BUFFALO - As the growing season winds down for many West Virginia gardeners, the pace is picking up for Gritt's Farms with its popular Pumpkin Patch.
"Spring was once our big season," said Lois Gritt McCray. "Now this is our big season."
Plump pumpkins are ripe for the plucking at this pick-your-own spot where kids can learn that pumpkins do not grow in grocery store bins.
The Pumpkin Patch opens for the season on Saturday and will remain open to the public through Halloween. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.
Last year, about 10,000 visitors made their way to Putnam County during Pumpkin Patch season.
The farm includes about 280 acres rich at various times throughout the year in vegetables, flowers, melons and squash. The draw this time of year is pumpkins. Kids come with their parents and grandparents. Groups come from schools, churches, scouts and 4-H.
Besides pumpkin plucking, there are plenty of activities, including hayrides, corn and hay mazes, slides, swings, games, concessions, and corn bins where kids can play in shelled corn (similar to ball bins found at some restaurants).
Family members tend the land and employees are hired as needed during various seasons.
McCray's grandparents, Tony and Nally Gritt, bought the property in 1927. Her parents, Nellie and Lee, started a chicken farm in the 1950s, a business that included a door-to-door egg route. Lee Gritt, who passed away in 1986, earned a degree in agriculture from West Virginia University. Nellie Gritt passed away a couple of years ago.
Family members now involved in the business include McCray, 55, her brother Bob, 56, and his sons, Bobby, 24, and Bradley, 23.
Bob Gritt said it has been a challenging year, but he believes there will be an adequate supply of pumpkins.