Students get to feel different kinds of soil during their spring visit to Papa’s Pumpkin Patch.
It might have seemed like an ordinary Friday to you, but for nearly 200 area students, today was a day for planting pumpkins at Papa’s Pumpkin Patch! Papa and his team of volunteer retired teachers and the good folks at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) welcomed children from Washburn Elementary School, Martin Luther Grade School, Dorothy Moses Grade School and Centennial Grade School for a spring field trip and horticulture tour.
The idea began a few years ago with the request of one teacher to bring her class back to Papa’s in the spring (after their fall visit) so the students could see where the pumpkins are grown and learn a bit about a plant’s life cycle. When the teacher requested a similar visit for her current kindergartners, Papa decided to also invite a handful of other classes to test the idea on a larger scale.
Worms and composting was one of the learning stations for students visiting Papa’s Pumpkin Patch.
Retired teachers who are members of the Bismarck area GROW group led some of the interactive learning stations which included plant root structure and worms and composting. Volunteers also helped each student plant his or her own pumpkin seed and take it back to school. The soil scientists from NRCS brought their amazing blow up “under the earth” exhibit so students could experience a larger-than-life example of what’s going on in the earth under their feet.
Students got up close and personal with what’s going on under their feet in the NRCS exhibit at Papa’s Pumpkin Patch.
As we look to the future, Papa and the family are fully invested in helping our children keep or find a connection to our rural roots in North Dakota. Today’s pilot project allowed us to examine a new opportunity for education and fun at Papa’s Pumpkin Patch.
And Papa couldn’t help himself. Each student received one of his famous pumpkin cookies on their way back to school.
You’ve probably noticed when you visit Papa’s that we love animals and welcome our friends and guests to bring their pets with them. Many of our guests are familiar with Sandy — the big shepherd/dane mix who most children meet when they visit Papa for a fall field trip. Sandy loves to board the school buses and personally welcome each of the children if she’s allowed to do so. She also loves to run and jump on the bales with children, and she often follows the train as it makes its way around Papa’s Pumpkin Patch with a load of excited boys and girls.
There’s a lot to learn from Sandy. Lesson #1 is to be sure people know when you’re excited to see them. Sandy is a big dog, and when she’s pleased to see you, her whole self gets involved. If she catches you with her wildly wagging tail, it about knocks you over. She spans over 7′ from nose to tail tip, and when she wraps around you and gives you a hug, your only option is to return the favor with a big scratch to her back. Besides, she knows you wanted to love her up just a bit anyway; she’s just making it easier.
This time of year, Sandy loves to go outside with Papa and help prepare the fields for planting. (In truth, she doesn’t help much with the planting, but she does keep all birds and squirrels out of Papa’s way!) Naturally, all of that activity tires her out, and that’s when Sandy does what dogs do best: she lays down, rolls over on her back and kicks and squirms as only a dog who fully celebrates life can do. Then, she just lays there for a bit. Lesson #2 from Sandy: It’s good to relax where you are as long as it takes to begin again.
The chances are good when you visit Papa’s Pumpkin Patch the next time that Papa will do a far better job of making sure you know he’s excited to see you (Lesson #1) than he will to relax like Sandy and lie there until it’s time to begin again (Lesson #2). Some lessons are easier than others to put into practice.
Full hearts. That’s what Papa and the family have during this Christmas season. We’ve been tremendously blessed in 2015 – wonderful weather, bountiful crops, amazing friends, family and guests to celebrate fall in North Dakota.
At this point, we are not planning a polar patch season. While we’ve been gifted a white Christmas, there isn’t enough base to run our old-fashioned sled rides, build snow mountains or bury bales to create snow caves. If it’s possible to host a Play Day during the holiday season, we will certainly post our intentions at www.PapasPumpkinPatch.com and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/PapasPumpkinPatch.
Our hope is that you find your joy today and in the days to come. Best wishes for an amazing 2016!
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 25: Papa’s Pumpkin Patch is closed for the 2015 season. It’s been an amazing fall, and we have you to thank. Papa and more than 600 volunteers welcomed a record number of guests and their families. The weather was near perfect, and we all had great fun playing outside, making memories.
In the coming days, we’ll share some highlights from the season and provide a list of the groups who will benefit from your generosity at Papa’s Pumpkin Patch.
Saturday, Oct. 24 is the final day of the season at Papa’s Pumpkin Patch. We are open 12-7 pm, and we hope you are able to stop by for one more play date or to pick out your pumpkins and squash.
We start the day with about 150 large orange pumpkins and a few hundred smaller sugar pumpkins, along with some snowball (small white) pumpkins, a few varieties of squash and some gourds. Our concessions will be open all day so you can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, apple cider or maybe a slice of pizza or pumpkin pie. Cold beverages and snacks are also available.
If you are mostly interested in play, then here’s what you’ll find on our final day of the season: all of the free places to wander and explore PLUS zip lines, Papa’s Pumpkin Popper, the pedal park, the monster wagon train, the barrel train, pony rides and horse-drawn hay rides. AND the pumpkin trebuchet and pumpkin cannon will take aim at targets every half hour from 12:30 pm – 5 pm.
It’s been another amazing fall, and Papa’s family is thankful to all of you who have visited us. We’ll know more in the coming weeks however we’re quite certain this is one of our best seasons ever. We look forward to the support we will be able to offer nearly 50 charities!