Enchanted Acres, 1071 250th St. in Sheffield, is celebrating its 10th season with a commemorative corn maze. The maze, in the shape of the farm’s Cinderella pumpkin-shaped logo, is just one of the attractions to this North Iowa pumpkin patch. It also offers hayride, campfire s’mores, pumpkin decorating, Books in the Barn story time, homemade lunches and a store filled with homemade jams and handcrafted home décor.
“Each year we strive to offer our guests something new and different to enjoy,” says Shannon Latham, who purchased an abandoned dairy farm on this site in the spring of 2012 with a vision of turning it into a magical pumpkin farm. “In year one, my parents and I began offering educational field trips to school children. We also offered pumpkin decorating workshops under a tent, so it was exciting in 2013 when our Jolly Red Barn opened. Each year we made improvements to the barn until it was finished. Today the temperature-controlled barn houses a café and a retail store downstairs and story time upstairs. We enjoy cooperating with local librarians, who offer Books in the Barn during October, which is National Book Month.”
Latham says Books in the Barn story time evolved from her love of reading. As a child, she counted down the days to her library’s story time. She wants to encourage literacy and share her love of books with others. She also is passionate about promoting ag literacy.
“I grew up caring for animals and knowing that most of the food on our table was raised either by my family or my grandparents,” says Latham. “Sadly, today many kids and even their parents don’t know where their food comes from. It’s astonishing that about 16 million people think chocolate milk comes from brown cows! Orange juice is our nation’s most popular ‘fruit,’ and French fries are among American’s most popular ‘vegetable’.”
Enchanted Acres provides experiences for the whole family to interact with agriculture. Farm guests may pick their own pumpkins from the field our choose from pre-picked and washed pumpkins displayed on pallets. They can purchase feed for goats. Special on-farm events allow guests to interact with newly hatched chicks, miniature pigs, and ponies. (Note: These events vary by year, and a Schedule of Events is published before the start of each season.) Children who participate in field trips visit three stations that include animal encounters and a walk through the pumpkin patch. They also hear a story time about pumpkins followed by a pumpkin snack, so they learn pumpkins are a fruit.
“It really takes a village to make Enchanted Acres come to life each fall. I am so grateful to my family and friends for their behind-the-scenes support. There are so many people who play an important role from designing marketing materials and helping me plan the schedule of events to making labels and stocking store shelves,” says Latham. “I can’t thank my brother enough because he spent early morning hours before his workday began, watering pumpkins during this year’s drought. He tends to whatever needs tending. My mom works harder than people half her age.”
Latham’s mom, Shirley Fesenmeyer, has been leading pumpkin decorating workshops since Enchanted Acres began. She also makes homemade jams and crafts, including seasonal wreaths, which are sold inside The Market at Enchanted Acres.
“They say time passes quickly when you’re having fun. We have certainly had a lot of fun! Like the guests who visit our little farm, my family has made so many magical memories here throughout the years. We especially enjoy seeing how much our guests grow from year to year. It’s heart-warming to be part of these families’ annual fall traditions.”