Osborn Farm is gearing up once again for its yearly pumpkin picking festivities. In existence since 1861 and consisting of just under 120 acres, it is the oldest continually family-owned farm in Colorado.
It was founded by W. B. Osborn, who, along with his family, traveled west from New York in a covered wagon to what would become the state of Colorado. They settled on the land and established one of the first working farms in the Thompson Valley near present day Loveland.
Today, Pam and Dale Osborn carry on the tradition of Dale’s ancestors by growing pumpkins on the farm. Their sons, Wallis, Yates, and Conor, also help out on weekends with their wives.
“In 1980, when the boys were really little, we had a babysitting co-op with stay-at-home moms and we grew some pumpkins just for fun,” says Pam. “We had a bumper crop and I called preschools to see if they wanted any for the kids, but nobody took them,” Pam says.
Not sure what else to do with all those pumpkins, Pam put them out by the road with a sign offering them for free. But instead of just taking them, many people started leaving money under the pumpkins.
“It was really funny,” she says. “So, the next year we put out a hollowed-out pumpkin in case people wanted to leave a donation. And that’s how it started.”
Besides offering pumpkins and fun family activities in the fall, she and Dale eventually started what they called Market Days. They brought in some antique vendors for the first opening weekend and ended up doing that for 18 years. When it became too big to handle, they decided to go back to their original plan.
“It got too congested and we felt we had the lost the young families, which was the whole reason we started it,” says Pam. “So, we do the pumpkins now. We also have a coffee truck and someone who does kettle corn and ice cream.”
As of September 26, Osborn Farm will be open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm every day. There is no admission fee.
“People can just come and walk around the pumpkin patch and pick pumpkins,” says Pam. “Around the barn, we’ll have our beautiful specialty pumpkins, gourds, and Indian corn. We’ll also bring in some pumpkins because we realize that not everybody wants to go into the field.”
There are about 40 wheelbarrows that people can take out to the field. Once pumpkins are picked, they are weighed on one of four antique grain scales.
This year, due to COVID-19, Pam says things are going to be more low key. Along with the pumpkins, they’ll probably just have a couple of vendors. For safety reasons, the staff will be wearing face shields and all visitors have to wear a mask except when they can socially distance out in the fields. The couple is looking forward to seeing people at their farm.
Vickie Dennis, from the Flowers for 3 Greenhouse in Milliken, will be there. She has been bringing mums to the farm for years.
“They don’t last long; she generally sells out the first weekend,” says Pam. “They are really lovely.”
They usually offer a barrel train ride, built by her sons with 55-gallon barrels that are pulled with a lawn tractor. There’s a little seat and a toy steering wheel and the kids love it. Unfortunately, the train ride and the hayrides will have to be skipped this year.
“We’ve also had a couple of different 4-H clubs come over the years and set up a petting zoo,” she says. “They’ve brought different animals such as donkeys, lambs, and goats. I don’t know if they are coming this year; it depends on their own regulations. It’s a huge money maker for our 4-H clubs and I would hate for them not to have it.”
Since children will be doing remote learning this fall, Pam encourages parents to bring their children to the farm as a learning experience. They can see where the pumpkins grow and observe the older scales, unlike the ones in grocery stores.
"It’s important for kids to see where their food comes from because we all tend to take it for granted. Parents can say, "You know those green beans you eat for dinner at night? Well, it’s people like this who are growing them for you,"" Pam says. “My family and I, we do this all together now. Everyone finds their niche, and it's ours.”