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Retirement prompts sale of St. Clements farm

Anne Nauman and her dog Tequila stand beside a symbol of the farm’s iconic pumpkin patch. [Damon Maclean]

Nauman’s Farm near St. Clements has been synonymous with pumpkins for two decades. Now, while the Nauman family retires from the business, the big orange gourds will continue to be a staple.

Hugh Nauman last week announced he’s selling the operation to the nearby Benjamin Tree Farm.

“It has nothing to do with COVID. We are getting to that age –my children are not interested, and we’ve had enough of worrying six/seven days a week,” explained Nauman, noting he and his wife Anne have opted for retirement.

The farm had been in the family since 1966. Hugh and Anne bought the property in 1999 from his parents.

“That’s when we started with the pumpkins, squash, added raspberries, strawberries and lastly rhubarb,” said Nauman, noting the decision to retire comes with mixed feelings, as he will miss the customers most of all, both at the farm and the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market.

“I think I’ll miss picking strawberries when they are nice and warm out in the field and the scenery and quiet when it’s all said and done.”

Nauman said he’d like “just to thank all of the customers that have been loyal at St. Jacobs and at the farm.”

As for the pumpkins that Nauman’s has been known for, he’s handed the reins to Benjamin Tree Farm. That includes the relocation of the iconic pumpkin patch, which reflects that Halloween has always been his favourite time of year.

“People were the most happy then. They came out to have a good time. A lot of times you would see three and four generations together,” he said of the spirit of the occasion.

“They are retiring and we saw it as an opportunity to keep the tradition alive and help their customers to have a place to go this fall,” said Patrick Doyle, sales manager at Benjamin Tree Farm, of the decision to take over the operation.

Benjamin Tree Farm has been a Christmas tree farm since 1986. “We’ve been doing trees for over 25 successful business years, and now we turn our services into the pumpkin patch,” he added.

“It’s definitely going to have its challenges. One of my largest concerns is with the whole COVID crisis is how many pumpkins do I get? Are people going to be able to come visit me this fall?”

He said he hopes that a decision is made where people can come out and enjoy the farm through social distancing to purchase their gourds and pumpkins.

Uncertainty around the coronavirus has left the status of harvest season up in the air, but Doyle says they would be interested in doing delivery, curbside pick-up and even a drive-thru service, perhaps.

“I’m just looking forward to giving families somewhere to go that’s a little closer to town. Smiling faces … I really enjoy people and how happy they are when they get to the farm and get to pick up their Christmas tree and now their pumpkin.”

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