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Saturday
Oct172009

Jones Family Farms: Pumpkin Picking at its Best

Did Fairfield County seem unusually quiet last weekend as if everybody had gone somewhere? Were you wondering where the party was? I can tell you with absolute certainty that Fairfield County residents were indeed out, but there were no cocktails involved (although now that I think of it....) This was a family friendly affair...Everybody was out picking pumpkins at Jones Family Farms in Shelton CT. 

We drove up to Jones on a beautiful Sunday afternoon (of course the weather has taken a turn for the worse since then) and as we pulled into the parking lot, my heart sank. I couldn’t believe there could be this many people on a single farm. It looked like Silverman’s (and not in a good way). But all was not lost. As we left the cars in their neat rows and strolled towards the actual farm, something beautiful was revealed. The vista opened to picturesque rolling hills in the distance and what seemed like acres of pumpkin fields. And these were no half-rate pumpkins. We are talking perfect pumpkins..thousands of them. We were on Pumkinseed Hill, the Fall outpost of the Jones Family Farms.

The air was crisp as we passed through a few child-friendly painted play structures, and the mandatory stick your head through the mural photo ops. All around were pre-picked pumpkins laid out as if in tidy fields of orange for those just looking to grab n’ go after the holiday card was taken care of. Jones had everything from tiny pumpkins with perfect stems, to the grotesquely large displayed museum style on stands by the front gates, and every size in between. 

For those of you who want the REAL pumpkin picking experience, 20 feet away were fields you could hike through to seek out the pumpkin of your dreams...25 acres in fact. That’s a lot of pumpkins. I recalled the Charlie Brown TV special. The vines were thick and vaguely prickly (as they should be), and had both pumpkins that were the ripe and ready as well as some green ones waiting for visitors in the weeks following. Even with all those cars in the parking lot, the fields were still open, as were the views. Fall foliage was in full effect around Jones' Pumpkinseed Hill. It was beautiful. 

My kids insisted on trying their skills in the corn maze (only open on weekends) which at $2 a person seemed reasonable. They emerged triumphant and giddy about 10 minutes later, ready to seek out the origin of the slightly funky smell we had encountered on our way to the maze. You guessed it…pigs, 3 or 4 of them enjoying their pen..always a crowd pleaser as long as you don't get too close. There were also a few turkeys and chickens romping in their roosts. 

Hay rides are available to take you out to the further fields, or you can just hop on and enjoy the ride. What child doesn't enjoy sitting on a bale of hay and getting pulled by a tractor? There is also a small stage where kids can dance to music while you decide which of the 15 pumpkins you actually NEED for your home. 

I recommend eating before your pumpkin picking adventure, as the only food you'll find on this farm is apples, apple cider, and freshly baked cookies (although this may be a meal for some).

Pumpkins are priced by size (so it is a bit of a guessing game) but we exited with 9 pumpkins of varying sizes for $39. This seemed to be a relative bargain compared with other years and other farms. You can also purchase every squash imaginable from Acorn, Butternut, Buttercup, and Hubbard, as well as the decorative dried Indian corn. A selection of farm produce boxes, jams, and some Halloween related gear is also sold in the tiny open store. 

The weekend of October 24-25th is their 24th annual UNICEF Children's Festival which will include face painting, gourd tosses, pumpkin decorating, sing-a-longs, wagon rides, and other fun activities. Children are encouraged to come in costume. Have fun, and happy picking at this beautiful CT farm.

Note: Pumpkinseed Hill is not at the same location as the Jones Winery or berry picking location. Check the address before you leave the house. 

 

Jones Family Farms Pumpkinseed Hill farm 120 Beardsley Road, Shelton. 

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