Ahh, October—time for pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin mochi and Hawai‘i-grown pumpkins. Aloun Farms, which celebrates its 10th year of educational tours this year, hosts an average of 15,000 students at its annual pumpkin patch. Event coordinator Michael Moefu says the student tours run Tuesdays through Fridays. “They learn a little bit more about agriculture, not just pumpkins,” he says. “Corn, sunflowers, beans and over a dozen different varieties of pumpkins.”
This is also the 14th annual Pumpkin Festival at Aloun in Kapolei, which is open to the public the last three weekends of October from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. 91-1440 Farrington Highway, Kapolei, 677-9516, alounfarms.com.
It’s been one tough year to raise pumpkins on Kohala Mountain.
The crop has been hit with the triple whammy of a mouse plague, cut worms and a tropical storm that stressed the plants so much they dropped their flowers.
None of this has deterred the Kohala Mountain Farm Pumpkin Patch from opening for its eighth year of Halloween pumpkins, food, rides and other attractions. While visitors to the farm — which commenced a fun-filled month Saturday — may see fewer pumpkins than in previous years, they’ll find expanded offerings in other areas.
“All we could do was laugh and carry on,” farm manager Benjie Kent said.
Visitors can hop on a wagon for a tour of the fields. The ride, pulled by draft horses and offered by Naalapa Stables, is new this year. The petting zoo has been expanded and there is a new miniature pony cart ride and cake walk. Musical offerings have been expanded as well, with the Pau Hana Pickers set to play several days and Beyond Paradise out of Hilo set to play Nov. 18.
Families can have their photos snapped by a sign painted with height markers. If they come back each year, they can take photos showing how their child is growing. And there are plenty of opportunities for snapping the obligatory shots of kids in wheelbarrows with pumpkins.
The farm recently added an observation platform made with lumber donated by HPM Buiding Supply. The platform gives a good view down the coast and into the corn maze so observers can help their friends find their way out — or confuse them further.
Central to this year’s story at the 23-acre educational farm on Kohala Mountain Road, however, is the shortage of fruit suitable to be carved into jack-o-lanterns.
NEW YORK — Northeastern states are facing a jack-o’-lantern shortage this Halloween after Hurricane Irene destroyed hundreds of pumpkin patches across the region, farmers say.
Wholesale prices have doubled in some places as farmers nurse their surviving pumpkin plants toward a late harvest. Some farmers are trying to buy pumpkins from other regions to cover orders.
Many area farms have fared well through the wet weather while some Northeastern states face a pumpkin shortage.
“I think there’s going to be an extreme shortage of pumpkins this year,” said Darcy Pray, owner of Pray’s Family Farms in Keeseville, in upstate New York. “I’ve tried buying from people down in the Pennsylvania area, I’ve tried locally here and I’ve tried reaching across the border to some farmers over in the Quebec area. There’s just none around.”
Hurricane Irene raked the Northeast in late August, bringing torrents of rain that overflowed rivers and flooded fields along the East Coast and into southern Canada. Pray saw his entire crop, about 15,000 to 20,000 pumpkins, washed into Lake Champlain.
But pumpkin farmers had been having a difficult year even before the storm. Heavy rains this spring meant many farms had to postpone planting for two or three weeks, setting back the fall harvest, said Jim Murray, owner of the Applejacks Orchard in Peru, N.Y.
A late harvest can be fatal to business because pumpkin sales plummet after Halloween on Oct. 31. Wholesalers need to get pumpkins on their way to stores by mid-September.
Another spate of rain about two weeks before Irene caused outbreaks of the phytophthora fungus —a type of water mold — in many fields, said Jim Stakey, owner of Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm in Aquebogue, on New York’s Long Island.
St. Anthony School kindergartner Kulia Kaufman, 5, browses through the selection of pumpkins while visiting the University of Hawaii Maui College’s Pumpkin Patch on Monday. St. Anthony preschool, kindergarten and 3rd-grade pupils visited and each child was able to take home a pumpkin. The keiki had a chance to hear stories and learn about pumpkins. Members of the public will also have a chance to choose among seven pumpkin varieties during a harvest event from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. Visitors then can also take part in craft sales, face painting and dental hygiene demonstrations, and savor a sample of soup.
by Carolyn Lucas-Zenk
Excited shrieks, laughter and the patter of little feet could be heard Sunday morning at the Kohala Mountain Farm Pumpkin Patch.
Children ran through rows, often with family members or friends, in search of the perfect pumpkin.
For Shaynee Akina, the hardest decision was not deciding between the perfectly rotund or the delightfully deformed. Instead, the 8-year-old Kohala resident was stuck on what to do with the big, bumpy pumpkin she spied all alone in a corner of the patch.
“I can carve it, put in front of our house or bake into a pie,” she said. “It’s kind of crooked so it be hard to carve because it will fall over. But I like it. So I can eat it.”
Seven-year-old Kayli Wilson said she’s tired of traditional looking jack-o’-lanterns with triangular eyes and jagged, toothy grin. This year, she planned to get the skinniest pumpkin available and carve a long, silly face on it.