Welcome to our Halloween special and the grand finale for October 2007. Today we are heading four miles up the coast along Highway 1 to U Pick Em Pumpkins at Rodoni Farms. This palatial plot of pumpkins is located just north of Four Mile Beach and if you like colors, then U Pick Em is for U. The kids will go wild, the prices are outstanding and there are pumpkins of every race, creed and color.
I took the first shot of the farm from Four Mile Beach. It puts into perspective were this amazing place is located. The third shot shows the pumpkins right after they were picked and brought in from the fields. When it showed this picture to the lovely Donna, who runs the farm, she was amazed. “This is our place?” as she immediately focused her attention on the pumpkin’s green stems. She then added, “This isn’t just art, this is history.” I loved hearing those words. If you look closely at the second shot you can see the rock that juts up at Four Mile Beach in the right corner of the picture. The last shot shows the pumpkins in the fields on the ocean side of Highway 1. Nothing like growing up with a white water view.
The fourth photo shows the incredible variety of pumpkins that are available at Rodoni’s. The red pumpkins are La Rouge/Cinderella, which is a deep red French baking pumpkin. The ghastly white are Lumina with delicious green flesh, the green are Fairy Tales which taste like butterscotch and the gray are Jaradhale from Australia. Donna told me these are a staple in the Aussie’s diets and they eat these bright orange flesh beauties like potatoes. Ah, nothing like a cheeseburger with some pumpkin fries.
So how did the Rodini’s get into the brussels sprouts and vegetable business? In 1935, Dante Rodoni went into farming brussels sprouts with his brother-in-law. He proved to be one of the great innovators of the Brussels sprouts industry. Prior to the 1950′s sprouts were sorted by hand off a table. Mr. Rodoni was the first to see a need for and develop a system for sorting and grading sprouts mechanically. Rumor has it he graded on a curve.
In the early 1960′s the trend turned to mechanical harvesting of brussels sprouts. Mr. Rodoni developed the Rodoni Sprouts , which mechanically cuts the sprouts from the stalk. You can check out a picture of these babies in the fifth shot. Who knew that brussels sprouts were stalkers?
The Rodoni family continues to farm the North Coast by expanding crops to include peas, cauliflower, leeks and artichokes. The farm also features little Sugar Pie pumpkins, all kinds of exotic looking gourds and a flock of red-winged blackbirds.
It’s a paradise of pumpkins placed along the Pacific Coast Highway. As Donna told me yesterday, “We do it for the kids, the schools and the community.” And to think, before this I thought brussels sprouts were little kids growing up in Belgium.
So here are some pumpkin fun facts. The name pumpkin originated from “pepon”, the greek word for large melon. Pumpkins are 90% water. The largest pumpkin pie ever made was five feet in diameter and weighed 350 pounds. That included 80 pounds of pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took 6 hours to bake. Oh, and a half a cube of butter. And just in case you were wondering, the world record pumpkin is a 1,689-pound giant squash grown this year by Joe Jutras of Rhode Island. Just think of how big it could have gotten if he had a larger state to grow it in.
So that will do it for our Halloween experience. Coming up on Friday we’ll take a look at the bizarre and yet fascinating Winchester Mystery House along with a sunset that will knock your sweat socks off. And by the way, the Rodoni Farms Pumpkin patch will remain open on the honor system thru Christmas. So if you’re looking to find that special someone a holiday gift, nothing says I love you like a spaghetti, banana or turban squash. Enjoy the festival of chocolate and we’ll catch you in November.