October 24, 2016
A week of filming can be grueling. Up before dawn, film all day, finish after the sun goes down, sleep a little and do it again the next day. By the middle of a filming week the crew and I are exhausted. Day three of filming on an early fall Iowa trip was no different, that is, until we pulled into Enchanted Acres. Just pulling into the drive through the intricate gate and under the Enchanted Acres sign felt slightly magical. Up the drive we pulled through piles and piles of bright orange, green, white and even blue pumpkins, to the pristine red barn.
Walking up to the barn I was greeted by a few cute and friendly barn kitties and the bleating of a small group of goats off in the distance. Inside the barn and store I found FarmHer Shannon Latham bustling around, getting ready for the bus of local kids that was on it’s way to the pumpkin patch. I followed with my camera as Shannon quickly went out and fed the rabbit and goats, all of which stemmed from 4-H projects that her daughter had, and which are now the delightful residents of Enchanted Acres. After feeding the hungry herd, Shannon and her dad loaded up some bales of hay into the utility vehicle and drove it over to what was left of the pumpkin patch in preparation of reading a book to the kids.
As the bus pulled up, Shannon and her parents, who work daily at the patch to help their daughter’s dream be a reality, finished their final preparations. Before you could say BOO, the kids poured off the bus, buzzing with excitement over their visit to Enchanted Acres. Shannon and her parents quickly split the group into three separate areas, with each one of them staffing that area. Shannon read a book about the growing stages of a pumpkin to the kids. Part of her dream of running a pumpkin patch isn’t just seeing the excitement of the kids in being at the patch, but she also aims to connect them with agriculture through their experience there. She starts by reading to them about how a pumpkin grows. From there, she shows them the growing fruit. This season has been a tough one for the farm, with lots of moisture which doesn’t suit the pumpkins well. Shannon and her parents were forced to harvest most of the fruit from the vines before Enchanted Acres opened for the season. After Shannon read the book and showed the kids how they grow, she took them to the pallets of beautiful round and colorful pumpkins to show them the final product. From there the kids went into the barn to try the “Pumpkin Pie in a Bag” that Shannon’s mom, Shirley, had made. It gave the kids a chance to see what could be made from the fruit. There they also got to make a fun little pumpkin face craft.
The final stop was to see the goats, rabbits and fowl residents of the farm at a station that was headed up by Jim, Shannon’s dad.
It was not only fun, but I would say downright magical to experience the sheer joy and excitement of the kid’s trip to the farm. Many of them hadn’t been to a farm before, petted a goat, seen a chicken up close, or even tried pumpkin. But on that enchanted day, they got to experience all of it. Through Shannon’s creation and hard work at her farm she is passing a little bit of her huge love of agriculture on to the next generation. To top it off, like whipped cream on a piece of pumpkin pie, she gets to share her journey in spreading the love of agriculture with her family, in the joyful world of Enchanted Acres.
Hear the advice Shannon shared for young women in agriculture here.
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