We own one section of land. Four hundred acres are used in cropland, one hundred sixty acres for pasture and sixty acres of hay land. We also own 30 cow/calf pairs. Our father, whom we share, farming responsibilities with, owns 130 cow/calf pairs. We bought into half of what he initially owned (2 sections of land). We are slowly taking over the entire operation while he is slowly stepping out of the farming business. This year we also rented eight hundred additional acres of pasture and cropland along with 75 cow/calf pairs on shares.
We have been raising pumpkins since 1998. We sold them off of the farm for two years. We then invested in creating an agritainment business on our farm in order to sell the pumpkins here.
PROEJCT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
Beaver Creek Pumpkins has been in operation for four years. The non-traditional income venture is planned to ensure success of a multi-generation farm operation. The venture includes 4 acres of pumpkins, which annual production is about 10,000 pumpkins and 4 acres of 120 day tall variety corn. The pumpkins are displayed in a seasonal display area featuring a family favorite activity – A pumpkin jumper. Near the display area the corn plot is developed into a “corn maze”. The maze and pumpkin display are the focus of a 5 week marketed economic venture.
Part of the venture includes field trips for school children (2004 brought over 600 school youth). The venture also includes family, youth and craft fairs.
The problem experienced in the project which we will be addressed in this SARE grant are: 1) lack of protection from wind which does not allow entertainment and crafters to be available to customers during windy weather conditions windy weather conditions common.
Process – fund from the SARE grant were used to strategically plant trees to provide protection from the wind for craft booths, pumpkin shoppers and educational tour groups. This will take a few years for the trees to grow in order to effectively measure how the shelter will affect the crafters, pumpkin shoppers and school children.
People – first of all, we have many neighbors, friends and relatives who help pick the pumpkins and carry them into the yard. We also have two hired pumpkin patch workers who help out during the season. Second, John Nowatski of NDSU extension service also has helped in tremendous ways with the GPS aspect of the corn maze. Without his help we wouldn’t have been able to figure out how to cut out the corn maze. Thirdly, Emmons County NRCS office helped in planning which trees to grow on our soil, which trees would be effective in hindering the wind speed in our yard, and they also planted the trees. We did the digging with a neighbor’s digger, removed the road with another neighbor’s scraper and removed the fences by ourselves.
Results – the results will be better measured in about 5 years when the trees have grown substantially. Our attendance has leveled off at about 2500 people per season. The wind has a huge impact on our attendance. We have temporarily been using a building for the crafters and entertainers at this point. But hopefully in future years we can be outside with the pumpkins! Having protection from the wind will directly impact the quality of life for our customers and more importantly improve our family’s quality of life and financial security.
Discussion – we have learned through our agritainment business that there is a need for people to gather. Family’s who come out to our pumpkin patch/corn maze spend at least three or more hours together making wonderful fall memories. By hosting education tours on the weekdays, we touched the lives of approximately 600 children reaching 16 different communities in the south central region of North Dakota. The tour’s lesson plan focused on sustainable agriculture. Our pumpkin patch hosted about 2500 people on the weekends. Those people helped their economy by turning that ‘dollar’ over one more time and having an enjoyable time doing it! In turn, we turn that very ‘dollar’ over once more because we support our local businesses and hire our help locally. We feel strongly that our business is good for our community and helps the economy for this region and would encourage anyone who is thinking of doing this in their region. We would also be happy to visit with anyone about our venture.
Every year we advertise in the local newspapers with ads with a flyer. In the past, we have been featured in our local REC magazine and by our local newspapers. We also have a website, which is a great tool for people who want to know more specifically what we have to offer. You are welcome to visit the sight. You can reach us at www.beavercreekpumpkins.com.
I also stay in close touch with our church organizations of the area. I am a member of local business associations. I email ND tourism with dates and types of entertainment, so that they can put our business in the ND travel magazine. And also the educational school tours serve as a form of advertising because the kids will go home and tell their parents about the field trip that they took that day.