I just don't know where to start. October was the busiest month ever at Kenyon Hall Farm. We grew more pumpkins, welcomed more visitors, sold more pumpkins, carved more pumpkins, wheeled more barrows and ate more chocolate apples than ever before. We smashed all our records - not just for pumpkin season, but for any season. Since 1500-and-something.
I can't let all that pass without comment. But after a month of relentless pumpkining and minimal sleep (I call it pumpkinsomina) my brain doesn't seem to fancy this final task: the write-up. So you'll be pleased to hear that I'll be keeping this brief! A quick look at how we did and a nod towards next year...
How did it go?
It went really really well. The pumpkins grew nicely. The weather was kind to us. Our customers seemed to enjoy themselves. Our staff worked like troopers. We didn't run out of pumpkins. And the farm has certainly never been photographed so much! Even I managed to crack a smile!
Looking back at the post I wrote ahead of the season, it actually went largely as we expected. Quite whether it was what a few of our (evidently non-blog reading) visitors expected is a different matter. But in case they are reading, we can only apologise for our 30-seater cafe not having enough space for the 4,000 visitors on the day you came ;-)
What about next year?
Well, we intend to do it all over again! If you're reading this with a visit in 2019 in mind then I'd expect a similar pattern of busy-ness to 2018. So if you can come early in the season (and accept the slightly higher risk that your pumpkin may not last til Halloween) then that's the best way to miss the crowds and see the patch at it's best. You can see from above that if you leave it until half-term then you'll just have to embrace the madness and the mud!
Well, during the season a regular visitor to the farm wrote a blog post which I'd desperately urge you to read. In fact, stop reading this waffle I'm writing and click on the link to read her article. I promise we had no involvement in what the Farmers Wife & Mummy (Emma) wrote, but we agree with every word.
The overall message about supporting local farming and thinking before buying at a supermarket is one that every farmer in the country supports. It's what we spend the other 11 months of the year doing in our farm shop and cafe - show-casing the fantastic produce grown in the northwest. (For those who only come during October, you may be surprised to hear we're open 360 days a year, but we are!) But we also know that not everyone is fortunate enough to have the option of shopping for food in this way.
However, the point about our pumpkin customers paying a fair amount for a visit to the pumpkin patch is worth pausing for thought. This year we didn't charge admission - we haven't done in the 40 years we've been open. We want to be as accessible as possible to our customers. But it's a two-way street and we rely on people supporting us. I just hope people start thinking increasingly along Emma's lines and help to make sure British farming and our pumpkin season have a very bright future!
For those of you who steer clear of the farm during pumpkin season, relax, you can come back again! For the next 11 months we're back to normal. We're here 7 days a week to serve you farmhouse food in the peaceful cafe and offer you home-grown and home-made goodies in the farm shop. We've also got some new Christmas events to look forward to!
As for me, having missed my Granny's 90th and my little boy's 2nd birthday, both of which fall inconveniently in the middle of half-term pumpkin craziness, I've got some making-up to do at home. And what better way to start my family time than with a little bit of carving!