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 a pumpkin season, but for any season. Since we started in 1978.
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 enjoyed 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. The car park got quite full by 10am on most days but we always managed to find a space for everyone. With visitors spread out across the pumpkin patch, indoor tunnel, carving area, play area and inside the farm shop and cafe, the farm rarely felt crowded and we had some lovely feedback along these lines. And those that visited outside of weekends and half term often had the patch to themselves!
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 then that's the best way to miss the crowds and see the patch at it's best. We'll be opening the patches in the first week or two of October 2019, so keep your eyes peeled for updates from the end of September.
Well, during the season a regular visitor to the farm wrote a blog post which I'd desperately urge you to read. I promise we had no involvement in what the Farmers Wife & Mummy (Emma) wrote, but we agree with her wholeheartedly.
Her 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. But we also know that not everyone is fortunate enough to have the option of shopping for food in this way.
The specific point about pumpkin pickers paying a fair amount for a visit to the pumpkin patch is one obviously very close to our heart. Looking forward to 2019 I hope that even more people start thinking 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 serving you farmhouse food in the peaceful cafe and offering you home-grown and home-made goodies in the farm shop. normal. 7 days a week. 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, 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!