For many of us that run fall agritourism businesses, we have discovered the significant impact that selling pumpkins can make to our bottom line. In this article, we'll talk about the reasons that you should be selling pumpkins, selling & pricing strategies, growing vs. buying, and more.
Why should I sell pumpkins?
Attendance: Pumpkins are something that potential customers associate with a fall agritourism venue and blends very well with most other fall related farm agritourism activities. There are few things that evoke a better image of a fun family outing in the fall than a hayride to the pumpkin patch. Adding pumpkin sales to your venue is nearly a guarantee to increased attendance and profit.
Profit: Pumpkins have a great profit margin even if you don’t grow them yourself. Pumpkin sales can easily add thousands of dollars of profit to your bottom line each year if not significantly more.
Field Trips & Parties: Pumpkins are a great draw for field trips and parties. You can include a small pumpkin in your field trip/party package and it will increase your ability to fill up your schedule.
Create a Pumpkin Patch Experience if Possible
As stated above, a hayride to the pumpkin patch is a popular fall family outing. Even if you don’t want to grow you own pumpkins, setting up a “pumpkin patch” atmosphere can be a big draw and one that usually provides additional revenue opportunities over just offering them at the front of the farm or in your market.
For safety reasons, many farms that grow their own pumpkins don’t have guests actually picking pumpkins from the field where they were grown. The vines are significant tripping hazards, as are the tools necessary to cut the pumpkin from the vine. A field with pumpkins set out in rows can be just as effective.
What if you don’t offer hayrides or don’t have enough wagons to supply the demand? Simply locate your pumpkin patch in an area of the farm that can be walked to easily and safely, and offer wagons to use to carry the pumpkins (free or for rent), such as these on our resources page.
If you just don’t have the space for a pumpkin patch or even if you do have a pumpkin patch, you should always offer pumpkins at the front of the farm. This makes it simple for those visitors who are not there for the full experience, but only want to purchase pumpkins.
Pricing – Per Pound vs. Flat Rate
There are people on both sides of this debate. I have tried both in my years of agritourism and my opinion is that flat rate is the way to go. Here's why:
Customer Experience: It's clear to the customer what they will pay at check out before they get there. I have found that most people underestimate the weight of the pumpkin. While some people see this as an advantage and average sales may be higher, I have found this to impact the customer experience. They find out the actual price and either have to tell little Sally that she has to pick a smaller pumpkin or they feel duped into spending more than they had planned.
Fast Processing: Selling pumpkins by the pound can really slow down your checkout process. Weighing each pumpkin and then calculating the price takes significantly longer than a flat rate based on size.
Mobile Payments: Mobile payment in the pumpkin patch is much easier if a scale doesn’t have to be transported, setup on a level sturdy surface, etc. All that is needed is a smartphone with an application like Stripe installed.
Here are my favorite varieties and why:
If you are offering pumpkins to field trips or party groups, a small pie pumpkin is a must. There are many varieties in this size category to choose from such as “Wee-Be-Little”, “Apprentice” or “Sugar Babies” along with many more.
The most popular and common pumpkin of them all is the standard orange carving pumpkin. There are too many variety options to list but this is what most people think of when going to the pumpkin patch.
The “Wolf” is becoming very popular for their extremely thick and sturdy stem. This is a variety you can offer as an alternative at a higher price.
White pumpkins are becoming more and more popular each year. The variety below is called “Cotton Candy” but there are others as well. I like this variety because the size and the stem are the closest to your typical pumpkin.
The “One Too Many” variety is another great addition to your specialty pumpkins. It has a great, unique striped look.
I also like to bring in a dozen or so giant pumpkins each year - the 100–300 pound variety, not the 1000 pound variety! They make for great photo opportunities and I will typically find people that want to buy them even though I may have to charge $50 or more for them. They are a great way to set yourself apart from the competition as well.
Where to Buy
Of course, growing your own pumpkins allows you the opportunity for the greatest profit – if the weather cooperates. With that said, many of us don’t want to go through the hassle of growing our own or at least not growing more than 1 or 2 varieties. We then turn to wholesalers, such as Sexton Farms at www.gopumpkins.com, who has the ability to deliver all around the US, or another option would be Valfei at www.valfei.com, who can deliver to the US and Canada.
In my opinion, if you run a fall agritourism venue on your farm and are not offering pumpkins for sale – you should start this fall. If you already offer pumpkins at your venue, consider adding something new this year to keep things fresh. Maybe offer giant pumpkins, or a special pumpkin carving contest day with a great prize awarded to the winner, or pumpkin bowling, or something else that can keep this area of your venue fresh and exciting and keep people coming back.