Guest Author, Fran Barten, Barten Pumpkins in New Prague
What would fall be without the pumpkin? As the most famous of all winter squashes, pumpkins have a special place in our hearts. There are so many fun activities involving pumpkins from baking pies, to picking the perfect pumpkin in the patch, to carving Jack-O-Lanterns for Halloween. We invited Fran Barten of Barten Pumpkin Farm in New Prague to help us learn about this fall staple and tell us about the family-friendly experience that could provide at their farm.
“Family-friendly” best describes our pumpkin farm. We stay true to this idea in many ways. We provide pumpkin bowling, stilts, pretending in a huge teepee, and log climbing. There is no entry fee here nor is there a cost to play in our spacious, open air playground. Our guests pay using the honor system.
Family-Friendly means that we provide beautiful spots in nature to take photos. Memories of laughter and joy in the pumpkin patch are recorded when families come back each year to take their family photo. Family-friendly means we provide a safe environment for your family. Our most recent safety feature is covering the ladder of our grain bins. Reinforced hayride wagons, hand washing stations, and handicap accessible porta potties all add comfort and safety to your experience.
There are a few tips for selecting pumpkins and caring for them once you are home. If you need a pumpkin to eat or bake with, pie pumpkins are best because they are sweet and smoother compared to larger carving pumpkins. Pumpkin skin is edible and they bake similar to a squash. Therefore, when it is done cooking you will be able to stick a fork into its soft flesh.
If you need a pumpkin to display or carve, select the size and shape, check its true color because bright orange does not always mean ripe, ensure that it is firm and the weight is reasonable for the size, and test the strength of the stem. When your pumpkin is home, protect it from extreme heat and cold. Place several layers of cardboard between the pumpkin and the cement.
Barten Pumpkins truly is a very unique experience for picking your pumpkin. We are a working pumpkin farm operated by all 11 of my children, their spouses, and many grandchildren. Each person brings expertise and talent to the family business. Some take care of our marketing, while others design and upgrade the play and photo areas. Family members are home each weekend in September and October to help display the beauty of bold and bodacious harvested pumpkins, picked one hayrack at a time, in our yard. In the off-season, we order seeds, work up the 10 acre field, plant, cultivate, and hand hoe our fields. In the winter, I (Fran) am busy researching agritourist laws, tweaking lost child policy, or learning new machinery safety policies. I also attend conferences hosted by the University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference. We love to allow our guests to browse our lumpy, bumpy, and lovely pumpkins for their truly distinct experience.
Our family pumpkin business is a blessing in that it brings us together to work, play and eat and appreciate the wonder of God’s creation. We happily share this little spot of heaven with all our guests, believing that you will also make memories on our farm. Barten Pumpkins is located 45 miles south of Minneapolis on Minnesota state highway 19, which is three miles west of New Prague. We are open 9:00 am to 7:00 pm from September 20 through October 31. We are closed on Mondays. Check our website and Facebook page for updated events.
Thank you Fran Barten for this informative guest author article. To learn more about caring for pumpkins, check out the Minnesota Grown Pumpkin page or the University of Minnesota Extension. Remember to buy Minnesota Grown pumpkins this fall and ensure yourself a local pumpkin experience.