The great “Orange Crush” is on.
Columbus Day and the Yom Kippur holy days give lots of folks extra time to head to the North Fork farms in search of the perfect gourds to decorate their homes, carve into jack-o’-lanterns, bake into yummy pies, muffins, breads and other treats. And don’t forget to fill up on candy apples, apple cider donuts and pumpkin lattes. There is even one place in Riverhead, Rocco’s Pizza and Pasta, that has a pumpkin cannoli!
Pumpkin growing for agritainment destinations has grown substantially over the years, according to Rob Carpenter administrative director of The Long Island Farm Bureau. He estimates that there are between 300 and 400 acres on Long Island with a number of large growers with about 30 acres.
Riverhead has many farms that grow a variety of gourds, but there is only one that just concentrates on the pumpkin. Farmers Jim and Renee Stakey on West Lane in Aquebogue have been growing them for 40 years on their 26 acres. They grow 18 different varieties and offer an “all you can carry option” for $30. That means instead of paying 69 cents per pound, a customer can save a bundle.
On Friday Nick Dupas of Freeport carried almost a 90 pounds for him and his girlfriend Paige Raia and saved $32.
At the Rottkamps Fox Hollow Farm in Baiting Hollow, in addition to regular pumpkins and gourds, they grow some giant pumpkins of the “Big Mac/Prizewinners” variety weighing in between 100 and 140 pounds, said third generation farmer Jason Rottkamp. His mom Judy says that they have a lot of customers such as restaurants, that like the giant pumpkins for the ‘WOW’ effect in their fall displays.
Harbes Family Farm in Jamesport and Mattituck offers the total “Pumpkin Land” experience: besides the pumpkin picking the farms feature corn mazes, bouncy houses, tractor hay rides, pony rides and face painting that many farm destinations offer.
And finally if you are looking for an organic alternative there is Garden of Eve Farm on Sound Avenue in Riverhead. Bhavana Blueberries also has a small private patch with pumpkins still on the vine on Hortons Lane in Southold. They encourage visitors on Facebook to bring a picnic and a bottle of wine to enjoy amid the blueberry bushes.
Today’s rainy weather has led to the cancellation of the Riverhead Country Fair and a Greenport fireworks show. It will also likely dash any hopes of Sunday pumpkin picking.
But tomorrow’s forecast is much more forgiving with sunny skies and a predicted high of 63 degrees. So if you plan on exploring the North Fork, here’s a glimpse of what you will see.
And if you’re looking for a more complete list of places to pick, check out our North Fork pumpkin picking guide.
It’s your North Fork Sunday Scene.