A true taste of fall

Sara Macho

Area farms offer seasonal activities, home-grown treats

Eric, Paelyn and 6-year-old Catherine Fortney sit with other families on a hayride at May’s Farm in Randolph. The farm holds a fall festival every year on fall weekends where visitors can pick pumpkins, go on hayrides and explore cornfield mazes. PHOTO CO

Credit: John Proppe

Tables of freshly picked apples and fall squashes. Carts of bright orange pumpkins. Rows of richly colored corn stalks, straw bales and festive Indian corn.

This fall season, ditch the dented pumpkins and artificially flavored apple cider found at most grocery stores — go for the homegrown stuff instead.

Area farms, located just minutes past Kent on and off state Route 43, are bursting at the seams with special holiday goodies and seasonal events aimed to impress any fall enthusiast.

Not only do these family-run businesses grow an extensive collection of fall favorites like pumpkins, apples, sweet corn, squashes and gourds, but they also feature youth-inspired activities like winding cornfield mazes and pumpkin patch hayrides. Rather than stopping at a less-than-personable grocery store and buying a so-so pumpkin, travel to a farm to capture a down-home vibe and feel-good holiday happenings.

Rufener Hilltop Farms

Husband and wife, Alvin and Lana Rufener, teamed up to open this family-oriented farm in 1990, and it is definitely the place to go to recapture your youth. Here visitors can participate in activities ranging from a five-acre-long cornfield maze to a bumpy hayride destined for the pumpkin patches. After reaching the patch, individuals can pick their own pumpkins. Participants can even go for a “swim” in an above ground pool filled to the brim with corn seeds.

Don’t leave without a homemade treat, including cookies, pies, assorted candies, jams and just about any apple product known to man.

Rufener Hilltop Farms employee Becki Wills works as a cashier and plants and harvests crops. She has been working at the farm for five years. Wills said she most enjoys visiting with frequent customers and watching people enjoy the activities.

The farm is also an ideal place to go to experience things not usually seen in city limits, said horticulturist April Klimczak.

“A lot of people come out here just to see the farm life,” she said. “It’s not every day that you can walk through a cornfield maze or see a pumpkin patch.”

Dussel Farm

This picturesque farm, which has been in operation for 55 years, is set on a hill overlooking dozens of rows of orange pumpkins ready to be picked.

Though the fall farm activities are geared mostly toward families with young children, students can still enjoy the quality products Dussel Farm has to offer.

Set up on more than 20 tables enclosed on the outskirts of the cornfields are various seasonal products including gourds, straw bales, corn stalks, Indian corn, soybean wax candles, apples, local honey and kettle corn.

Linda Dussel, co-owner of Dussel Farm, said the farm offers an atmosphere quite different than that of a grocery store.

“You’re out in the fresh air, as opposed to being in a grocery store where the selection is limited and people are just there doing their own thing.”

Contact features reporter Sara Macho at [email protected].


• According to Becki Wills, Rufener Hilltop Farms is located at 1022 State Route 43 in Suffield and is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit the Web site at www.rufeners.com or call the Rufeners at (330) 628-1082.

• According to Linda Dussel, the farm is located at 1109 Old Forge Road in Brimfield, and is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to dusk. For more information, reach Dussel Farm at (330) 673-5957 or at www.dusselfarms.com.