A Pumpkin Patch Full Of Family Fun

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - October 12, 2011
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Dominic, Shawn and Sierra Kadooka have already welcomed hundreds of families to the pupmpkin patch on their Waimanalo Country Farm. Jo McGarry photo

When farmers Shawn and Dominic Kadooka decided to grow pumpkins as a method of diversifying their farming practice, they had no idea that they’d find almost instant success both with their crop and within their Waimanalo community.

“We were fighting a lot of obstacles,” says Dominic in the matter-of-fact manner most farmers adopt to survive. “Between the weather, wild animals eating the crops and thieves, we wanted to find a way to be a bit more proactive.”

They hit on the idea of a pumpkin patch to complement the corn they grow year-round.

Last year, they nervously opened the gates to the public to see what would happen and were amazed at the results.

“It was as if the community had just been waiting for this to happen,” says Dominic. Word-of-mouth reaction to a day on the farm has spread like a forest fire, and this year’s pumpkin patch is open both Saturdays and Sundays to cope with demand.

“It has skyrocketed,” says Shawn, who reports that the first weekend this year brought hundreds of families within the first few hours.

School tours are already sold out, and recent visitors to the Kadooka’s farm have even requested birthday parties, complete with donkey, hayrides and freshly popped corn. There’s even a Halloween nighttime event planned if you want to send them off into a spooky outdoor maze.

And don’t worry about taking lunch when you make the trek to Waimanalo. You’ll be greeted with plenty of homemade food.

“We’ve created old-fashioned farm stands where people can buy cornbread, corn chowder, fresh-picked corn and popcorn,” says Shawn, who is re-creating old family recipes and baking everything from scratch.

The Kadookas started farming in Waimanalo in the 1940s, and for years Shawn’s great-grandfather and uncles grew a variety of crops including melons, cabbages and tomatoes. The family decided to switch to corn as a main crop in 1970 and now grows a popular sweet variety.

With picnic tables under a giant tarp, a lemonade stand, a petting zoo, hayrides and even a homemade shooting range where kids of all ages can enjoy taking a shot at pumpkins perched on hay bales, there’s a rustic feel and an old-fashioned appeal to everything on this working farm.

For Dominic, part of the pleasure in the pumpkin patch is seeing neighbors who never knew they were there.

“There are people who’ve lived in front of us for 60 years,” he says, “and they’ve never been back here. We’re really happy to welcome everyone to our farm.”

With views of the Koolaus above and the ocean below, that itself might be reason enough to go although I’ve a feeling that shooting at giant pumpkins and riding on a tractor might come a close second.

“It’s just a real fun day on the farm,” says Shawn. “People don’t really get to come out and see how food is grown nowadays, and kids don’t get enough opportunity to be outside and get dirty. It’s all good for the family.”

More information at waimanalocountryfarms.com or call Shawn at 306-4381.

Happy pumpkin picking!

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