RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Pumpkin Growers Association presented Governor Ralph S. Northam and First Lady Pamela Northam with Virginia Grown pumpkins to decorate Virginia’s Executive Mansion for the fall season. The pumpkins were grown and delivered by William Fannon of Hickory Flats Pumpkin Patch in Pennington Gap, Virginia. Following the presentation, Governor Northam presented Mr. Fannon and his family with a proclamation proclaiming October as Virginia Pumpkin Month. The proclamation acknowledges the work of the nearly 400 pumpkin growers who cultivate and harvest pumpkins in the Commonwealth and to recognize the value of pumpkins to the state’s economy.
“Over the past few years, we have seen growth in Virginia’s pumpkin industry with the number of pumpkin growers in the Commonwealth doubling since 2018 from 200 growers to almost 400 today. Pumpkins provide an additional income stream for many of Virginia agricultural producers and helps to support the agriculture industry overall”, said Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “I encourage all Virginians to explore the many agritourism opportunities across the Commonwealth and celebrate fall with a Virginia-grown pumpkin.”
Pumpkins are grown across the Commonwealth with most of the state’s commercial pumpkin production occurring in Southwest Virginia, as farmers have taken advantage of higher elevations and cooler temperatures to produce a high-value crop that consumers enjoy. In 2020, Virginia pumpkin farmers planted 5,500 acres of pumpkins and harvested 5,400 acres that were valued at $17.6 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. These figures include Virginia’s wholesale growers, as well as any pick-your-own pumpkin farms that sell directly to consumers. Virginia ranked fourth nationally last year in pumpkin production at 972,000 hundredweight.
“Virginia farmers grow a variety of pumpkins in just about every size, shape and color. Consumers will find gourds are perfect for decorating, carving, or eating. I encourage all Virginians to plan a visit to a pick-your-own pumpkin farm for a memorable family-friendly, outdoor experience,” said Brad Copenhaver, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Make plans now to pick up fresh Virginia grown pumpkins as they are arriving daily at pick-your-own farms, farmers’ markets, roadside stands, grocery stores, and retailers around the state. Farmers began harvesting pumpkins around Labor Day and will continue until Halloween, making October the perfect time to visit a farm to purchase pumpkins to complete fall decorating, or to enjoy in your favorite pumpkin recipe. Search VirginiaGrown.com for a Virginia pumpkin retailer near you.
–Michael Wallace, VDACS