This fall, pick your own pumpkin from a local farm instead of opting for a grocery store version. It will give you an opportunity to get outdoors, connect with nature and support local family farms.
If you're looking for more than just a pumpkin, you're in luck. Many of these farms have on-site markets that sell local honey, eggs, meats and more. Some even have Community Supported Agriculture groups (CSA's), which allow you to pay the farmer upfront for a share of the upcoming harvest.
Here's six options near Baltimore:
1. Baugher's Orchards and Farm, Westminster: Most authentic harvest experience
1015 Baugher Road
Westminster, Md. 21158
When it comes to pumpkin-picking, Baugher's is a Baltimore icon. The family farm has been offering pick-your-own since the 1970s and now boasts over 200 acres to "let customers experience the harvest of the land," according to the farm's website.
2. Clark's Elioak Farm, Ellicott City: Best for small, imaginative children
10500 Clarksville Pike
Ellicott City, Md. 21042
Clark's has been dubbed "Maryland's Storybook Park" both in a recent book and in the imaginations of hundreds of children growing up near Ellicott City. True, there's a castle at the entrance and even a quirky storybook maze, but there's also kid-sized pumpkins ready to be picked for just $2.75 each. Be sure to ask where you can find products from the family's seventh generation farm, including grass-fed beef, free range chicken and eggs and pasture-raised lamb.
3. Weber's Cider Mill Farm, Glen Arm: Best for an apple picking side trip
11409 Harford Road
Glen Arm Md. 21057
Weber’s Cider Mill farm is the oldest cider mill in continuous use in Maryland. While they are most known in the area for their apples, their pick-your-own options include all kinds of produce, including pumpkins. But be sure to call ahead to make sure Weber's is offering a pick-your-own option for that weekend.
4. Larriland Farm, Woodbine: Best variety of other pick-your-own produce
2415 Woodbine Road
Woodbine, Md. 21797
Larriland offers pick-your-own produce for apples, spinach, and other crops depending on the day and season. They update their inventory daily on their website, so you don't have to guess.
Like many other farms on this list, Larriland relies on pesticides only as a last resort and cares for their crops with a system known as "Integrated Pest Management" or IPM. IPM consists of monitoring crops for harmful pests, and taking physical (rather than chemical) actions such as rotating the crops or plowing in order to reduce pest harm.
5. Brad's Produce, Churchville: Best hayride
550 Asbury Road
Churchville, Md. 21028
If you're looking for an adventurous pick-your-own pumpkin experience, consider Brad's Produce. Upon arrival, you'll take a hayride to the pumpkin patch, a ride that Brad's boasts is "the bumpiest hayride in Harford County." Brad's uses sustainable agriculture methods, including IPM (Integrated Pest Management) on all crops.
This family farm has been around since 1951. Take a hayride to the patch, grab a pumpkin and return to the market to meet a family of pygmy goats! The Buppert's manage their crops using IPM and other sustainable agriculture methods that prevent soil from running off into waterways. Be sure to check out their market for local honey, eggs, jams, granola and more Maryland-made goodies.