Where to find the best 'pick your own pumpkin' farms in Derbyshire
Pumpkin growers are expecting to be inundated with families looking for the plumpest produce to take home and carve for Halloween.
Charlie Village and his girlfriend Frankie James-Birch are in their fourth year of growing pumpkins at Oak Tree Farm, Barlow, and have nurtured 40,000 plants in readiness for the public to pick.
“The pumpkins have done really well,” said Charlie. “It’s been a nice, warm summer and we’ve had a good growing season.”
Village Pumpkins will be opening their gate to the public on October 2 when the first arrivals will get the pick of the bunch.
Frankie said: “We always say the best time to pick pumpkins is early on... the reason being there are so many to choose from. The fields are hardly picked over and it’s easy to find monsters out there.”
Pumpkins come in all shapes and sizes at Oak Tree Farm where 12 acres of land are devoted to growing them. Charlie, 29, said: “We’ve got the standard orange Jack O’Lanterns, we’ve got all sorts of different squash and gourds. We’ve got a very green, duck egg coloured pumpkin called Crown Prince and that’s a really nice culinary pumpkin.
“It’s great to see the kids running around, absolutely loving it. They can push the wheelbarrows around the field and find which pumpkin they want.”
Charlie has built a 12ft high chair for children to sit on and have their photos taken and there are two old tractors for the kids to clamber aboard.
Newborn piglets, due to be born in time for the pumpkin-picking season, will be a popular attraction at the farm which has six adult pigs, 100 chickens and 25 cattle.
Frankie, 27, said: “We had a primary school from Sheffield a couple of years ago and I think some of them had never seen a pig or a cow in real life, they were absolutely fascinated.
"Last year was probably our busiest year because people were desperate to get out and do something.”
Village Pumpkins on Johnnygate Lane is open on the weekends of October 2 and 3, 9 and 10,16 and 17 and then from October 18 to 31. Opening times are 9am to 5pm.
Ashover Pumpkins and Sunflowers at Eastwood Hall Farm, Eastwood, is in its third year of selling pumpkins although it has been a family-run farm for more than 100 years.
Chris Tomlinson, who works alongside his 63-year-old father and 88-year-old grandfather, both called Allen, said: “We set the business up as the past 20 years have been very difficult for farming and we needed to diversify. I needed to make the business more sustainable for the future.”
This year, more than 40,000 pumpkins of 18 different varieties have been grown.
Chris, 30, said: “We expect to have over 5,000 visitors which helps the local shops, cafes and pubs too.”
Pumpkin picking at Eastwood Hall Farm runs from October 2 to 31, 10am to 6pm.
Neighbouring farmers just outside Clay Cross have joined forces in a pick your own pumpkin enterprise for the first time.
The Hoggard family have nurtured 15,000 pumpkin plants in a field owned by the Meredith family at Stretton Hall Farm.
Julie Meredith, of Stretton Hall Farm, said: “We’re a poultry farm and for about ten years locals used to get a tray of eggs and put the money in an honesty box. In lockdown, they would come into our little shed and say can your husband or any of the local farmers come up with any more produce like milk, bread, honey? I sent for a big log cabin from Holland and I got my hubby Mark to rally around all the farmers in the area and fill it with whatever we can. We sell sausage, steak, sandwiches, Cornish pasties, hot sausage rolls and coffee. We keep everything local so we’re supporting the local farmers.
"We had one or two comments saying 'why don't you try pumpkins and sunflowers’?’ We've just done the sunflowers and they've gone reasonably well so pumpkins is an extension of that.
"It’s all about the experience – going into a farmer's field on a lovely day wth a wheelbarrow where the family picks a pumpkin or two to carve at home.
"The locals have praised us up and down dale. It's given them something to do in lockdown - somewhere to go because we're on a lot of different footpaths and bridleways and it's given them somewhere out in the open to go and feel safe."
Stretton Hall Farm Shop’s Pumpkin Patch is open from October 2 to 31. The shop is closed on Tuesdays.
Mr Pumpkin, launched by Jim Knifton on an arable farm in Morley in 2017, has planted more than 90,000 pumpkins and over 40 varieties this year.
Aside from the main produce, Mr Pumpkin has lots of other fun activities on site at Lime Farm. A Pumpkin Trail enables families to wander around the farm with a quiz to solve. The Pumpkin Trail is free although donations are invited to Air Ambulance which last year received £3,891.75 from Mr Pumpkin.A mini fairground, bouncy castle and Bale Mountain add to the fun while families can tuck into hot and cold food courtesy of Oakfield Farm shop in Stanley Common.
Mr Pumpkin is open on October 3, 9, 10 and from October 16 to 29.Tickets £2 (adult) and free for under 16s. Go to https://mrpumpkin.merlintickets.co.uk/product/MRPUMPKIN2021
Shirley Pumpkins, near Ashbourne will be open to the public from the second weekend in October and that month’s school half-term week, weather permitting. Opening times are 10am to 4pm.
Families can choose from orange, white and warty pumpkins, ranging from 50p to £10.
You can find Shirley Pumpkins at Shirley Hall Farm, Derby Lane, Shirley.