Knox Pumpkin Farm hopes to make agricultural education fun

Ken Knox poses for a photo on Knox Pumpkin Farm. Photo credit: Meagan Secord

“She started it by selling, in a little wagon, pumpkins at the end of the laneway,” says Ken Knox, a second-generation farmer at Knox Pumpkin Farm, describing his mother.

The now fourth-generation family farm was started by Jean Knox, Ken’s mother, in 1982. The farm began growing pumpkins for the Stokely Van Camp canning factory then grew into what it is today.

“It’s focused on education…more and more town kids don’t understand agriculture,” says Knox. “The bigger the town gets the harder it is for kids to get exposed to (farms).”

Knox teaches families about livestock, crop rotation, pollination and pumpkins.

Paula Davis, a kindergarten teacher at Monsignor Leo Clearly says, “It’s always important for them (kids) to get out and experience things first hand.”

When Davis’ class went to the farm on a school trip, they were guided around by an employee and taught about agriculture in a classroom set up near a corn maze.

Davis says it’s important for the kids to touch things and see things with their own eyes. “Because talking about it only goes so far.”

According to Knox, most of the Knox family has worked in the educational sector at some point in time, which is why teaching is so important to them.

The learning isn’t just for people outside of the farm either. “Every year we learn to grow pumpkins because every year is different,” says Knox.

In fact, the Knox family and all of the employees have already started preparations for next years’ crop of pumpkins.

According to Knox, they pick the next field two years in advance and use the manure from their livestock operation to fertilize the soil.

Along with providing education in the agricultural sector, Knox Pumpkin Farm also provides visitors with a history lesson.

The original land was purchased by the Knox family in 1946 to be a dairy farm, and then grew again in 1978 when they bought more land off a neighbour. In 2015 they gained another 20 acres, but recently lost ten to the 407 highway development.

The Knox Pumpkin Farm occupies over 300 acres of land in the Durham Region Greenbelt. Which means, both the farm and the surrounding land cannot be developed in the future.

From dairy to pumpkins, the Knox Pumpkin Farm has a long history in the agricultural community.

Knox says his mother started selling pumpkins in a wagon because she didn’t want the nice looking ones to be wasted as pie filling. “My mother would say ‘that’s too good to be a pie, that should be somebody’s pumpkin.”

After she started selling pumpkins at the end of the road, he says, “then we needed a bigger wagon, and every year we need a bigger wagon.”