ASAP likes to share the stories of people who help us fulfill our mission. This month we talk with Cassandra Bare of Harvest Farm in Valle Crucis, NC, which has a host of fall activities for visitors.
What can people do at Harvest Farm right now?
We are unique in that we are an eight-acre u-pick pumpkin patch. Customers can harvest their own pumpkins right off the vine. We do have some pre-cut out in the field, because not every family wants to worry about carrying cutters, especially if they have small children, but they still want to go out to the field to choose a pumpkin. We shuttle the pumpkins back to the barn. We’re growing over 40 varieties this year.
We also have a hayride as well as a hayless “hay ride” for people with allergies. There’s a corn maze. Up here we have the Woolly Worm Festival, so instead of a cow train we have the Woolly Wagon.
Do you have any tips on choosing the perfect pumpkin?
Everybody has their own opinion on what kind of pumpkin they want—that’s part of the fun. There’s a different pumpkin for everybody! This year I’ve enjoyed a miniature variety I grew for the first time, called black kat. It’s really unique. There are only two varieties of black pumpkin: dark knight and black kat. I love watching people react if they’ve never seen a black pumpkin before. Also this year I grew a Frankenstein pumpkin. I put the pumpkin in a special mold at the bulb stage and it grew into the face of Frankenstein. People came all the way from Raleigh just to see Frankie!
How long have you been farming?
Both sides of my family farm. I come from a background of nursery and Christmas tree farmers, but I got into the produce business a few years ago. I took up pumpkins because my kids were little. It takes eight to ten years to grow and harvest a Christmas tree, and they were bored with that. I thought, let’s try pumpkins—and they love it. Addie is five and Gavin is eight. They both work every weekend on the farm, I guess you would say in customer service. Gavin drives the side by side, bringing pumpkins in from the field. Addie pulls carts back and forth. They look forward to it every year.
Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe?
Yes, I have my great-grandmother’s pumpkin pie recipe with all the milk and stains on it.
Find more farms to visit this fall by searching ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org.