Pumpkin shortage at Athens’ local farms

The Gold Family Farm, a local farm, nestled six miles southwest of Ohio University has been a hotspot for pumpkin picking in years past. But this year, the pumpkin pickings are slim.

In 1937, the parents of current owner, Julie Garner, started the farm, growing mostly produce and raising a small amount of cows, hogs and chickens. They harvested everything from hay to corn and tomatoes to peppers.

By 2005, Mr. Gold passed away and Garner and her husband moved back to their hometown and asked Mrs. Gold to take over the farm and name it in honor of their favorite man, Mr. Gold.

Since 2005, the couple has maintained great business at the farm, hosting a pick your own pumpkin patch and hay rides, as well as selling their produce. Unfortunately, over the past two years the harvest has failed to produce a substantial crop thanks to uncooperative weather.

Because of the lack of harvest, the farm has barely brought in any money and the pick your own pumpkin patch has been cancelled for the second year in a row, upsetting customers.

Five years ago, the Garner’s created a solution for mediocre harvests, a flea market, as a way to bring in people and money during the years that didn’t fare so well. In 2010, the farm hosted only 10 vendors, but this past weekend they had a remarkable 99 vendors set up selling natural foods, crafts and hand-made items.

Their Facebook page is filled with positive feedback and excitement about the flea market’s success. Despite overwhelming success with the flea market, it is still difficult for the farm to stay afloat.

Thank you to everyone who came out to our Flea Market this year. We appreciate your support. I wish to thank the vendors…

Posted by The Gold Family Farm on Sunday, October 18, 2015

“I think this will be the last year for the farm. We will probably keep a small garden but this year will be it for the farm,” Garner said.

Two years without a successful harvest put the Garner’s in a difficult position. But both agree that it is time to give the farming life a rest and move along and start pursuing other dreams and goals.

“It’s definitely bitter sweet. We are sad about it in a lot of ways. Sure we will miss it but we have other adventures,” Garner said.

Customers are also upset to see the traditional farm go.

“My organization has held a sisterhood event there and it was a great time! This year we couldn’t go because they had no pumpkins. It was a bummer,” Haley Stultz, a senior at Ohio University, said.

Treat Yo Self at the Athens Farmer’s Market

The push to support local products has greatly increased in recent years. With the growth of genetically modified foods, it has been more and more difficult to find fresh produce that has not been unnaturally altered in some way.

Fortunately, Athens has an answer to both of these dilemmas. Every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., the Athens Farmer’s Market is open in the parking lot beside Texas Roadhouse on East State Street. Additionally, the Farmer’s Market is open from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Wednesdays from April through December and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays from May through September.

The Farmer’s Market is a delight in the fall. On a crisp Saturday morning in the autumn, what could be better than sampling and buying some great local foods? The market is brimming with all kinds of delectable fall eats: apple cider made with locally grown apples, squash, kettle corn, pumpkin pies and bread, maple walnut fudge, you name it.

I visited the Athens Farmer’s Market to talk to a few vendors about their bestselling fall items and why they chose this market as a venue for their products.