Yacolt family’s pumpkin patch a no-show, so give turkey a try
Another strange twist in the world of Clark County pumpkin patches came about at JD's Famous Pumpkin Patch, 19407 N.E. Gabriel Road, in Yacolt.
Despite the "famous" moniker, the Schwindt family created its first pumpkin patch last year.
It was very successful, and the family planned to expand the patch this year, until an issue with fertilizer got in the way.
"We didn't fertilize so well," said Butch Schwindt, who's son J.D. owns the farm. "Last year we did about an acre, and this year we tilled up another four acres and seeded it, but the only place we got pumpkins is where the cattle were feeding, and that didn't go so well."
So instead of pumpkins, JD's Famous Pumpkin Patch has about 125 free range turkeys for sale. People can come by and pick out their Thanksgiving bird early (they sell for about $4 a pound) and JD's will care for, butcher and clean it in time for the holiday, he said.
"The difference in the flavor of one of our birds compared to what you buy in the supermarket is unbelievable," Schwindt said.
The family thought about bringing in pumpkins from another farm to make a pumpkin patch this year, but decided against it, he added.
— Sue Vorenberg
Clark County pumpkin patches
• Bi-Zi Farms: 9504 N.E. 119th St., Brush Prairie.
Hours: 2-5:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sundays. Corn maze open 6 to 9:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Admission: $8 per person, includes activities and a pumpkin. Free for children ages 2 and under. $5 for after-hours corn maze.
• La Center Farms: 31215 N.E. 40th Ave., La Center.
Hours: Pumpkin patch: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays; Frightland: 7-9 p.m. last three Fridays and Saturdays of the month.
Admission: Pumpkin patch is free. Pumpkin prices vary. Frightland showing of the film "Addams Family Values" is free. $4 adults/$3 for 12 and under for the Frightland haunted woods tour.
• Joe's Place Farms: 701 N.E. 112th Ave., Vancouver.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.
Admission: Pumpkin patch is free, $1 for corn maze, $1 for hay ride weekdays 4-5:30 p.m. (starts Oct. 9), weekends all day.
• Velvet Acres Gardens: 18905 N.E. 83rd St., Vancouver.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays.
Admission: $5 hay ride price includes pumpkin, animal petting farm and hay tunnel.
• Pomeroy Living History Farm: 20902 N.E. Lucia Falls Road, Yacolt.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, 1-5 p.m. Sundays.
Admission: $6 for adults, $4 for kids ages 3-11, free for kids under age 3.
• Walton Farm: 1617 N.E. 267th Ave., Camas.
Hours: 3-6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Admission: Free. $1 for barrel train ride, $2.50 for corn maze.
Fall has arrived in Clark County, bringing the usual array of pumpkin patches, hay rides, mazes and frights.
There are plenty of opportunities for the kids to frolic while you search out the perfect candidate for Halloween carving. But if you're looking to do so with a cup of hot, unpasteurized apple cider, there's only one game in town.
Joe Beaudoin, 72, owner of Joe's Place, has been pressing his own cider since 1974. The farm, which has a pumpkin patch, permanent maze, hay rides and other activities, serves hot apple cider on weekends during the fall festivities.
"We always sell out of it — we can't usually make it through a busy weekend with any left over," Beaudoin said.
Hot cider is a fall tradition in many parts of the country, but a scare in the 1990s forced many local farmers to put cider making on the back burner.
In 1996, Odwalla juice made headlines when a batch of its unpasteurized apple juice was connected to an E. coli outbreak.
Since then, federal and state governments have added strict regulations for sellers and producers of unpasteurized apple cider. And almost all the farms that made their own cider in the region stopped.
Beaudoin has continued though. He has the mandatory insurance required to produce it and he's the only one in Clark County who still makes it.
He uses a stainless steel press and combines a variety of apples — and a few pears — to make a cider that's a mix of sweet and tart that doesn't need the traditional spices like cinnamon or nutmeg, he said.
"A pear adds a nice little flavor," Beaudoin said. "People always ask me what spices I add to it, but I actually don't add any."
For those looking for a more traditional setting — or who are just looking to buy a pumpkin — there are lots of other Clark County farms with many options to choose from.
Brush Prairie's Bi-Zi Farms, the largest pumpkin patch in Clark County, gets about 25,000 visitors each October. The patch includes a corn maze, hay bale maze, animal petting farm and pumpkin launcher.
Joe's Place Farms in Vancouver isn't as big, but it has somewhere between 20 and 30 different varieties of pumpkin to choose from along with its permanent maze, corn stalk teepee and hay rides.
Pomeroy Living History Farm in Yacolt features a tractor ride along Pumpkin Lane, with pumpkin-headed scarecrows set up to mimic scenes from films or doing activities like fishing.
It also has a petting zoo, a hay bale maze, a sandbox filled with oats and other attractions for kids.
La Center Farms, which is usually a Christmas tree farm, has a small pumpkin patch and some attractions for the kids like a hay bale maze and a potato gun range. Its main draw is Frightland, which includes a haunted walk through the woods and screening of the film "Addams Family Values."
The haunted woods, which has actors and a variety of scary scenes, is about 25 percent bigger this year and covers a quarter-mile, said Stephen Boynton, who owns the farm.
"We have a little graveyard, a couple of bridges to walk over, and we'll have various characters throughout," Boynton said.
Walton Farm in Camas has a 5-acre corn maze, a petting zoo, corn stalks, hay bales and other attractions.
"The most famous thing I have out there is the barrel train," said owner Jeff Walton. "It's 10 cars long and it's pulled by a little tractor. The barrels have seeds in them and kids can sit in them."