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Local pumpkin patch offers autumnal experience
new deh pumpkin patch main pic
A Jefferson Elementary School student carefully carries her pumpkin out of Long Pumpkin Patch northeast of Great Bend on a recent afternoon. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

The Long Pumpkin Patch is located northeast of Great Bend just off NE 30 Road west of Barton Community College and across from Bissell Point. It is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays 1-5 p.m. through Halloween. They also make special arrangements for school and other groups. For more information, call 620-792-3503 or e-mail

Olive’s Pumpkin Patch opens near Ellinwood

ELLINWOOD — A new pumpkin patch, Olive’s Pumpkin Patch, has opened south of Ellinwood at 248 SE 100 Ave. It is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each Saturday in October.
Jason Winget opened the patch with his wife Harmony to provide something for kids to do and for fun for the family. With 1,000 pumpkins ready for harvest, participants not only can  pick a pumpkin for Halloween but can enjoy other activities.
“We have bounce houses, face painting, gourd launchers and horse rides,” said Winget. Tickets for games are 50 cents. Concessions will also be available.
On Oct. 22, they will hold a pig roast and are also open for parties and special events.

On a recent afternoon, dozens of students from Jefferson Elementary School roamed the Long Pumpkin Patch northeast of Great Bend.
With giggles and squeals of delight, they were each on a quest for the ideal kid-sized pumpkin to take home. “Holly moly,” shouted one youngster as he spied a orange gourd just about as large as he was.
Roger Long, the owner, was in his element. He and his wife Dana love pumpkins and tell their story to whomever will listen.
“Pumpkins have come to be my passion,” Long said. “Sharing them with customers – especially little kids – and teaching them about the crop is as good as it gets.”
They hope their new location just off NE 30 Road west of Barton Community College and across from Bissell's Point will increase their visibility. They have added a trading post, playground equipment, a sandbox filled with corn and other activities.
He stood in his patch packed with orange gourds of various shades. “That’s about two acres of pumpkins.”
As he spoke, Dana visited with the children, telling them how Native Americans used to cultivate the plants. She passed around samples of pumpkins and slimy pumpkin seeds, as well as Indian corn.
This marks Long’s fourth year to plant the fall favorites. He started with a half acre northeast of town four years ago and has been expanding ever since.
Normally, he plants his pumpkins around June 1, but because of the move and related delays, he was about 10 days late this year. This coupled with the hot, dry summer has curtailed the number of successful plants.
“This year’s been tough,” he said. “We fought drought all year and the heat kept pumpkins from setting on until late.” But, even with all that, “we have pumpkins for sale and more are ripening every day.”
He also fights squash beetles and other pests, just like any farm. But, in the real world, Long sells agriculture chemicals so he knows how to handle bugs.
An occasional deer also helps itself to a pumpkin buffet.
Long opens the patch up to families and school field trips where, for the cost of the pumpkins they pick ($0.40 per pound), guests have an entertaining fall experience.
 Long, a frustrated farmer, plants 20 varieties of the fruit which vary in size, shape and color. Some are for pie, some for Jack-o’-lanterns and some just for decoration. Some are even squash/pumpkin hybrids. But, “that just scratches the surface,” he said.
Looking out across the field, Long can spot which one is which. “I can pretty much tell my varieties.” What he grows weighs up to about 60 pounds, but he is thinking about planting a type that gets much bigger.
“I grew up on a farm,” Long said. “This is my farming outlet.” He grew up near Washington, in northeast Kansas, and has lived in Great Bend since 1991.
Long involves his family in the endeavor, and they love it. Long, his wife, his 12-year-old daughter Calista and 6-year-old son Ellis plant the seeds by hand, as well as pull weeds and whatever else is necessary.
He practices no-till farming, leaving the vines and other plant residue in tact. This serves many purposes – it keeps moisture and nutrients in the soil and prevents the field from becoming a muddy mess for visitors. A drip-line irrigation system keeps the plants watered.
Although this is the season for pumpkins, a hard freeze too early could be devastating. This can cause the fruit to freeze solid and bring on early rotting.