Where Our Pumpkin Village Began
The internationally acclaimed Pumpkin Village is the highlight of Autumn at the Arboretum, our fall festival at the Dallas Arboretum. Presented by Rogers-O’Brien Construction, it opens to the public on September 22, the culmination of thousands of hours of work and love. The 90,000 pumpkins, squash and gourds that make up the Pumpkin Village go on quite the journey before they even arrive at the Dallas Arboretum, to be meticulously sculpted into the fantastical scenes that will transport you to an “Adventure in Neverland”.
We took that same journey ourselves last week, and headed straight to the source.
Where Did We Go?
Head 330 miles, basically straight west, and you’ll reach the part of Texas where farmland stretches from horizon to horizon and beyond, in every direction. It’s a long trip to reach the land where pumpkin dreams come true, and since the Arboretum team hadn’t made the trek in a few years, we knew it was time to get back out there, shake hands with the Pyle Family, run our fingers through the dirt, and see pumpkins, heavy on the vine.
The Pyle family has run Pumpkin Pyle farm since 1991, although pumpkins are only one of a few different crops they produce year round. They also grow corn, squash, cotton and other crops based on the season.
When we went out to one of their pumpkin fields, there truly were pumpkins as far as the eye could see. It was just big sky country, and green pumpkin vines.
We did some quick math with Matthew Rainwater, and they estimate they send out 1,000,000 pumpkins every year. Of the “about a million pumpkins,” roughly 90,000 make their way to the Dallas Arboretum for Autumn at the Arboretum.
What the Pyles Had to Do to Grow These Pumpkins Before We Even Got There
The Pyle family pumpkins are grown in 50-acre plots, and the pumpkin, squash and gourd seeds are planted in mid-July. Drip irrigation provides consistent watering regardless of the weather, and they’re ready to be picked from the vines at the end of August (right when we visited the Pyle farm).
When we got there, teams of a few pickers were out in the fields, picking each pumpkin by hand and throwing them to a co-worker, riding in a re-purposed school bus! The boxes then go to a warehouse, where dozens of fork-lift operators drive and move pallets of pumpkins around with the speed and efficiency of seasoned pros.
Pumpkins eventually make their way to the processing facility, where every single one, regardless of size and variety, is inspected by hand, sorted into the good and the not-good, and wiped clean. We saw this happening, the last step before the pumpkins are loaded into the trucks to make the trip back to Dallas.
What’s Next for the Pumpkins?
The pumpkins start arriving TOMORROW, September 11 and will all be here by mid-morning on September 14.
The horticulture team will work quickly to fit them into our custom pumpkin house frames and create the mystical Neverland-themed Pecan Grove featuring the Darling House, Tinker Bell’s House, The Lost Boys Hideout, and a mermaid and alligator topiary.
Autumn at the Arboretum opens September 22. See ya’ll in the Pecan Grove!