Valley Bounty: Sapowsky Farm
Right off Route 202 in Granby sits Sapowsky Farm, a second-generation family-run farm growing between 50 and 80 acres of vegetables, depending on the year. While they are most well-known for their sweet corn, strawberries, and tomatoes, they also grow a variety of fall crops including winter squash, pumpkins, cabbage, gourds, corn stalks, straw, and peppers.
Sapowsky Farm was founded in 1947 on about 40 acres of land. Current owners Tammy and Stephen took over operations from Stephen’s parents in 1984 and have kept growing a lot of the farm’s original specialties, including potatoes, sweet corn, and strawberries, along with new crops, including four acres of pumpkins.
The pumpkins are planted by seed in June. As they begin to grow, Sapowsky will cultivate the plants, meaning he will push soil up against the base of the plant, which helps suppress weed growth by burying smaller weeds growing at the base of the pumpkins. Additionally, the pumpkin plants form a canopy of leaves that help kill off weeds by blocking sunlight. “Weeds are the biggest threat to getting a good yield for us, because they steal nutrients from the soil and can really keep the pumpkin plants from thriving,” explains Sapowsky.
As with all field crops, the weather also plays a big role in the success of the pumpkins. To avoid having to irrigate, the Sapowskys plant their pumpkins on “heavy” land, land that is naturally more wet, and better able to retain water. The risk here is that in extremely wet years, too much water can drown the seedlings or lead to disease. With hardly any rain this year, the gamble paid off, and the Sapowskys were glad to have their pumpkins on heavy land.
As with most vine crops, the biggest pest facing the pumpkins are deer. Deer will eat the leaves off the pumpkin plants through the summer, as well as the fruit in the fall. “We’ll certainly scare the deer off if we see them, but my general rule has always been to just plant extra so there is enough to go around,” Sapowsky says with a laugh.
Harvesting begins in early September. The pumpkin stems are cut from the vine, and the pumpkins are placed in rows. From there, they are picked up in large bins and brought back to the farm on a forklift, or low bed trailer.
All of Sapowsky Farm’s products are sold at their farm stand, located at 436 East State Street, Route 202 in Granby. They will be closing for the season on November 1st.
To find other local farms open near you, please visit buylocalfood.org/farmguide.
Emma Gwyther is the development associate at Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture