Covid Restrictions Create New Norm For Pumpkin Patches

Chaminade Silversword
By Dominique Marshall

My family has made it an annual tradition to go to the pumpkin patch at Aloun Farms ever since I was a baby. Unfortunately for us, our tradition may not pull through this year because Aloun Farms has decided to cancel the event for the safety of its’ guests. Although it is not the same as Aloun Farms, Waimanalo Country Farm will have to suffice in order to keep our tradition alive! However, that is not the only pumpkin patch on the island and Waimanalo Country Farm thought of another way to have it while still following all of the restrictions.

The solution to this was to have a drive-thru pumpkin patch, which included an audio-guided tour of the farm from the comfort of your car and 20 minutes in the pumpkin patch to take pictures and pick your pumpkin.

When I first heard about it, I was a little skeptical because one of my favorite things about going is being able to walk up to the fields to explore what they had to offer. Being from Hawaii, it is really difficult to get into the fall spirit because we don’t experience the leaves changing colors and the weather getting colder. Going to the pumpkin patch is one of the best ways to get us into the spirit of Fall.

While scrolling through Instagram, I noticed that a lot of people started posting about the drive-thru pumpkin patch so I decided to look into it. In order to go, you have to make a reservation online, where you choose the time, date, and how many people are in the car. It costs $10 per person and the maximum amount of people that you can have per car is 5. This event runs until Oct. 31.

When you first arrive at the farm, you check-in and are given a form to fill out for their market along with a QR code to scan. The price of admission includes a choice of a flavored lemonade or sweet tea. Once your time slot comes, are given the okay to continue, you begin the audio tour. The first stop is one of the most popular, the patch to pick your pumpkin!

The area that they had set for the patch was laid out perfectly and it was very easy to social distance from other parties. Aside from social distancing, the strictest rule was taking the first pumpkin you touched, which was very different from a normal pumpkin picking because I normally pick it up and examine it fully to make sure that it is the perfect one. So I had to change my tactic this year and go based on just how they look from afar. Although it was a different experience from previous years, it still brought back all of the good memories with my family.

After spending 20 minutes getting your photos and picking your pumpkin, you head to the exit and purchase the pumpkin for $10, you get back into the car and drive to another big tractor wheel to scan another QR code to continue the tour. It goes through the complete farm showcasing different parts of it from the animals to the other plants that they grow. It was interesting to hear the history of the farm and how many generations it has gone through. Being able to have an audio tour was a great touch to the whole experience because although we had to stay in our cars and avoid socializing it made us still feel like we were connected to the family who owns the farm.

At the end of the tour is the country market where you pick up the items you ordered on the form you got in the beginning. They offer different types of items from sweet corn to smaller pumpkins. All of the items ordered here are excluded from the price of admission. The prices range from $8 to $15 depending on the item.

Overall the whole experience went smoothly and was fun for all members of the family. For more information about the Drive-thru pumpkin patch and other events, visit the Waimanalo Country Farm website.

You can grow your holiday pumpkin – But buying’s easier

Star Bulletin
By Gary C.W. Chun

A Hawaiian Halloween may not be complete without a jack-o-lantern, but we haven’t exactly set aside a patch of our gardens to grow pumpkins.

After putting in calls to some garden supply stores around town, it appears we’d rather purchase nice, round pumpkins from our neighborhood supermarkets than bother growing our own. When we do start pumpkins from seeds, they’re generally smaller than commercial pumpkins, more suitable for eating than decorating.

But if you’re thinking ahead to next year and would like to create your own pumpkin patch, it’s best that you use seeds from a packet as opposed to salvaging seeds from your hollowed out pumpkin-cum-jack-o-lantern.

“Some fruits tend to be harvested early, so the seeds that are inside may not be ready to germinate,” cautions Gary Chagami, manager of Wally’s Garden Center. “At least with seed packages, you know how many days it’ll take to maturity and planting.

“Pumpkin seeds are just not one of the better selling seed varieties here locally,” he said. “We buy seeds for more leafy-type vegetables. When it comes to pumpkins, people just buy them whole for carving.”

Aloun Farms, located along the portion of old Farrington Highway connecting Kapolei with Waipahu, has a pumpkin patch where visitors have picked their Halloween pumpkins for three years running.

The farms’ Mike Sou said it’s a way to introduce visitors to the ways of farming, and the pumpkin is ideally suited for Hawaii’s climate. “Hawaii can grow anything,” he said, “except apples.”

While it is possible to get your own pumpkin crop from the seeds that you took from your jack-o-lantern, Sou said “they’re usually special hybrid seeds, where if you used the seeds from the hybrid, it’ll probably not look as nice as the pumpkin you bought, and not good to make a jack-o-lantern. It’ll still make for good eating, though.”

According to Sou, pumpkins expected in time for Halloween can be planted as late as early August. They don’t need any special care, “just some spraying for insects, regular watering and a bit of fertilizer,” he said.

Pumpkins from Aloun Farms will be available for picking from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. They range from 50 cents to $4. The farm is at 94-1440 Farrington Highway. Call 677-9516.

Pumpkin carving contest
For the past 15 years, the Architects Hawaii downtown office has let its staff get creative for Halloween, with an in-house carving competition. And on the 31st, the public can view the results in the lobby of the Bishop Square Pacific Tower.
There will be at least 20 pumpkins, and you’ll get to cast a vote for a People’s Choice winner.

“Our designs aren’t necessarily the traditional jack-o-lantern kinds,” said Architects Hawaii principal Bettina Mehnert. “They’re never really scary but more outlandish, like a submission last year that had two pumpkins, one plain and the other ‘this is your pumpkin on drugs,’ which was pretty ugly! But I suspect there may be some patriotic-designed pumpkins this year.”

Viewing hours on Wednesday will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Don’t stand too close
Blades will fly Monday at the University of Hawai’i School of Architecture, next to Sinclair Library, as students carve into a bath of pumpkins.
Faculty advisor and School of Architecture associate dean Joyce Noe of the UH’s School of Architecture, is expecting 100 pumpkins carved on the spot.

Noe said the competition is called “an esquisse, where the students design something within a limited time.” The carving (no jack-o-lanterns, please!) will begin at 5 p.m., with judging at 7 p.m.

Pumpkins will be donated to the Blood Bank of Hawaii, hospitals and Bishop Museum’s “Treat Street” Wednesday.