Pumpkin patches operate in a new way during COVID-19 pandemic

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's officially fall, and local businesses are finding unique ways to celebrate the pumpkin season during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pumpkins of all sizes fill the grounds at Dakota Acres in Fresno County.

"The first year we did this, we made 1,500 pumpkins. This year will be a little over 5,000 pumpkins on one acre," said owner Kim Rocca.

Kim and Nick Rocca are the creators behind Dakota Acres, a private homegrown, heirloom pumpkin patch off Dakota Avenue. They grow 95 percent of the pumpkins on their land.

Kim is an event planner who had to pivot her business because of COVID-19 and dove right into a new business.

"Our labor of love of our family pumpkin patch is five years old now, and now we use those pumpkins that are homegrown here on our urban farm to bring to your porch, to decorate and bring some fall cheer," Rocca said.

Prices vary depending on the arrangement and delivery.

Over at Sweet Thistle Farms in Fresno County, pumpkins are growing for customers to pick up or enjoy at home.

"COVID-19 makes you think differently. So what people's habits are. They are getting things delivered. So we started doing porch delivery," said owner Sarah Shoffner.

This year they have planned to open the pumpkin patch. They've sold car passes in two-hour increments for those who come to visit the farm.

You can buy a pumpkin or go on a hayride.

"Fresh air, all the beautifulness that's on the farm. I just think people enjoy being outside. We are a real working farm. So I think that makes us special as well," Shoffner said.

There are about 14 varieties of pumpkins grown at the farm. Prices vary per pumpkin and on the porch delivery option you pick.

Although it may not feel like October outside right now, these businesses are hoping to give a fall experience, whether it's in person or at home.
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