McCall's Pumpkin Patch: A Success in Agri-tourism
McCall Land & Cattle Company is a visible landmark along Interstate 40 in Moriarty, NM. Driving by you'll first notice the towering "goat bridge" and a variety of barns backdropped with fields of corn, oats and alfalfa. Take a closer look however and you'll find so much more!
The 320 acre McCall farm is owned and operated by Kevin and Kirsten McCall and their two children Morgan and Caleb. During most of the year the McCall farm looks like any other small family farm, but come harvest time, the place is booming with activity from the thousands of visitors they receive. In addition to growing feed crops, the McCall farm participates in agri-tourism, or the business of attracting visitors to the farm for education, entertainment, and direct marketing of crops.
The McCall farm has captured many facets of agri-tourism including:
- A 16-acre corn maze
- Hayrides to the u-pick pumpkin patch
- Petting/feeding farms animals
- A giant slide, pedal cart races, and more
- Shopping and eating
- And for the brave- a haunted corn maze, hayride, and barn
Agri-tourism allows farmers to diversify their income sources through enterprises that compliment agricultural activities, while also connecting farmers to their communities. To learn more about the McCall's successful operation, we asked Kirsten McCall a few questions:
Why did you decide to specialize in pumpkins and agri-tourism?
Kevin was growing pumpkins wholesale and in 1997 a friend of ours asked if she could bring her class out for a field trip to see us harvesting pumpkins. The following year we sent some flyers out to schools and started running field trips. It was great to see kids making a connection between the pumpkin fields and the pumpkins they saw in stores. As our numbers grew, we decided to stop wholesaling pumpkins and focus solely on the agri-tourism end of things in the fall. We still grow alfalfa, oats, and corn, but all pumpkins are now sold pick-your-own.
In addition to the pumpkin patch, you now also have the haunted farm business. When did you start this part of your business?
We did our first haunted hayride in 2005. We added a haunted corn maze in 2006 and last year we opened our haunted barn.
The pumpkin patch allowed you to quit your job as a teacher and pursue your family's business full time. Is there anything else you would like to add on the success of your farm and agri-tourism business?
Owning a farm in today's economy is very, very tough. We feel blessed that the pumpkin patch has made it possible for us to keep the farm when so many small family farms are going under. It is a very rewarding operation—there are so many families who have made McCall's Pumpkin Patch part of their fall traditions. Yet it requires an incredible amount of work. Kevin and I have dedicated our lives to growing this operation. At times, the amount of work we have to put in has been overwhelming. It has become our way of life—and we hope our efforts have benefited families and our community.
Thanks Kirsten, for taking the time to talk with us during your busiest season! Your family farm provides a great example of successful agri-tourism in New Mexico's mid-region.
The McCall Pumpkin Patch is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm, and is open on weekdays by appointment only. The Haunted Farm is open on Friday evenings from 7 to 10 pm, and Saturday evenings from 6 to 10 pm. October 31st is the last day for both the Pumpkin Patch and the Haunted Farm.