'A celebration of Powassan farming': Great Pumpkin Tour draws large crowds to area farms

With Thanksgiving and Halloween right around the corner, farms, and general stores in the Powassan area were hosting their customers for tours and a chance to purchase locally grown fresh vegetables.

It’s part of ‘The Great Pumpkin Tour’ and is a follow-up to ‘The Great Powassan and Area Farmstead Tour’ hosted in the area earlier this year.  The tours aim to give farms a boost during the busy season.

“All the farmers markets are ending so the farm stands have their vegetables for sale,” explained organizer Kathie Hogan, who also serves as the event coordinator at 250 Clark.

“Now they have a chance to see their customers face to face. Farm stands are self serve.”

Over at the Wand Family Farm, the sheep are eating, the turkeys call out and the crowds gather. The farm is one of the stops along the farm tour.

“Some of the activities we see here on the farm are sheep sheering, we have our cattle and our sheep in the barnyard,” explained owner Markus Wand.

There are 15 stops along the tour, which also include a general store and animal feed store. Five of the stops are in town. The idea sprung up last spring when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Farms became isolated from hungry customers which hurt the industry.

“It’s a really huge event for local farmers,” smiled Hogan. “We’ve got farm animals and food and that’s what we specialize in. This is a celebration of Powassan farming.”

Since Powassan relies heavily on farming and agriculture, Hogan says it was a ‘no brainer’ to create a day to support its local farmers.

There are 218 farms in the Nipissing region which have created over 720 jobs. Farming has also created a 12 per cent increase in jobs from 2012-2019.

Over at Foxfire Heritage Farm, owner Matthew Larivee is showing the eager crowd how to blacksmith. His animals are on display, as well as his produce.

“There are a lot smaller, independent farmers that are doing their own thing. It’s given these farmers an opportunity to sell their product to the customer and skip some of the stores that would be closed by COVID-19,” he explained.

According to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, agriculture in Nipissing generates $12.3 million in farm cash receipts (FCR) contributing to $40 million GDP.