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Friday, October 08, 2010

Great Pumpkins

Unmistakable Symbol Of Fall Has Many Uses As Food, Decoration

October 7, 2010 - By Dave Emke

With the coming of the fall season comes an influx of pumpkins into our general consciousness.

There are pumpkin pies to be eaten, pumpkin-flavored beverages to be drank, and - of course - pumpkins to be used as decorations for Halloween and Thanksgiving displays.

Whether they are of the carved jack-o'-lantern variety or just set out to be looked at in their full glory, pumpkins will be on porches and mantelpieces throughout the region and the country in the weeks to come.

Numerous stands, both the temporary roadside variety and the permanent buildings, are distributing pumpkins to one and all as the leaves change color and the air gets crisp. Pumpkins fit the motif of the autumn season, and they have become an integral part of the time of year.

The tradition of the jack-o'-lantern dates back thousands of years, when legend had it that the glowing gourds welcomed deceased loved ones on a certain night of the year - now celebrated as Halloween - and protected against evil spirits.

The pumpkin may not really have such magical qualities, but it has lived on through the centuries as a sign of the season without a doubt.


One of many places locally where customers can find pumpkins is Four Seasons Nursery and Garden Center.

Julie Harper, co-owner of Four Seasons along with her husband Matt, said the business usually sells between 250 and 300 pumpkins during the seasonal rush. The Harpers import their pumpkins from an Amish farm in Stockton, she said.

Customers who show up at Four Seasons tend to spend some time walking around the displays of pumpkins before deciding what they want to take home for their porches, Mrs. Harper said.

''They usually look for a few different sizes if they are just putting them out for decorations,'' she said. ''If they are going to carve them, most of them want a nice round one or a tall one, with at least one side smooth to be able to carve from - and, of course, everybody wants a handle on top.''

She said the process people go through when they stop by to buy pumpkins is much different from what they do when they visit to purchase other plants the business sells.

''For the most part, they wander around, look and see something they like and that's what they take,'' Mrs. Harper said. ''I don't think they come in thinking, 'This is what I want.'''

Pumpkins for sale at Four Seasons range in price from 50 cents to $9 each, Mrs. Harper said, depending on their size and presentation quality.

''We try to keep them economical,'' she said.

Four Seasons Nursery and Garden Center is located at 3181 N. Main St. Ext. (Route 60) in Jamestown. For more info, including store hours and other items offered, call 484-1485.


To celebrate all things pumpkin, look no further than the rolling hills of Cattaraugus County.

Pumpkinville, a 200-acre farm located just outside of Ellicottville, has thousands of pumpkins from which to choose as visitors search for exactly what they need. There are piles of displays to sort through, or visitors can pick their own prize from the farm's seven-acre pumpkin patch.

In addition to the sea of pumpkins, Pumpkinville has plenty of other attractions to delight people of all ages. Among the fun to be had is a hay ride; a corn cannon visitors can use to fire corn cobs at hay bale targets; a ''cow train'' for the kids; a ducky derby where rubber ducks are raced using old-fashioned hand water pumps; Goat Mountain, where visitors feed goats as they climb; a farm animal petting zoo; and a six-acre corn maze, one of the largest in the United States.

Pumpkin doughnuts are made on site for patrons to enjoy, and pumpkin ice cream and pumpkin fudge are available to accompany homemade pies and other desserts at the snack shack and Di's Pies and Bake Shoppe. Fresh apple cider and other such delicacies are made at the farm as well, courtesy of the farm's antique cider mill and press.

Souvenirs that can be taken home from the Boo-tique and Betty's Barn include local craft creations, fall decorations, children's gifts and dried flowers. And, of course, painted pumpkins can be purchased to enhance any seasonal decoration or display.

Pumpkinville, New York state's oldest continuously operating pumpkin farm, is open to the public every day through Oct. 31 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The farm has been open since the early '60s and has been under the operation of its current owners, the Pawlowski family, since 1996. It is located at 4844 Sugartown Road (Route 98) in the town of Great Valley. For more information, call 699-2205 or visit its website at

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