If you take a drive along the long stretch of Gerber Road in Wellesley Township, you will eventually come across a burst of fall colours emanating from a small pumpkin patch and curious visitors who’ve chosen to investigate the carefully placed displays of Fall Harvest Farm.
Local farmer and nurse Rosemary Kittel-McCormick is behind the fruitful displays of this year’s pumpkin harvest, where she’s once more opened her wooded yard to visitors.“We’re just trying to keep the farm going. It’s been a way of life ever since I’ve known it. We’re trying to make a little bit of fun for the public because the public seems to enjoy the small roadside stand. We’re just trying to keep it very basic yet fun to come to,” she said of her displays while watching for visitors on Wednesday afternoon.
Growing up on a farm in Wellesley Township, Kittel-McCormick learned to work hard from a young age and hopes that her displays will keep her family’s farm popular with locals.
“My dad encouraged me to grow some [pumpkins], sell some and it’s been done ever since … he taught us how to grow things,” she said, adding that the endeavour started as a way for her and her siblings to have fun and earn a little bit of money.
In May, when Kittel-McCormick plants her pumpkin seeds in a plot across the street from her home, she and her children already start planning for next fall’s display.
Over the years they have used many ideas, from Toy Story and Disney to this year’s campy video game theme featuring painted, handmade mannequins of classic characters like Mario from the popular video game, complete with a painted pumpkin for a head.
After agreeing on an idea she and her kids hit up the thrift shops looking for craft materials they can use, creating all of the displays from scratch.
Though the pumpkins do bring in some revenue for the family farm still operated in part by Kittel-McCormick’s father Wilfred Kittel, she said most of her efforts are directed towards showing visitors and their kids a good time as well as teaching her own children valuable lessons about farm life.
Her six children are the sixth generation to grow up on the farm and Kittel-McCormick hopes that they will love the experience as much as she did as her passion for rural life is what keeps her determined to save the family farm in a difficult economy.
“The big thing I want to do is keep the farm going,” she said of her pumpkin harvest as well as larger efforts throughout the year. “It’s not easy with the economy and such fluctuating prices.”
Despite the hardships, Kittel-McCormick believes the family’s efforts are beneficial to their relationships with each other. Her children help out with the harvest in mid-September after school and husband Ronnie McCormick takes two weeks off work to help out.
“I’m surprised this year I got what I did, because of the drought” she explained, referring to this year’s dry summer weather. Despite what was a cruel summer season for most farmers the pumpkin farm has a full harvest with wagons of squash and creative displays.
It takes the family most of September to harvest the pumpkins and by the time Halloween arrives all are happy to look back at their hard work and put away the decorations to plan for another year, Kittel-McCormick said.
“We do this together and it’s a really good family thing to do. A family that works and eats together stays together.”