Time to pick the perfect pumpkin in Clark County

Lift on trailer adds to the pumpkin patch fun

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian Arts & Features Reporter

Published:

 

Clark County PUMPKIN PATCHES

BI-ZI FARMS

Open for picking in October: 2 to 5:30 p.m. Fridays; 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Group appointments available on weekdays.

Where: 9504 N.E. 119th St., Vancouver.

Featuring: Pumpkin patch, 6-acre corn maze, “bale maze,” pumpkin launchers, farm animals, antique equipment, more.

Admission (includes one pumpkin and all activities): $10; $8 for seniors; free for 2 and under. Nighttime corn maze only: $5 per person, Fridays and Saturdays from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Bring a flashlight.

Contact: 360-574-9119 or www.bizifarms.com

JOE’S PLACE FARMS

Open for picking in October: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays.

Where: 701 N.E. 112th Ave., Vancouver.

Featuring: Pumpkin patch, 3-acre corn maze, straw tepee, fort maze, hay rides.

Admission: Free, but pumpkin prices vary; $2 for hay rides and fort maze.

Contact: 360-892-3974 or http://joesplacefarms.com

POMEROY FARM

Open for picking in October: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.

Where: 20902 N.E. Lucia Falls Road, Yacolt.

Featuring: Hay ride down Pumpkin Lane, farm animals, pumpkin flume, hay bale maze, games, historic house tours, food vendors.

Admission: $6; $4 for age 3-11. Pumpkin prices vary by size.

Contact: 360-686-3537 or http://pomeroyfarm.org

VELVET ACRES GARDENS (“VANCOUVER PUMPKIN PATCH”)

Open for picking in October: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.

Where: 18905 N.E. 83rd St., Vancouver.

Featuring: Hay rides to pumpkin patch (Wednesdays and Fridays-Sundays only); petting zoo, hay tunnels, more.

Admission: $6 for rides and one pumpkin; free for petting zoo and hay tunnels.

Contact: 360-892-0434 or www.vancouverpumpkinpatch.com

WALTON FARMS

Open for picking in October: 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Where: 1617 N.E. 267th Ave., Camas.

Featuring: Barrel train and hay wagon rides, corn maze, farm animals, one pumpkin from the patch.

Admission (includes one pumpkin): $12; $10 for 55 and up; free (no pumpkin) for 2 and under.

Contact: 360-834-2810 or http://waltonsfarms.com

Here’s a seasonal word to the ability-privileged: Your favorite neighborhood pumpkin patch is not an even playing field. It’s muddy and soupy; it’s rocky and bumpy; it’s tilting and treacherous.

Something like 7,000 schoolchildren annually roll up to Brush Prairie’s Bi-Zi Farms in yellow school buses and family minivans — not to mention paratransit shuttles such as C-Van. But once they’ve arrived, the kids in wheelchairs typically have to wait behind while their friends gleefully clamber aboard the pumpkin wagon and head out to where all the orange action is.

That never sat right with Bill Zimmerman, the patriarch of the place, who said: “We kept looking, we kept wondering, how can we do something to help these kids?” He called around to appropriate businesses, he said, but the only solution he got offered was the purchase of a fully outfitted paratransit vehicle. That was a bit more than he had in mind, he said.

In the end, Zimmerman made it right by making do. He and his son, Doug, were perusing an online auction of used machinery when they spotted a used electric wheelchair lift and went for it.

“We weren’t sure what we were buying or how it worked,” Zimmerman laughed, but he quickly settled on what seemed like a reasonable top bid of $500; in the end, Bi-Zi Farms got the gizmo for a small fraction of that amount, he said — and then spent the equivalent of a full work week installing it on the side of one of Bi-Zi’s fleet of nine pumpkin wagons.

Doug found the installation and safety manual online, Zimmerman said, and they followed it carefully. They learned, for example, that this lift is cleverly goof-proof, with a built-in sensor that prevents its floor from tilting upwards and closing up — like a drawbridge — if anybody is upon it. It only shuts when it knows it’s empty.

The biggest challenge, he said, was electric power. Each use of the lift by one person is actually a cycle of four uses: initial ascent at the barnyard, followed by descent into the pumpkin field; then an ascent from the pumpkin field followed by the final descent back in the barnyard. Raising and lowering a heavy lift that’s hefting hundreds of pounds of cargo really drains the battery, he said; he and Doug figured out how to generate power and keep the battery charged via some leftover mechanical friction, Prius-style, he said.

“I hope the kids really enjoy this,” he said. “It had its first test run” at a pumpkin-themed birthday party in late September where the parents — not to mention the kids — were “just elated,” he said.

Zimmerman, who’s a member of a regional farm-marketing group, added that he’s pretty sure his farm is the only one in the region that’s taken such a step toward accessibility.

But wait — how’s the ground out where the kids roll off the lift and start picking pumpkins? Not perfect, Zimmerman admitted — but after many seasons of pumpkin perusal, “It’s pretty packed down.”

Plentiful patches

Bi-Zi may be the only farm in the area that’s added some accessibility to its pumpkin patch, but it’s not alone in opening its fields to seasonal fun. Check out our list of active pumpkin patches here in Clark County. Prices and deals vary.

And watch out for next week’s seasonal story in this space, which will explore scarier Halloween sites: haunted houses, secret laboratories and frightening forests full of — we hate to say it — clowns.