Starting in October, carved pumpkins peer out from porches and doorsteps all across Scarsdale and other parts of the world. Gourd-like orange fruits inscribed with ghoulish faces and illuminated by candles are a sure sign of the Halloween season. The practice of decorating jack-o’-lanterns (the name comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack) originated in Ireland, where large turnips and potatoes served as an early canvas. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to the US, home of the pumpkin, and the lowly pumpkin became an integral part of Halloween festivities. In Colonial times, women sliced off pumpkin tips, removed the seeds and filled the inside with milk, spices and honey. This was baked in hot ashes and is the origin of pumpkin pie. While you can certainly go to Stew’s and get a pumpkin there, there is something to be said for piling the kids in the car, going out to a pumpkin patch and getting one straight off the vine. While there are great pumpkin patches in Westchester think about taking the family to Long Island, where in about three hours you can pick some pumpkins (and visit a vineyard) and picnic on the beach if the weather is good. Last, one of Long Island’s hidden secrets is its lavender fields. I’ve included information on one worth visiting if you’re out East.
Elwood Pumpkin Farm
1500 E Jericho Turnpike, Huntington
Pick your own pumpkins on the vine; hay rides; small corn maze. This working farm is the closest pumpkin field to New York City.
Finks Country Farm
6242 Middle Country Rd, Wading River
Pumpkin patch; corn maze; pumpkin catapult; pig races, calf roping, corn box (like a sandbox but with corn).
This 13-generation family farm and apple orchard offers a huge variety of really interesting pumpkins for sale at their farm stand, including bumpy green ones and ghostly white ones. Pumpkins range in size from half pound to 150 pounds.
Hank's Pumpkintown with a side trip to Duckwalk Vineyards
240 Montauk Highway,
On-the-vine pumpkins; corn maze park; hay rides, calf roping, cow milking, giant maze mountain slide, pedal cart race track, corn table, corn swing. Located very close to Duckwalk Vineyards (http://duckwalk.com; http://www.yelp.com/biz/duck-walk-vineyards-southold#query:duckwalk%20vineyard), which is worth a stop.
Stakeys Pumpkin Farm
270 West Lane, Aquebogue (631) 722-3467
Stakeys is a fun and friendly destination for over 18 different varieties of pumpkins that you can pick off the vine. If you are strong and have long arms you can pay $25 for all the pumpkins you can carry.
Lavender By The Bay
7540 Main Rd, East Marion (631) 477-1019
Located in East Marion, Lavender By The Bay is New York’s premier lavender farm and one of the largest in the US. Lavender By The Bay offers seasonal fresh cut bunches, dried lavender, lavender plants, lavender sachets, honey from its own beehives and other crafts.
Stuart's Fruit Farm
62 Granite Springs Road, Granite Springs (914) 245-2784
The pumpkins here are actually on the vine, not trucked in from elsewhere and dumped on the ground. This authentic, family-run farm also offers apple picking.
Wilkens Fruit and Fir Farm
1335 White Hill Road, Yorktown Heights (914) 245-5111
Apple picking, as well as a good-sized pumpkin patch. The grounds are a bit hilly, so free hayrides are offered. Be warned: this place gets very crowded!
The Orchards of Concklin
2 South Mountain Road, Pomona (845) 354-0369
You can pick your own pumpkins at this 300-year old apple orchard on the weekends of October 13-14 and 20-21. Additional attractions include a bouncy haunted house, an inflatable slide, delicious cider doughnuts and fresh apple cider.