The kids are back in school, the leaves are turning brown and that summer heatwave is an increasingly distant memory.
It can only mean one thing: pumpkin season is nearly upon us.
Fortunately for us in Altrincham, we have one of the largest and most popular pumpkin-picking events on our doorstep.
The Dunham Pumpkin Patch, located on Boundary Farm in Dunham Massey (behind the Rope and Anchor pub), will be open on weekends throughout October with picking slots available to book online.
The Hewitt family planted an extraordinary 30,000 pumpkin plants back in May – almost double last year’s tally – with the seeds starting life in polythene tunnels inside the walled kitchen gardens of Dunham Hall.
There are around 10 varieties this year, including traditional orange pumpkins, gourds and knobbly pumpkins as well as last year’s popular ‘Ghost Rider’ pumpkins.
They were then transported to the farm in early June to be planted and have been growing since.
According to Jonny Hewitt, who has been part of the family business for over 20 years, our relatively hot and dry summer will not have been a problem. “They actually thrive hugely on the heat,” Jonny told us. “The field is looking very lush and green and ideal for growing.”
This year will be even more of a family affair than ever for the Hewitts, who have worked the land at Boundary Farm for almost a century.
Jonny’s dad Alan, now 79, is the patriarch of the farm and still an ever-present, while older brother Chris runs The Apple Barn on Sawpit Street, a retail outlet and cafe selling their award-winning cider and apple juice, including Dunham Dabbler.
Jonny’s 15-year-old son Monty – who now towers over his father – will be helping out again this year, as will daughter Erin, 11, and Chris’s 10-year-old daughter, Isabelle.
Once again, there will be refreshments and fresh wood-fired pizzas from Little Red Pizza Company, as well as toilet facilities at the Apple Bar and ample car parking.
This year, there will for the first time be a wagon train giving rides around the farm and tours of the apple orchards.
Jonny said they had kept prices the same this year – £5 per car, plus booking fee – and also retained the online booking system that had worked well during Covid.
“It works because people know that they can come at a time that they want and it’s not going to be crazy busy,” he said.
The Hewitts will start cutting the pumpkins in September and open the farm to visitors on October 1/2, 8/9, 15/16 and then the half-term week of October 22-30.
You can buy tickets to Pumpkin Picking at Dunham here. There’ll also be regular updates on Instagram and Facebook at @DunhamPumpkinPatch.
Photography: Laura Marie Linck