Buying a supermarket pumpkin is like having a TV dinner on December 25 – it’s just not right. Getting your wellies on, heading down to the farm, and finding the biggest, roundest, orange-est pumpkin is one of the best parts of the autumn season.
In Staffordshire, were lucky to have a wonderful selection of pumpkin patches where you can discover pumpkins of all shapes, sizes and colours. From photo booths to carving stations, each family run farm offers a fun-filled family day out for all ages – even the dogs, in some cases.
Here’s my pick of the best pumpkin patches in the area – as well as some handy tips on how to spot the best pumpkin, and have them last past Halloween.
Brookfields Farm Shop
Postcode: ST5 5EG
Brookfields Farm Shop is home to hundreds of homegrown pumpkins, and last year, their patch had almost doubled in size compared to previous visits. Their gourd hoard sees not just the classic orange pumpkins, but blue and white ones too!
This year, they’re open from October 13 until Halloween, with an adorable welcome arch perfect for snapping a picture with your wheelbarrow. The patch is free to visit, but parking is tight and there can be queues on busy weekends – so I recommend going early in the month, and in the week where possible.
There’s also trailers of smaller pumpkins to choose from if you don’t fancy picking your own, with fresh local produce and artisanal products available in the farm shop, where pumpkins are sold by weight.
When you’ve collected your pumpkins, why not head over to The Swan with Two Necks just down the road, who do a wonderful three-course Sunday lunch.
Lower Drayton Farm
In Penkridge, Lower Drayton Farm has their own carving station, which means you don’t need to make a mess of your own kitchen to make a jack-o-lantern for October 31.
Tickets to the farm cost £7 entry per person with under twos going free – but the fee also covers the cost of one pumpkin which can be carved on site, or taken home to enjoy. Additional pumpkins cost between £2 and £6 depending on size.
Their 12-acre patch was grown from 80,000 pumpkin seeds, and some of them are absolutely huge. Enjoy a trailer ride down to the field, where you can pick not just pumpkins, but carrots too – as well as the sweetcorn and sunflowers on site.
Lower Drayton is also home to a number of farm animals, including pigs who gratefully eat all of the scooped out pumpkin waste from the carving station. There’s a fabulous photobooth complete with haybale spider that the kids will love, and a Pear Tree Farm Catering are on site with fresh pumpkin soup, burgers and sweet treats.
The farm is open daily from October 16-31 and must be booked in advance, with the option to add on tickets to the indoor play barn if you do have little ones.
Postcode: CW3 9RE
Whilst technically in Cheshire, Woore Farm is located just past Keele, and is one of the patches we visit each year for more than just pumpkins. In summer, it’s the perfect place to go strawberry and raspberry picking, too.
Woore’s patch is open weekends throughout October, as well as Wednesdays from 9.30am to 5pm. The dog friendly patch is free entry with no booking necessary, with a sizable car park and toilets on site.
Once you’ve collected your bumper crop of pumpkins from one of their three patches, you can get an ice cream and a cup of tea from the cafe before heading home to carve your lantern.
So, now you know where to go, you need to know a few dos and don’ts before you get there to make sure you have the best time, and that your pumpkin lasts until Halloween.
Pumpkin picking dos
Wear wellies and a coat – it can be blooming chilly on these farms in October, and muddy too. Be sure to wear warm clothing and suitable footwear, and take a spare pair of shoes in the car that you can chance into, leaving muddy wellies in a carrier bag to hose off at home.
Line the boot with bin liners – because the moment you arrive back at the car with your wheelbarrow full of muddy pumpkins, you’ll wish you’d have covered the boot.
Bring a carrier bag – or a few, to put muddy boots in, or to help when carrying pumpkins from the car to the house when you get home.
Pick your design before your pumpkin – this will help you find the right shaped and size pumpkin on the farm. You could even print out a template and take it along with you to see if it will look right.
Look for dark orange pumpkins – they’re the best for carving!
Punpkin picking donts
Pick pumpkins with soft spots or holes – it’s likely that worms and maggots have already eaten their way into the pumpkin and it’s started to decay, so it won’t last past October 31.
Carry it by the stem – not only is it really spiky, but it’s also likely to snap on the heavier pumpkins. Though, darker, green stems can be found on the healthier pumpkins that will last longer, with those past their best donning more twig-like, brown stems.
Choose a thin pumpkin – make sure you pick a heavy pumpkin, which indicates it has thicker walls that will hold up your carving design. Thin pumpkins can collapse during the artistic process and will go mouldy faster.
Forget your camera – because did you really go to a pumpkin patch if you didn’t post it on Instagram?