Summer officially transitions into fall when you see people requesting their favorite things about the fall season, pumpkin spice lattes, comfort foods, and holiday cookies. At The Country Pumpkin, a produce store near Sutton, the spotlight is on gourds, squash and pumpkins.
“Gourds are technically fruits because they are part of the flowering plants that contain the seeds—like grapes or melons, they’re the fruit that grows on a vine,” farmer and Clay County Farm Bureau member Brett Nunnenkamp said. Brett is the owner of The Country Pumpkin where he grows more over 50 varieties of pumpkins, squash, gourds, and ornamental corn including many heirloom types. He started growing pumpkins at age 13.
“Some gourds have hard shells that turn a brownish-tan as they age; others come in a variety of deep greens, burnt oranges, and goldenrod yellows. Some are lopsided and riddled with bumps; others are elongated and smooth. So, a collection of different types of gourds can add a festive element to centerpieces, and mantle displays in any home,” Brett said.
Pumpkins fall under the squash umbrella, and they’re multifunctional—ornamental and edible. Many people associate pumpkins with jack-o-lanterns or use them as decorations on our front stoop or deck. You can get the traditional orange pumpkins, but there’s more to pumpkins than what meets the eye. Pumpkins come in a variety of shapes, colors, sizes, and textures and serve a multitude of different purposes.
“We sell the traditional orange pumpkins, but there is the Porcelain Doll, which appears as a unique pink color with deep ribs. The Valenciano, which is a white pumpkin that tends to keep their ghostly white appearance. A Cinderella pumpkin which gets its name after the carriage of the fairy-tale princess. This French heirloom has a flat appearance and is a scarlet orange. Or the Knucklehead, which gets its name from its naturally warty skin. The fruit is orange, but warts are green. We also raise Jarradale pumpkins which are the color blue,” Brett said. Large and small, you’ll see a wide variety at their store in Sutton.
“Besides selling pumpkins and gourds, we also sell pumpkin themed food such as pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin bars, pumpkin ice cream or pumpkin-flavored goods like candles,” he said.
All of the pumpkins, squash, gourds and other ornamentals are hand-picked and washed at the Country Pumpkin. Gourds have been used in numerous ways throughout history—for thousands of years—as tools, drinking and eating vessels, musical instruments, and birdhouses. When dried, gourd skin hardens into a wood-like texture, you can keep it year-round, he said.
As we enter into the Christmas season pumpkins and gourds can also be used to decorate as Santa’s, Christmas trees or snowmen. Gourds and pumpkins are versatile throughout thanksgiving and Christmas.
Brett Nunnenkamp was raised near Sutton on a traditional family farm where they grow corn and soybeans and raise livestock. He wanted to come back to the farm after college at the University of Nebraska, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture in 2006, he opened the Country Pumpkin and makes his home on the farm near Sutton. For more information go to www.thecountrypumpkin.com