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HesperiaStar.com
  • End of line for popular Apple Valley pumpkin patch

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  • APPLE VALLEY — Giant sprinklers should be watering freshly planted pumpkins and corn as they prepare for an October appearance at Frazier's u-Pick Pumpkin patch.
    But motorists who have driven past the farm on Bear Valley Road have not seen the beginnings of a corn field or pumpkin patch. What they have noticed are acres and acres of weeds.
    “It’s a story of all good things must come to an end,” said Della Frazier, co-owner of the 20-acre farm in Apple Valley. “At the end of season, we’d look at our account and we realized that we just weren’t making it.”
    In September, Frazier predicted that if things didn’t turn around, the family would not be able to keep the farm afloat.  Unfortunately for the thousands of children, adults and families who’ve visited the farm since 1999, Frazier’s prediction came true.
    Every October, an estimated 10,000 school children took field trips to the farm to find their way through the corn maze, which was designed by Frazier’s husband, George, 81. They also gathered to listen to pumpkin-based stories and sort through nearly 25,000 pumpkins to select their own to decorate or to use in a family recipe.
    “Another High Desert tradition down the drain,” said Angelina Slater, 42, of Apple Valley. “My family would stop by twice a week to buy honey sticks, ride the ponies and soak up the atmosphere. Fall just won’t be the same without them.”
    Over the last three years, the farm has battled extreme heat, a lack of rain, unusual seed growing patterns, vandalism and theft.
    “In the last couple of years, we’ve had a few bad incidences in the corn maze,” Frazier said. “We’ve also had people fill up wheelbarrows full of pumpkins and then just leave without paying for them, or they would just come through and smash them. Things like that just added to the financial stress.”
    Frazier said Mother Nature played a trick on the family last year by producing fewer pumpkins than usual, a trick that was accompanied by cooler evenings and hotter days. A $500 monthly water bill and a sluggish economy, which resulted in lower attendance, also contributed to the farm’s woes.
    “We had to clear the house and property by Aug. 1, but I think there’s one Jack ‘O Lantern left on the fence post,” Frazier said. “The owner has rented out the house, but the property has not been leased out. The owner has been very understanding.”
    Frazier said her family moved out of the rented property and sold their giant Jack ‘O Lantern props, Witch’s Hut shed and harvest-themed props to a business near Lancaster.
    “We’ve brought our kids here at least twice a year,” said Yvette Cooper, 35, from Hesperia. “We love the corn maze, the variety of pumpkins, the train and the petting zoo. My kids are going to be sad when they hear that there’s is no more pumpkin patch.”
    Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227, RDeLa Cruz@VVDailyPress.com or on Twitter@DP_ReneDeLaCruz.
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