Pumpkin patches open with good harvests in eastern Iowa

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ATKINS, Iowa (KCRG) - With kids heading down the zipline and running around in shorts and t-shirts at Bloomsbury Farm, it might not feel like fall just yet.

Pumpkins at Bloomsbury Farm in Atkins are getting ready to be picked on Sept. 15, 2019. (MARY GREEN/KCRG)

But the Atkins farm kicked off its annual fall festival on Sunday, a week before the season officially begins.

While Bloomsbury Farm is bringing back fall favorites this year, like its two corn mazes, and introducing some new activities, including a giant slide and a scary 3D adventure, the big attraction is the pumpkin picking.

“The pumpkins have been fantastic this year,” owner Karen Petersen said.

Petersen said the recent warmth in eastern Iowa is getting the thousands of pumpkins across their 18 acres ready to be picked.

“Pumpkins really love heat. They love dry. Even though they’re 90% water, they still prefer to be on the dry side,” she said.

But now, they’re looking forward to the first frost of the season.

“The first killing frost will kill all those leaves, and you’ll just see a sea of orange,” Petersen said. “It’s just going to be beautiful.”

The pumpkins are already popping up about half an hour away, at Bart’s Farm and Pumpkin Patch in Marion.

Owner Bart Gingrich said his 15 acres of pumpkins didn’t look too promising earlier this year.

“It’s been a challenge, between the bugs and getting the rain and then getting too much rain,” he said. “But it all worked out well. It’s looking great.”

With his farm only open to the public for about a month and a half each year, his pumpkins need to be good.

“Having a good crop is everything,” he said.

So Gingrich and his pumpkins will be waiting for the weather to cool down a little bit more and for their farm to fill up a whole lot over the next several weeks.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “There’s a lot of smiles.”

Bloomsbury Farm is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., while its scarier Scream Acres event starts at 6:30 p.m. every Friday and Saturday in October.

Bart’s Farm and Pumpkin Patch is open Monday-Friday from 5 p.m. until dark and on the weekends from 9 a.m. until dark. Pony rides are offered on the weekends from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m.