Carlsbad Pumpkin Patch is Open for the Season

A photo station sits next to the exit of the corn maze. The pumpkin patch has various photo opportunities for visitors to take fall photos. (Photo by Tiffany Leyva)

Pumpkin season is looking quite different for the Carlsbad Strawberry Company this year. From entrance temperature checks, to signs encouraging social distancing and even hourly spray downs with Clorox and water; the company is doing all they can to stay proactive during the pandemic. 

The Carlsbad Strawberry Company is an agriculture company run by four generations of Ukegawas. Its current owner, Jimmy Ukegawa, has lived in Carlsbad for over 60 years. The company is best known for the U-Pick Strawberry season where visitors go into the strawberry fields and fill a bucket full of strawberries.

From Sep. 18 – Nov. 8, the Strawberry field transitions to become the Carlsbad Pumpkin patch. Visitors can experience fall activities such as pumpkin picking, tractor rides, apple cannons, corn mazes, and on weekends a haunted corn maze. The patch also hosts bounce houses and food trucks. 

To accommodate San Diego County COVID-19 guidelines, the company has tripled its pumpkin patch size to 20 acres, added 15 hand sanitizer stations, and doubled its labor and space in order to clean diligently.

“My wife is a labor and delivery nurse and she felt this virus was airborne early on,” Ukegawa said. “So, we social distanced our workers during the strawberry season way before… the rest of the agricultural community in the state was told to. ” 

As a result, they started to social distance their workers by 20 feet as well as asking their workers to wear gloves and masks in January. 

Senior Nate Langford recently visited the pumpkin patch with his girlfriend and felt safe with the protocols in place. 

“[The employees] were cleaning everything nicely and all the seats and stuff were spread apart,” Langford said. “No one was really next to each other.”

Large pumpkins are ready to be taken home at the pumpkin patch. The Carlsbad Strawberry company had mask reminders all over the property urging visitors to continue to social distance. (Photo by Tiffany Leyva)

Beyond their usual partnership with the Agua Hedionda foundation for their Haunted Corn Maze, the Carlsbad Strawberry Company expanded its community outreach to people most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company feeds 750 families on a weekly basis and will deliver fresh produce anywhere in North County for free.  

“People don’t realize that we have gifted over 150,000 lbs of food into this community since March,” said Ukegawa. “We are feeding needy people, feeding seniors, and food-insecure people…We put it all together and make really nutritious fresh fruit, vegetables, and milk [boxes] and deliver it to those in need.”

A sign describing what the Carlsbad COVID Food project is and its impact on North County. Since March of 2020, the Carlsbad Strawberry Company has been donated and delivered over 125,000 lbs of locally grown fresh produce to the most vulnerable populations to the virus. (Photo by Tiffany Leyva)

The Carlsbad Strawberry Company additionally works hard to support fellow small businesses that have lost profits due to the pandemic. 

“We have always hosted wholesale produce at our warehouse but what we [opened] in March…  was an outdoor market, kinda like a farmers market,” said Ukegawa. “We bring in wholesale produce from all over. Anything fresh and good and try to keep it as… local as possible.”

At their warehouse on Aviara Pkwy, shoppers can find anything from Hollandia Dairy to pie crusts and even gelato. 

The Carlsbad strawberry company places a great deal of pride in their work and it shows. The pumpkin patch will be open until Nov. 8. General admission includes access to the pumpkin patch and open space. It starts at $5 per person and all other activities are an additional cost. 

Happy pumpkin picking.