Six years ago, one reality television show animated an idea into the minds of two brothers. Mark and Luke Foshee were watching the TLC program “Little People, Big World,” when they saw the Roloff family’s pumpkin patch and immediately knew they wanted to create their own version. After a year of preparation, the Foshees opened the Farmer in the Dell Pumpkin Patch.
Mark Foshee, Auburn University graduate, said they started the pumpkin patch as a way to get through college. “We weren’t trying to get rich off of it, we wanted to start small because our hope was that 20 years from now we would be big,” said Foshee.
“I’ve loved the experience because we’re making memories as a family,” said a beaming Marie Foshee. This member of the Foshee family wears many different hats around the pumpkin patch. She is not only the mother of the founders, but also the school group tour organizer, and most importantly to animal lovers: owner of the goat.
Charlie the goat is a recent addition to the pumpkin patch. Marie Foshee said he has been a real crowd pleaser.
Jordan Kelly, current Auburn student, is perhaps Charlie’s biggest fan. “I think he’s really cute,” professed Kelly. “We got to be pretty good friends after I fed him.”
Another aspect that sets Farmer in the Dell Pumpkin Patch apart from contenders is that everything they sell is homegrown. This may seem like a given for a farm, but according to Mark Foshee, most pumpkin patches don’t grow their own products. Other farms actually buy pumpkins and then lay them out in the field. But at Farmer in the Dell Pumpkin Patch, people cut live pumpkins off the stems.
Foshee says that the reason that other farms import their pumpkins is because pumpkins aren’t supposed to grow this far south. Auburn’s humidity is typically too severe for them.
“But we thought we could do it, so we pressed on,” said Foshee. “Being able to beat the odds and tell people, ‘You can do it,’ - that’s what I love.”
Visitors come from Columbus, Montgomery and even Atlanta for the pick-your-own-pumpkin experience.
Last year, one local enthusiast came out the first day to claim the biggest pumpkin, said Foshee. After checking in on the pumpkin multiple times and taking pictures to document the growth, the customer decided it was time to pick the pumpkin.
“She picked it up and then turned around to get another pumpkin and tripped and landed right on that one pumpkin that she had been waiting for, and she smooshed it,” explained Foshee. “She had pumpkin guts all over her butt. It was funny for us, but traumatic for her,” Foshee said with a good-natured smirk.
Whether they return for the classic hayrides, budding mums in every color, or simply to see the smiling faces of the Foshee family, few are one-time visitors. The Foshees love welcoming the same families back year after year, especially the kids. “You wouldn’t think they would get so tall, but they’re really tall!” Mark Foshee exclaimed. “From seeing them in a stroller to walking and running around, the kids are the best part.”
While plans for the future are taken one step at a time, Mark Foshee knows one thing he wants. “My goal is to retire into the pumpkin business,” said Foshee as he chocked back a chuckle. “We’ll see how it goes.”