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What's growin on

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PUMPKIN PICKING:Co-owner of Smith Farms Denise Smith rounds up small pumpkins to give away to students. Throughout the year Smith Farms allows visits from other schools for field trips.
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FALL FESTIVITIES:Currently, Smith Farms will offer the public to pick their own apples and pumpkins until Oct. 31.

By Katharine Calabro - kcalabro@ftimes.com

Ten years ago in October, Pat and Denise Smith purchased land in rural Clinton County in hopes of simplifying their lives.

The couple made the trek from New Jersey and built a home, which now includes 11 acres of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, apples, pumpkins, vegetables and more.

Although the house sits on 80 acres of land, the couple started planting and designated the current 11 acres for recreational use nine years ago.

From there, Smith Farms blossomed and continues to add different things every year for the public to enjoy through the months of May until the end of October.

“I have yet to see the simplification process,” Denise said jokingly.

With Halloween around the corner, Smith Farms offers pumpkins at 40 cents per pound. The orchard and pumpkin patch doesn’t do hayrides or bouncy houses, but Denise said less is more in this sense.

“All that for me, when I was a young mom, all that stuff makes your kids crazy, it’s just too much,” she said. “They’re not focusing on how these pumpkins and apples grow.”

Denise said sometimes family days anymore are thrown into the idea of needing to be surrounded by stuff, and this farm shows the more simple side of life.

“You just come out and enjoy the land and have a day like this,” she said.

In fact, the farm doesn’t charge for parking or admission. Families are free to roam the grounds during business hours and pick pumpkins and apples themselves.

The business continues to expand every year with new additions including a sunflower field and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes. The CSA boxes are bought in advance and come in two different size wooden boxes. Every week for 12 weeks, those who bought the boxes could come back to the farm and receive an assortment of all vegetables grown by Smith Farms.

“The idea is for people to try things they normally wouldn’t,” Denise said. “It was a ‘know your farmer’ deal.”

The sunflower field also created an attraction, bringing in the public and photographers every week. Visitors could also buy two different bucket sizes and from there they could cut and fill their own.

Although not still in season, Denise said these are all things coming back next year because it was so well received.

The couple aren’t the only entrepreneurs in their family. In fact, their three daughters all have their own businesses.

Daughter and Veterinary Physician Katherine Smith said watching her parent grow and develop their small business was inspiring and rewarding.

“They taught us that lesson if you work hard enough at something you really love, you can see the success of that and have it turn into a career or opportunity,” she said.

Their other daughter, Sandy Smith, who is a certified personal trainer, also said watching her parents implement the vision they had served as motivation.

“Being involved with it daily you don’t notice it as much, but stepping back and realizing we only moved here 10 years ago... it’s come a long way in a short period of time,” she said.

Currently, Smith Farms is open Thursday through Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and on Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information on services and other opportunities, visit Smith Farm’s website.