If you prefer a large, commercial pumpkin ‘patch’ (usually with no actual patch) with face painters, petting zoos and rides, this place is not for you. If however you love a simple, more old school patch (with a patch where you can wander for your pumpkin) with bountiful selection, great prices, a pristine country view and a good honest proprietor, Loukonen Farms will be perfect in your eyes, as it is in mine.
After years of driving past beckoning signs on Highway 36 between Boulder and Lyons, I pulled in to Loukonen Farms last year to take a peek. It was serendipitous as I will forever buy my pumpkins here. I wrote an article on the farm and John Loukonen last year (click here) which I encourage you read. John is ‘one of the good guys’, a farmer in the area whose family roots go back decades, and he himself a bit of a Renaissance Man, enjoying stone sculpture as a past time along with farming.
When you drive into the farm you are greeted by a vast selection of pumpkins and gourds, all neatly grouped for easy picking. Corn stalks are erected providing a charming backdrop to the scene and are also for sale. The prices are incredibly reasonable and the pumpkins high quality.
This year a man helping John offered there were more large pumpkins ‘in the patch’. We drove around the farm buildings on a little dirt road to the patch. The farm is directly across Highway 36 from the foothills with a sprawling view to the east of farm land. The Loukonen family has made arrangements with the county to sell some of this land for Open Space preservation in the settling of their father’s estate. They wanted to keep it the way it is and after standing in the quiet pumpkin patch in the late afternoon of this perfect fall day, I appreciated this.
We started with an ‘if you pick it, you have to carry it’ rule in our group of pickers which quickly went awry as total ‘upper body workout’ sized pumpkins were selected, leaving me hauling them in a my J. Crew suede flats through the furrows of the terrain, hoping not to catch a vine with my pointed toes on the way to the car. As with picking the perfect Christmas tree, the selection made the final choice a challenge and a delight.
We departed with two monstrous beasts of pumpkins, a normal person’s really large sized pumpkin, two medium white pumpkins and a bag brimming with various exotic gourds and mini pumpkins with a bill of $35. I challenge you to find that around this area. John sells carving pumpkins, edible pie pumpkins and ornamental gourds. The trip is completely worth a few minutes of his genteel company shooting the breeze. He’s good people; no doubt about that.
· The farm’s actual address is 10558 N. Foothills Highway (Hwy 36), Longmont but it cannot be missed driving down the highway between mile markers 25 and 26 on the east side of the road (as you near the juncture with Hwy 66 coming from Boulder). You’ll see signs as you are within a mile of his property (‘Halloween is Near ‘Pumpkins are Here’ ‘1 mile’) and the telltale pickup truck whose bed is filled with pumpkins in October.
· The pumpkin patch is open daily through October 31 from around 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
· If you’d like to contact John about his sculptures you can do so by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (303.823.6158).
For the BEST method of roasting your pumpkin seeds click here! Truly makes all the difference with one extra step!
Post Picking Excursion: Following our bountiful haul, we traipsed into Lyons for a walk around and some ice cream at the Lyon’s Soda Fountain. If you have not visited it is a 1920’s style soda fountain complete with an historical bar and equipment set up. They serve diner style food along with any ice cream dessert you could imagine from a soda fountain. Their hours often change in the non summer season but as of now they are open daily and worth a stop. You can find them on the main street in town at 400 Main Street. Click here for their website which has a map, hours and more.
This seemed the perfect time to try out a recipe I again found in my Grandmother’s recipe box. A Sunset Magazine recipe for Pumpkin Bars from 1967. There is something a bit mind bending to me about making food that people were eating forty some odd years ago and have the recipe turn out just as perfectly as something innovated today. If there was ever any question about food weaving us together over generations I am sure from making some of these vintage recipes that it is a textural thread running through families and civilizations that ties us all together.
PUMPKIN BARS with Orange Glaze
When I looked at the ingredient quantities and the originally suggested pan size, I was dubious. I elected to change the pan size which allowed these to turn out plump and more cakelike. The recipe below reflects the modifications I made to the original 1967 recipe which turned out delicious. Check the original recipe for alternatives.
· ½ cup (one stick) unsalted butter, softened
· 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
· 1 egg, room temperature
· ½ cup canned pumpkin (or make your own pumpkin puree; click here)
· 1 ½ cup all purpose flour (regular or gluten free)
· ½ teaspoon xanthan gum if making these gluten free
· 1 teaspoon cinnamon
· ½ teaspoon ground ginger
· ½ teaspoon mace
· ½ teaspoon baking soda
· ½ cup raisins
· ½ cup pecans, chopped
· 1 cup powdered sugar
· 2 ½ tablespoons quality orange juice
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In the bowl of a standing mixer cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and pumpkin; beat to combine fully.
3. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, spices, baking soda (and xanthan gum if making gluten free). Slowly add into butter-sugar-pumpkin mixture until combined. On low speed blend raisins and pecans until fully combined.
4. Grease a 9 x 9 square baking pan. Pour batter into pan and smooth out to be even. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
5. While the bars are baking prepare the Orange Glaze. Whisk together the powdered sugar and orange juice. When the ‘cake’ is out of the oven, paint the glaze on while still warm.
6. Allow ‘cake’ to cool. Cut into bars. Depending on portion size, makes about 16 1 inch thick bars…..that are delicious if I do say so.