It began over 50 years ago, with a milk carton in an elementary school lunchroom.
Ronnie Allen’s teacher at the old Greensville Elementary School building had asked her class to bring their empty milk cartons from lunch to the classroom. There, she gave each student some dirt and a pumpkin seed to plant inside. Ronnie, who was 6 at the time, took his carton home, where his father helped him transfer the seed into some soil in the ground. Ronnie says he was one of the only students who brought a fully-grown pumpkin back to class, and he never looked back.
Today, Allen, now 61 years old, runs one of Greensville County’s most visited fall destinations – Allen’s Pumpkin Farm.
Every year, the farm is a popular destination for families, especially those with children. Aside from offering a wide variety of pumpkins to choose from, Allen’s is also home to a small barnyard, featuring goats, pigs, chickens and a donkey.
Times have been hard, though, Ronnie said. A heightened hurricane season and increased rainfall have made this harvest season more laborious than usual. Instead of loading pumpkins directly into their trucks, Ronnie and others have to take dozens of trips back and forth into the fields with wheelbarrows.
However, Ronnie said the new harvest routine has allowed for a more regular update of the pumpkins available to customers. The smaller harvests allow Ronnie and others to bring in new selections more often than in previous years. And on top of Mother Nature’s problems, the COVID-19 pandemic has created another set of challenges for the farm.
“With this whole pandemic going on, I just didn’t know where we were going to land,” Ronnie said.
Normally, Allen’s is visited by busloads of school children that come to pick pumpkins and see the farm animals. While those trips have not been possible this season, Ronnie said that he is happy with the number of people who have chosen to visit the farm.
Ronnie’s mother, Lois Allen, 92, has been helping out as long as the business has been around. She said it brings her a lot of joy.
“I love seeing the children laughing and smiling,” Lois said. “Everyone’s happy. We just have a blast.”
Allen’s Pumpkin Farm is located at 14447 Brink Road in Emporia. They are open everyday from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.