FREMONT — For the first time in 40 years, there will be no old-fashioned pumpkin patch in the Tri-City area.
Looking to give both their fields and themselves a rest, the owners of J.E. Perry Farm didn't grow pumpkins this year. That means no pumpkin patch at Ardenwood Historical Farm and no corn maze, either.
The pumpkin patch probably will return next year, but the corn maze likely is a thing of the past, said Doug Perry, 54, who first planted pumpkins in Newark for his dad as a 14-year-old.
"I think, sometimes, everyone gets a little burned out," he said.
Pumpkin season means long hours for the Perrys, and last year was particularly rough one, Perry said. There were vandalism problems at the pumpkin stand and other issues at the corn maze.
"It's been hard on the family. We do it all ourselves and we're getting up there (in age)," he said. "It makes for a long month."
Perry's father started his first pumpkin patch in Newark 40 years ago, Perry said. The patch moved to the area around Station and Addition roads before coming to Ardenwood in 1982, Perry said.
At Ardenwood, the patch has been a rite of autumn for local kids who get to cart their pumpkins around in a wheelbarrow, go for a train ride around the fields and pose for pictures with wooden cartoon figures.
The family will have a small pumpkin patch in the garden area of its produce stand that will include a few of its most popular displays, Perry said.
Perry didn't go into detail about the problems with the corn maze.
He said there were logistical issues with the park and some behavioral problems with a few patrons, which he said amounted to "kids being kids."
Perry said there was "a high probability" he would bring back the pumpkin patch next year.
Fatigue wasn't the only reason the Perrys decided not to have the big patch this year.
Pumpkins should only be grown in the same field once every five years, Perry said. Also, they've had some squash bug problems, which are tough to eradicate since the farm doesn't use pesticides.
Instead of pumpkins, the Perrys are growing broccoli, lettuce and cauliflower.
The crops won't bring in as much money as the pumpkin patch, Perry said, but they should help the soil and let the family enjoy a relatively tranquil October.
"It's just something that we really felt the need to do," Perry said. "I'm going to miss the kids terribly."