Lane Farms presents pumpkin patch, complete with farm animals and corn maze
COVID-19 couldn’t stop an 81-year-long fall tradition from providing an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables and fun for local residents.
At 308 S. Walnut Lane in Santa Barbara, the Lane Farms Produce Stand is now open and featuring homegrown sweet corn, vine ripe tomatoes, green beans, avocados, fresh strawberries, pumpkins, winter squashes, leaf lettuce and more.
On top of that, the Lane Farms Pumpkin Patch is also now open for all ages to enjoy, with farm animals, a socially distanced corn maze, old tractors and potential hay rides to come.
And of course, many, many pumpkins.
“We have great pumpkins this year,” said John Lane, owner of Lane family farms. “We had really good growing weather.”
Mr. Lane and his wife, Ruth, celebrated 150 years of farming on that exact plot of land a few years ago. The produce stand and pumpkin patch sit directly on what’s left of the original land, farmed since 1868.
The Lane family farmed walnuts and lemon orchards, along with produce. Mr. Lane farms different pieces of property both in Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley.
“I did our first pumpkin patch in ’74, and I’ve done one ever since,” he told the News-Press. “It’s really grown in the last 20 years.”
The fate of the annual pumpkin patch was in question when the pandemic came around, but the Lanes figured out ways to maintain safe distances and keep everyone’s hands sanitized. Masks are mandatory upon entry, extra handwashing stations and hand sanitizing stations were added, shields were installed at the stands, and staff disinfects the wagons that consumers use to haul their pumpkins.
The corn maze was even widened, and while there’s a chance the hayrack rides may not be possible, the Lanes are hoping to figure out a way to keep the tradition around while maintaining safety.
“We’re kind of missing out because we don’t have any schools this year,” Mr. Lane said. “We had a lot of school kids come, and to see them have such a good time here …”
However, the Lane Farms Pumpkin Patch is still able to provide a carefree, outside activity for Santa Barbara residents and a sense of normalcy. It will remain open through Oct. 31 for families to enjoy.
“The one thing about the pumpkin patch is everybody here is pretty much just here to have a good time,” Mr. Lane said. “So everyone’s pretty much happy … And a lot of people, this year, are happy to just get out.”
Mr. Lane and Ruth have been married for 45 years, and this pumpkin patch marks No. 46 for the two farmers.
“I’m excited that we can be open and allow our friends, neighbors and community to come and enjoy something that’s become a tradition for them,” Mrs. Lane told the News-Press. “I think a lot of people are really excited to have something, anything to do. And it’s outside — what could be better?”
Julia George and her son were at the pumpkin patch on Monday, enjoying the sunshine and checking out the wide selection of pumpkins perfect for Jack-o-Lantern carving.
Her son, who is almost 4, was born in October, so Ms. George said fall activities are always something fun for them to do together.
“We moved here about a year ago, and we had a lot of pumpkin patches back East,” she told the News-Press. “So this was a nice way to support a local business and get in the fall spirit.”