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October 18, 2010

 

Family grows with its pumpkins

Little York couple opens up pumpkin patch named after their daughter

FamilyBob Ellis/staff photographer
Pumpkins are carried from the field by wheelbarrow at Theresa’s Pumpkin Patch in Little York. From left, Jodi Brockway, Joe Cash and Joe Brockway of LaFayette take back their day’s haul Saturday.

By JEREMY HOUGHTALING
Staff Reporter
jhoughtaling@cortlandstandardnews.net

LITTLE YORK — Richard and Lynnette Villnave’s hard work has paid off selling pumpkins for the first time on their family farm in Little York.
“That’s what it’s all about,” said Richard Villnave, pointing to a young couple pushing a small child in a wheelbarrow full of pumpkins. “Families spending time together.”
Villnave and his wife, Lynnette, have grown pumpkins on their land for years, and decided to sell them on their own this year. They had previously sold their pumpkins through their neighbor’s market.
Theresa’s Pumpkin Patch is named after the couple’s daughter, who turns 5 next month. The kindergartner often spends her weekends helping out in the tent, and brings wheelbarrows to help customers.
The farm has sold over 1,700 large pumpkins since opening for the season Sept. 18. The family still wholesales about half of its pumpkin crop, about 30 tons, to various markets.
“We were apprehensive as to how it would turn out,” Lynnette said, adding that the weather plays a big role in how many customers come in. “But we’ve been very pleased.”
The work put into the family’s farm is like another full-time job for the Villnaves. The pumpkin patch is just 8.5 acres of their 135-acre farm, which also grows cabbage, corn, oats, broccoli, cauliflower and soybeans. is like another full-time job for them.
“Farming is in my blood, I guess,” said Villnave, who has worked on the same farm since he was in his teens. The couple bought the house when they were married eight years ago.
Villnave said it is hard to say how many hours are put into the farm, but that he has spent many evenings working after he gets home from his job at the Cortland County Highway Department, where he is a heavy truck mechanic. His wife also works full time in accounting for Builder’s Best.
The growing process begins with a busy Memorial Day weekend.
The family starts with about 9 pounds of seeds, which cost about $125 a pound, which are all hand planted in hills of four across the patch.
“We work all weekend to get it all in,” Villnave said. “We had real trouble with the crows, we had to plant some of the seeds four times.”
Crows will dig up and eat the pumpkin seeds.
Villnave then brings in honey bees to pollinate the plants. He figures he brings in about one hive of bees per acre.
The next step is to fertilize, about 1,000 pounds per acre, and spray his crop with herbicides, which costs about $750 per application. Another spraying is done to protect the pumpkins from cucumber beetles and other pests, as well as a fungicide, applied about every week.
Once the pumpkins grow and become ripe, they are cut from the vine and placed in rows, ready to be taken home.
The patch will close for the season at the end of the month.

 

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