The beloved patch got its start nearly 50 years ago in the early 1970s. Married couple Virginia and Cyril and their four sons Victor, Ken Time and Jeff were like most working families at the time. Cyril worked at Ford Motor Company and Virginia was a stay-at-home mom who enjoyed gardening and farming. While growing the biggest pumpkins was not necessarily a big deal in the 1970s, carving pumpkins has long been a tradition and Virginia made a modest sum selling her small crop each fall.
Over the years, the Bird family became known in community for their pumpkins, and residents continued to show up each fall. Eventually, the business took off. As Virginia grew older, she became too busy gardening and decorating cakes for local residents to care for the farm herself, so her son Ken took over farming responsibilities and transformed the business in many ways. After 10 years, Ken stepped down to spend more time with his children. That’s when his brother Jeff stepped up and took over the family business.
“Farming was always a hobby for me—one that has turned into a full-time job and profitable business” Jeff says. “I spend almost all year preparing, planting and harvesting the field so we have a steady supply of pumpkins come fall.”
The Bird family farm has a total of 15 acres of land, five of which are reserved for pumpkin farming. Other crops Jeff farms include corn and soybeans, and his father, Cyril, tends a small raspberry patch. The Bird family also works with a local beekeeper, who uses pollination to keep the crops healthy and produces jars of local, organic honey to be sold at the patch.
Since the beginning, pumpkin farming has been a family ordeal at Bird’s, and that remains true to this day. Jeff’s adult son, Geoffrey, helps his father on the farm in the spring and summer. Geoffrey and his wife are expecting a baby, so the farm will be welcoming its newest and youngest farmer in the next several months.
“I’ve run my family’s business for almost 20 years now and working with customers has always been my favorite part,” Jeff says. “I’ve met a lot of people over the years and have had the opportunity to serve grandparents, their children and their children’s children. Generations of families have bought pumpkins from our patch, just like generations of my family have worked on it.”
Bird’s Big Pumpkin Patch is open daily from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Pumpkins are available for purchase in October and raspberries are available from September and last until heavy frosts end the season.