October 12, 2015

Pumpkin Time on Suzie’s Farm

From the Fields - Lucila De Alejandro
The implacable heat, the relentless length of day light hours, autumnal equinox and winter squash — signals my favorite seasonal change. Before owning and operating Suzie’s Farm, I always wanted to grow autumn pumpkins at home, but failed to plan correctly.

Labor Day was about the time it occurred to me to plant the prodigious varieties. I was sure they would be ready in October. I was dismayed to find that they required between 80-120 days to reach harvest. Deceived by the term “winter squash,” I endured an utter betrayal. Winter squash, I would laugh bitterly to myself, grown in the summer. Nothing seemed crueler to this amateur gardener.

I contented myself with purchasing a multitude of varieties at grocery stores, captivated by the grey knobby ones, the smooth white ones, the ridged calico ones, and the squat coral ones, clearly envisioning the day I would grow my own.

Our First “Pumpkin Palooza” was six years ago and hardly a “wild and crazy extravaganza as defined by Webster’s Dictionary. We had moved from our scant three acres on the original Suzie’s Farm property to a much larger, to us, 40-acre property on July 6, 2009. We were still growing in our awareness of how to farm. Truly, we had no idea what we were doing.

It was early October, and we had acres of beautiful pumpkins; my vision manifested — acres of pumpkins, and a tiny CSA subscription. We wrote about U-pick pumpkins in our small newsletter and on my personal Facebook page. We ran our first batch of Suzie’s Farm t-shirts to sell. I personally called friends and family and invited them to come. I offered tours of the property. I asked our Office Manager to make her legendary champurrado and hauled down to the local panaderia to extend refreshments. It was our first public event, and I was excited.

The hay bales became the first game of climbing. The girls snarled and curled around the fruit.  Wheelbarrows fascinated. My awareness was unlocked. Friends and family arrived and marveled at the size, at the scope, at the production, at the beauty.

A friend from high school arrived with a gaggle of children in tow. They exploded from the car, ready to land. Confused, they asked about the hay rides, the jumpy castle, the petting zoo. Indignant, they asked “Where will we play?!”

I surveyed the 40-acres, bound by a fence along the North and East, and trees and a berm to the South and West, stretched out my hand and replied, “Anywhere you want!” Not knowing what to do with such freedom, we started out on a tour. And this is when I knew that our farm is about so much more than the vegetables.

And, so, I heartily invite you to our 6th Annual Pumpkin Palooza, on October 17, 2015.
— Lucila De Alejandro, farmer and co-owner, Suzie’s Farm, San Diego