timely rains and warm September have produced plentiful crop
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey is encouraging Iowans to get out and enjoy Iowa apples, pumpkins and other fall produce by visiting one of the many farms that sell directly to consumers or at the local farmers market. Timely rains and a warm September have helped produce a plentiful apple and pumpkin crop in Iowa.
“Visiting a local apple orchard or pumpkin patch give you an opportunity to enjoy the freshest locally grown produce and also help support these hardworking families and give them the chance to showcase their farm,” Northey says. “We are hearing reports of very good apple and pumpkin crops across the state, and now is the time to get out and enjoy fresh, Iowa-grown produce and make great family memories.”
Apple orchards, pumpkin patches are scattered throughout Iowa
There are more than 900 acres of apple trees in the state comprised of dozens of great varieties. Orchards are located throughout the state. Visiting a local orchard is a great way to find new varieties that may not be available in a grocery store. Ask to try a sample and be adventurous.
Pumpkin production has nearly tripled in the last three decades to well over 900 acres at last count. In addition to family fun carving a jack-o-lantern, pumpkins are also an extremely versatile ingredient in cooking. Pumpkins make great pies, casseroles and soups. Pumpkin seeds and flowers can also be cooked and enjoyed.
Many farms also host fall festivals with great family activities such as hayrack rides, corn mazes, local music and other activities in addition to the opportunity to pick your own apples or pumpkins. A list of apple growers and pumpkin patches can be found on the Iowa Department of Ag’s directory at idalsdata.org/fmnp/index.cfm.
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