Jeff Hobbs loves his Pumpkin Patch and it’s been a family tradition for decades in Franklin County. People wander through the pumpkins, pick out what they want, then pay for their pumpkin and the experience.
“My daughters–in-law are big on Facebook, Twitter and other social media,” Hobbs said. “Because of their efforts we are getting people from Malad, Pocatello, Soda Springs and Montpelier. We even had them come from as far south as Layton.”
Most weekdays, the Pumpkin Patch at 1250 South 2400 East in Preston is open at 5 p.m. to dusk, and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. While some would rather wander through the rows of pumpkins looking for the right one, Hobbs has his hay wagon going for those that would rather ride. Generally, they close on Thursdays and Sundays. They start selling on October 1st and go until the 31st.
They have busloads of local elementary and kindergarten students come to the patch to pick out their very own pumpkin.
Sam Hatch, from the Salt Lake area, brought his children up to visit his parents in Franklin. He let his children, Jori and Atticus, wander through looking for a pumpkin they liked. There are hundreds to choose from.
Hobbs said Ag Tourism is a big thing right now. Out-of-towners come to his Whitney farm and walk through the seven acres to choose something for fall decorations or Jack-O-Lanterns for Halloween.
Hobbs raises a variety of pumpkins, not all of them have traditional shapes. Some look like large crook-necked orange squash and some have blemishes all over them.
Hobbs takes large cardboard bins filled with pumpkins to grocery stores in Montpelier, Soda Springs, Malad and locally to Stokes Marketplace in Preston. He used to bring some down to Cache Valley, but not anymore.
Some of the local high school students come and help harvest pumpkins to earn a little extra cash.
The Hobbs family started raising pumpkins in the 1990’s to diversify their fur income. The family raises and sells beef, as well as a hardy vegetable stand in front of the Hobbs home in Franklin. Vegetables include corn, tomatoes, winter squash, and cucumbers. They also have a fur business and grow alfalfa and wheat.
Hobbs said one of the reasons they diversify is to stabilize his labor force. If he can keep his workers busy all year round, his trained and skilled laborers will stay with them. Otherwise, he would lose some of his migrant workers that need to make a living.
When the season is done, whatever pumpkins are left over will be used as cattle feed because the seeds are full of energy.