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Get ready to pick 'em - Siskiyou pumpkin patches open this week

Kelsey Shelton
Siskiyou Daily News
A youngster enjoys an autumn day at Hunter Orchards in Grenada.

With the CDC’s recently released guidelines and recommendations for avoiding COVID-19 transmission this Halloween, local pumpkin patches will still be open for harvest.

Papa’s Pumpkin Patch in Weed and Hunter Orchards in Grenada will be open with a few modifications to protect visitors during the pandemic.

“We have changed everything up,” said owner of Papa’s Pumpkin Patch David Burson, who runs the patch with his wife, Debbie and daughter, Dusty. The patch, located off Solus Road on Highway 97, will be open Oct. 1 through 31 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Just follow the pumpkin signs.

“It will be a little different, but pretty much the same,” said Burson, who has been running the patch for the past 17 years.

As a precaution, the fields will be open, masks optional, if social distancing is available. 

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But, Burson stresses that masks should be worn and safety measures should be followed. 

“The store where  we weigh pumpkins will be masks required. They are optional in the field with social distancing. We will have sanitizer stations with automatic dispensers around the area, and we will be cleaning everything all the time,” said Burson. There will also be limited entry to the store where customers pay for pumpkins and other goodies.

“There’s a lot we won’t do,” said Burson. “No murals, no games, and no mural photos.” Burson usually sets up a mural with head holes for photo opportunities, but he doesn’t want to risk multiple people using the feature.  

“We have set up a different kind of photo shoot with a banner we will string, but the things you don’t have to touch will still be up,” said Burson. 

“This will be our 17th year and we have a really good crop this year: winter squash, ornamental corn, and 14 or 15 different varieties of pumpkins,” said Burson.

“We are just doing the best we can,” said Burson, who, like most business owners, is concerned about the health of his patrons. “Too much is better than not enough in this environment ... We’ve had these customers for 17 years and we want to protect them and let them have a good time.”

Burson agrees with keeping precautions in place. “It’s a pandemic, 200,000 people have died,” said Burson. “It’s nothing to be lackadaisical about.”

Hunter Orchards, located at 14431 Old Westside Road in Grenada will be open daily, 10 to 6 p.m., through October this season, and owners Erik and Julie Erickson, can’t wait to see the faces of the orchard’s pumpkin-loving patrons.

“We moved from the Santa Rosa area,” said Erik. He, his wife and their two children moved to Siskiyou County in May. “We are continuing on being the stewards of this amazing land,” Erickson said.

This year at the patch, there won’t be many changes, other than masks being required in the barn near the shops and weigh stations. 

“I think there is enough space for distancing on the property,” said Erickson. The orchard boasts three acres of you-pick pumpkins, squash, gourds, peaches, and a hay maze. 

Erickson believes that people will honor the mask rules inside the premises. “We are disinfecting our wheelbarrow baskets that people use to get their pumpkins in, too,” added Erickson.

The orchard hosts “a plethora of items from the local area,” said Erickson, who has reached out to local vendors and sellers from the county. “We’re trying to get it back to its glory days,” Erickson said of the popular autumn destination.

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“There will be vendors, lavender, and some meat products in the barn as well,” said Erickson. “It’s basically a full fall market with fun decorative items, and we will have dried peaches.”

“We are trying to include vendors from the area. The Shasta valley is really fruitful,” said Erickson. “There are a lot of different producers who grow here and we wanted to showcase that this year.”