GTPulse Weekend Planner: The Great Pumpkin Patches of Northern Michigan
Have you ever heard the legend of Stingy Jack?
Irish folklore claims that a man named Stingy Jack invited the devil to have a drink with him. But, being that Jack was stingy, he didn’t want to pay for their drinks, so he convinced the devil to turn himself into a coin—a coin he would then use to buy their drinks.
For whatever reason, (maybe the devil had too many drinks?) the devil agreed.
But, instead of paying for their drinks, Jack kept the coin in his pocket, next to a silver cross which prevented the devil from transforming back to his original form.
Eventually, Jack agreed to free the devil, as long as the devil agreed not to bother him for one year, and—should he die—the devil would not claim his soul.
So, the next year, Jack somehow convinced the devil to climb a tree, and while the devil was in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark, making it so the devil could not come down. More negotiations took place, and the devil was eventually able to come down after promising not to bother Jack for 10 years.
At some point during the 10 years, legend has it that Jack did die. But, God wouldn’t allow such a shady character into heaven. And the devil kept his word, despite the tricks Jack played, and wouldn’t allow him into hell. A compromise was made which left Jack to walk the earth with only a single piece of coal to light his way. The crafty Jack carved out a turnip to hold the coal, thus becoming Jack of the Lantern, or, “Jack-O’-Lanterns.”
Centuries later, carving Jack-O’-Lanterns to ward off evil spirits has become an annual tradition. In Irish and Scotland, people would carve potatoes and turnips. In England, large beets are used. But, as immigrants from these countries made their way to America, they used pumpkins.
And, even today, people come in droves to seek out pumpkin patches across the country to find their perfect pumpkin.
To aid in your search for the great pumpkin, I’ve highlighted just a few of the local farms and pumpkin patches across our area.
Nugent Orchards, Benzonia
Nugent Orchards has been family operated since 1918. In addition to the fall farm market, Nugent offers apple picking, an event barn and a glamp-ground. Open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. 4 p.m. through November 1.
Clark’s Family Farm, Long Lake Township
Located on North Long Lake Road near Long Lake, Clark’s Family Farm is a centennial farm that caters to both Halloween and Christmas holidays. Open most days from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Pahl’s Country Store, Buckley
Pahl’s is much more than a pumpkin patch, offering everything from constructing your dream home, to raising pigs and cattle. They even have healthy, natural, northern Michigan raised meat. The Pumpkin Patch opens in late September through October 31st and offers fun for the whole family. There is rides, homemade cider, donuts, and even an apple cannon. They’re open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
9 Bean Rows, Suttons Bay
9 Bean Rows is a small farmstead, artisan bakery and café that offers year long CSA’s specializing in seasonal no spray produce and fresh bread. Visit the bakery and café while you pick out your future Jack-O’-Lantern at the farm! Open Monday-Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Edgecomb’s Farm Market, East Side Traverse City
Located on Hammond Road in Traverse City, Edgecomb’s is a local farm paradise offering fresh produce, flowers, plants and other seasonal items. Pumpkins and other fall features available. Due to construction, access the market from S. Airport or Three Mile roads. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Jacob’s Farm, West Side Traverse City
Founded in 1892 by Jacob Witkop and now a State of Michigan Historical Commission Centennial Farm, Jacob’s Farm has something to offer for the entire family! There is a more than 10 acre corn maze and they offer offer tractor rides, a full food menu, and outdoor beer garden. The corn maze is open Sunday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The food and bar is open from 12 to 8 p.m. Friday and Sunday.
Gallagher’s Farm Market, West Side Traverse City
Gallagher’s Farm Market was opened in 1971 by Jack and Bernie Gallagher. Their daughter, Maria Lammers, along with her husband Sid and their family, has run the farm for the past 40 years. The market opens in June with local asparagus and strawberries and stays open through October. Gallagher’s has beautiful pumpkins and apples, but their pumpkin donuts are downright addictive. In fact, their donuts are so famous, there is a two dozen limit and a call ahead policy for orders over two dozen. Open daily except for Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Farmer White’s, Elk Rapids
This third generation, family owned farm is just two miles south of the Village of Elk Rapids. The farm stand started roadside in 1958, graduating to the back of a pick up truck, then to the red roofed white barn along US-31 until expanding to add the current market and kitchen in 2008. Pumpkins are just one of the items you will find at Farmer White’s. They are open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Royal Farms, Ellsworth
Royal Farms is a boutique farm and winery with seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables straight from the farm. Octobers are super special with apple and grape picking, a scavenger hunt corn maze, farm hayrides, fresh pressed cider, honeycrisp caramel apples and apple pies. There are pumpkins galore and you can even drink some hard cider or have a wine tasting. Open Sunday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m.to 7 p.m.
Pro Tip: When it comes to picking the perfect pumpkin for carving, remember to look for the deep orange ones and be sure to knock on the pumpkin to make sure it’s hollow! A hollow pumpkin is a ripe pumpkin!