Poppy’s Pumpkin Patch is a family enterprise located near Norfolk, NE. We raise produce and provide farm visits to area schools as an agritourism business. On our 20 acres we have livestock, corn, pumpkins and native grass pasture. 2008 was our 10th year as an agritourism business. We have been using crop rotations for 35 years, manure applications, irrigation for 20 years.
1. Increase economic return by better marketing of produce on the farm.
2. Enhance the environmental and educational value of Poppy’s Pumpkin Patch
3. Provide an opportunity for youth to connect with nature
4. Conserve native pasture
We realized we needed to provide a facility for our customers that was comfortable year round with heat and air conditioning. This would also extend our season and give us the opportunity to host many different types of events. We researched different renewable type of fuel and decided on a corn furnace complete with ductwork that would heat our barn. It is readily available (we raise it) and provides heat very efficiently. Using our native grass pasture more efficiently by providing more water tanks and rotating the grass was important to us. From the beginning we found that many students had never been on a farm and had very little firsthand knowledge of crops and animals. In Nebraska, 4th graders learn about state plants, trees and history. It seemed important to add educational value and materials tour tours. We are able to provide a booklet with information about NE, native trees and plants as well as some historical information.
Al Mittan and Denise Trine, Prairieland RC&D – grant application, plant booklets
Steve Rassmussen, NE State Forestry – input on native trees and educational application
Larry Wetterburg, Soil and Water Service – livestock fencing and pipeline
Diane Bryant, USDA Economic Development – corn stove and insulation
Ken Berney, Lower Elkhorn Nat. Resource – pipeline and fencing
Gary Folchert, NPPD – energy audit
Red Bud Farm Supply – corn stove info
Midwest Builders – insulation and install corn furnace
The most important thing we learned from this grant is to use all your resources – there are so many groups that will provide knowledge and assistance. When you need help whether with paperwork or technical knowledge it is readily available. Everything we planned for our project was accomplished and we felt very successful – our only regret was that we didn’t know what was available so that we could have worked on these projects sooner.
I was very pleased to be able to give a presentation at the Marketplace Conference at Columbus, NE and at Columbia, MO. With a video presentation I could show some of what we’ve done to improve the sustainability of our farm and business. We hosted a dinner meeting and twilight tour for the board members of Prairieland RC&D in July 2008 to thank them for their support and update them on our progress.