Posted on September 20, 2012 by Indiana's Cool North
It’s Hoosier Harvest time! Apples are ripe, pumpkins are huge, but there’s plenty of fun left to enjoy in Indiana. Farms that weathered the heat of summer are sharing the bounty.
Of the 3,500-acres comprising Leininger Farms in Mishawaka, a full 12 acres are pumpkins. “We have the largest variety of pumpkins in the area,” says Kristy Leininger. Kristy’s husband, Joe, and father-in-law, Ed, run the farm, which has been in the family for four generations. “We have white pumpkins, green pumpkins and even some pinkish pumpkins that look like they have peanuts on them, plus your typical orange pumpkins and pie pumpkins and more,” she says.
At Leininger, the picking is easy as the pumpkin pros pluck them ahead of time and organize them into rows by size and variety, beginning with $1 pie pumpkins all the way up to the largest ones—up to 100 pounds. “We have an old tire with handles on the sides that people can use to roll the biggest ones to their cars. It takes two people,” Kristy says.
Back in the day, pumpkins were thought to remove freckles and cure snakebites. Though those claims may be inflated, we do know that pumpkins are a great food source. A single cup of cooked pumpkin has less than 90 calories and provides 3 grams of protein and more vitamin A than a cup of cooked carrots. Even the seeds are edible. Plus, they look so pretty on the porch!
Leininger Farms is also famous for its 10-acre corn maze. This year’s theme is Vote 2012, complete with donkey and elephant graphics cut into the rows. The down-home maize maze is actually quite high-tech, mapped out with the help of GPS. Twenty stations along the two miles challenge your knowledge with history or government questions (answers at the end). If you need a little help, there’s a Smart Maze app for your smartphone! “We haven’t lost anyone yet,” says Kristy, optimistically.
These fun celebrations of Hoosier Harvest are throughout the region, visit http://www.pumpkinpatchesandmore.org/INpumpkins.php to find one near you as well as a pumpkin pie recipe using fresh pumpkin.
Freelancer writer Kim Ranegar lives in Valparaiso and prefers triangular eyes on her pumpkins. “They’re the easiest to carve!”