West Virginia farm grows pumpkins and entertainment

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. (AP) — Stumpkins Pumpkins is now open again for the month of October to provide the local community with fall festivities.

Owners Tonya and Tom Osborne have been opening their farm as a pumpkin patch for around 20 years now, and say that they have just evolved over time into something for the community to rely on for fall entertainment.

“About 2001 or 2002 is when we started, and we actually got the idea from a farm that we would visit when we were going to see Tom’s parents,” said Tonya Osborne. “It was a big farm, and they had a pumpkin patch. … The farm operated completely on the honor system.”

Osborne goes on to say that when she and her husband decided to plant pumpkins themselves because the fall season is their favorite, they ended up with more than they knew what to do with. So they put them out in front of their house and operated on the honor system for payments of the pumpkins as well.

“To my knowledge, no one ever took advantage of us doing that because there was always money in the Mason jar, but we have stopped doing that over the years,” said Osborne.

She added, “We’ve been open ever since, minus a few years that we closed due to health issues and things like that, but COVID didn’t really slow us down, maybe a little in the first year. However, I think we’ve just grown from that.”

Tonya Osborne also has closer ties to her and her husband’s farm than just the pumpkin patch because before she built her family’s current home and the pumpkin patch there, it was her grandfather’s farm.

It was also her family name that the name of the pumpkin patch came from.

“The name Stump in Stumpkins is my maiden name, and so because it rhymed, that was what we came up with. That’s where Stumpkins Pumpkins came from,” said Osborne.

They also have some of the original things from her grandfather’s farm that they utilize today.

“The cabin was something my husband built, but he used the wood from the old barn that used to be here,” said Osborne. “It was decaying and falling down, and when it did eventually come down, my husband wanted to preserve pieces of it because of its historical value.”

She added, “The wood from the barn is around 300 years old, so it’s been here a long time and will continue to be.”

As the farm and pumpkin patch has continued to grow and evolve, so has its popularity.

“We do have families that come here year after year because they tell us that they feel they like to come here because we are local and small, and I like to think we have a good, family friendly atmosphere,” Osborne said.

Osborne said she feels that people enjoy the pumpkin patch not only because of locality but also price.

“We don’t charge admission to get in,” she said. “We want to be a place where families can come and not have to spend a whole lot of money because we know times are hard especially now.”

Osborne added, “It’s a business and of course we charge for the pumpkins and a couple of the activities, but I don’t want people to have to pay $50 or $60 just to get in.”

They have also seemed to be getting traction out of the state as well.

“I feel that we are pulling people into the area just as another type of agritourism because we have a pretty big network of people just with advertising on social media,” said Osborne. “We’ve had people from Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina just to name a few.”

A rather new tradition that Stumpkins Pumpkins has added is their Fall Festival that they do in collaboration with the Lindsay Ann Varney Foundation, and this year it will be Saturday, Oct. 8.

The foundation was created in memory of Princeton local Lindsay Varney, who lost her battle to a brain tumor 2019 at age 17, and the Osbornes knew them from church.

“They are friends of ours, and we’ve known them for quite a while,” said Osborne.

The funds that the foundation raise at any of their events all go to research for childhood cancer, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and to help families that are having a similar experience.

The pumpkin patch is open every Saturday and Sunday in October, and on the last weekend of the month, they will have Lindsay’s Haunted Barn and Corn Maze as an added event for the foundation.

While October is their busiest time of the year, the upkeep of the pumpkin patch and farm is a multiseason job.

“It keeps us pretty busy,” said Osborne. “We start planting the pumpkins in the end of April, beginning of May in the greenhouse, so that keeps up pretty busy just with the pumpkins. The general up-keep of the farm keeps us working and is time-consuming, but I am fortunate to not have to work in the summer since I work for the school.”

The couple loves the pumpkin patch and fall, and Osborne said that because it is so important to their family, their kids will continue it long into the future.

“I feel like they will keep it going,” she said. “We have been blessed to have this farm and this property, and so we are blessed that we are able to be in a position to share it.”

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