The Great Pumpkins
Cinderella’s fairy godmother used magic to turn a pumpkin into a coach.
John and Edie Carpenter use pumpkins to create magic. Around mid-September, the Carpenters and their three sons transform part of their sixty-seven-acre farm in Linden into a mini-Disney World for people hungry for a back-to-nature experience.
Visitors of all ages who brave the drive down the bumpy lane leading to Carpenters Pumpkin Farm won’t see people dressed in animal costumes wandering on the grounds, but they will have opportunities to enjoy up-close encounters with real pigs and goats and other assorted animals. They won’t find a variety of amusement rides, but they can opt to take a leisurely hayride around the farm and treat themselves to the natural beauty it has to offer. Instead of weaving their way through crowds or standing in line, they can wander through a corn maze and wonder to themselves if the Carpenters have a search party on call, just in case they can’t find their way back to where they started.
And, of course, there are hundreds of pumpkins in the patch, each waiting for the perfect person to take them home. Most can be carried (or at least dragged) from the field by children. Some, however, can grow to the size of a smart car and weigh more than 750 pounds.
When it comes to their pumpkin patch, the Carpenters are all in. During spring planting, John arranges the corn rows in a way that enables him to prepare the maze in September without the use of a grid. Questions and interesting facts about farming appear on little signs posted throughout the maze. Picnic tables where hungry visitors can eat their packed lunches are placed in the yard behind their farmhouse. Giant-sized pumpkins, large enough to seat two or more young children, get plopped gently in the front yard. An old tractor, which kids can pretend to drive, is rolled out. They spare no effort to ensure an enjoyable experience for everyone who wanders their way.
Edie noted that, over the years, they’ve had a few pumpkin-seekers who arrived long after sunset. A few of them even beamed their headlights toward the patch in an effort to find a pumpkin when their flashlights weren’t up to the task. Though the Carpenters don’t encourage late-night shoppers, they won’t turn away anyone, no matter what time they roll in.
The Carpenters opened their first patch to visitors in 1994, the year they purchased the farm. “We didn’t think anybody would ever come down here,” John admitted.
But come they did. Taking to heart suggestions made by their early customers, they added the maze and hayride to enhance their patrons’ pumpkin-picking experience.
Word of the patch spread slowly, mostly because the Carpenters mounted a minimal marketing effort and posted few signs pointing the way to their creation. They’ve seen a small boost in attendance since creating a Facebook page (Carpenter Pumpkin Farm) two years ago, but their primary focus is on quality, not quantity.
“We want to keep it a farm,” John said. “We don’t want to make it a circus, and we don’t like it when we get so busy that we can’t wait on people. We’re really big enough right now. We couldn’t host a festival because we can’t give up a field to parking.”
The Carpenters do host many pre-school and elementary students who make annual treks to their farm. They also welcome a growing number of adults, who view stops at the patch as a way of hopping off the fast lane for a little fresh air and relaxation. More people visit on weekends, but why wait? The patch is open all day and every day beginning the last week in September through all of October.
Carpenter’s Pumpkin Farm is in Linden, between Williamsport and Jersey Shore. When heading on Route 220 South, turn right onto Young’s Road (about 7.5 miles from the Route 15/220 split) and bear right to stay on that road. Take the second left onto Wesley Lane, then take the first right onto Carpenter’s Lane. Proceed on Carpenter’s Lane to the Pumpkin Patch (on right).