A Wondrous Patch of Pumpkin Perfection

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Kids at the Pumpkin Patch

Local farm hosts Fall Festival and pumpkin patch!

Farm Focus: Willamette Valley Melon Company
Written by Patti Jo Brooks, Contributing Writer

Pumpkins, sunflowers and corn, oh my! Families, farm stands and much more! For Willamette Valley Melon Company, October at the farm means a dawn to dusk self-serve pumpkin patch, overflowing farm stands and the Fall Festival event which brings family and friends together for a unique farm experience. The Company mission, “Grow Stronger Communities. Grow Fresh Food for Our Community. Connect Families to Agriculture,” applies to all aspects of their farming, harvesting and retailing business. A visit to this local Molalla farm or one of their satellite roadside stands will have you walking away with armfuls of farm-fresh produce… and maybe a pumpkin or two!

Although the pumpkin crop “is our largest crop by acreage,” notes Horticultural Director and co-owner Neal Lucht, “we are famous for local watermelon.” Depending on the weather, some years these two crops are obliged to share the October spotlight. If circumstances prevail, you just might leave the farm or roadside stand with your pumpkin under one arm and a watermelon under the other. Watermelons aside, however, nothing signifies fall quite like pumpkins. Growing over 40 acres of pumpkins in all shapes, textures and sizes to use in decorating, carving jack-o’-lanterns or making pies, you can either venture into the fields and choose your own, or select a pre-picked pumpkin conveniently sorted by variety.

Pumpkins at the Pumpkin Patch

A visit to Willamette Valley Melon Company’s main farm stand, located at 32173 S. Dryland Road in Molalla, offers the largest selection of produce available from the farm May through November. Acorn, butternut and delicata squash as well as popcorn, which is grown, harvested and packaged at the farm, are some of the popular fall selections. The off-site roadside stands are open through October and all stands are self-serve, relying on the honor system for purchases. Chosen at peak season for quality, flavor and freshness, produce at the stands is restocked daily. If you’re interested in a wholesale opportunity, give the office a call at (503)651-3302 (they’re open Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) or send an email to info@wvmelons.com.

As a majority woman-owned business, Pamela (Neal’s wife), Finance Director and principal owner, and daughter Lauren Lucht-Lovelace, CEO and company manager with a background in agricultural education and communication, join Neal to complete the ownership team. Looking toward the Fall Festival event on Oct. 14, the team’s declaration, “We love any excuse to have a good time!” rings loud and true throughout the community. Focusing on the festival, HR Manager and Co-Event Coordinator, Darci Abeln, shares some of the details. In addition to the traditional kids’ activities (face painting, pumpkin painting, sensory bins, scavenger hunt and hay pyramid), a 5-acre custom designed corn maze and a photo-op Sunflower Walk are likewise featured and included with admission. Tickets are available through the website. Also included on the day of the festival will be an evening “Pumpkin Glow” event. Darci explains, “Attendees will be able to carve pumpkins throughout the day at the festival. These will be added to others already carved and we will display all the pumpkins together and light them simultaneously at 7 p.m.” Sounds stunning!

Willamette Valley Melon Company pumpkin farm

Neal, having grown up on Dryland Road raising irrigated crops on a family farm, started a seed and nursery company in 1990 known as North West Transplants with his wife Pamela. When neighboring property came up for sale about 10 years ago, they bought the 100 acres with the goal of bringing “high-quality products directly to the consumer with an emphasis on education,” Neal relates. Willamette Valley Melon Company strives to do just that. Maintaining close ties with the community, in addition to seasonal programs and events, the Lucht family is a major sponsor for Oregon FFA and a sponsor for Oregon Aglink “Adopt a Farmer” program, which pairs a middle school classroom with a farm or ranch so students can build relationships with farmers and help give a voice to agriculture.

Willamette Valley Melon Company Main Office is located at 32300 S. Dryland Road in Molalla. For information on events or wholesale inquiries call (503) 651-3302 or email info@wvmelons.com. Access Instagram via @wvmelons for what’s available at the stands. For Roadside Stand locations and a myriad of other information, visit the website wvmelons.com.