Folsom’s special pumpkin place

Zittel Farms starts another season of family tradition
By: Bill Sullivan, Associate Publisher
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For many, it’s a family tradition when the month of October opens each year. Jump in the car and make the trip to farm country in search of that perfect pumpkin who will ultimately inherit the first name of “Jack” before the end of the month.

Despite all of its rapid growth, increased number of national chain stores, restaurants and more continually coming into the city, Folsom still has its very own traditional pumpkin patch. Zittel Farms is family owned. It’s a local favorite and last weekend it opened its gates to another season of good old-fashioned fun for families looking to find that perfect pumpkin someplace besides the big cardboard boxes in the supermarkets.

For more than 40 years, Zittel Farms has been the go-to place for Folsom residents to find their perfect pumpkins. Whether it is for baking or decorating, the family-owned ranch, that’s located at the corner of Oak Avenue and Folsom-Auburn Road, has plenty of varieties to offer, and their hometown hospitality is free for every visitor.

Saturday, Sept. 30, Zittel Farms saw its share of visitors at the ranch. Upon arrival, visitors will find a quaint picturesque farm, complete with vintage tractors and a vocal rooster that loves to greet the guests. The ranch offers one of the largest varieties of pumpkins in the region with all shapes, sizes and several colors. In addition to offering large thick stem pumpkins, they also offer several varieties of ornamental squash.

“This is a tradition for our family. We’ve been coming here for years and love this place,” said Folsom’s Ron Lobley, a longtime customer of Zittel Farms.

With harvest season now in full swing, Zittel Farms offers hay rides to visitors who desire to enjoy a bit of country fun right here in the city. Additionally, the farm is the perfect place to take photos of little ones with plenty of old-fashioned farm gear and equipment decorating the three-acre lot.

In 1976, Roger and Gail Zittel purchased the small farm shortly after making Folsom their home. With two sons, the family went to work on what is now one of the last working farms in Folsom.

“I came from a farming background,” said Roger, who worked as the first manager of the Folsom Chamber of Commerce in 1974.

At the time, Folsom was small in size, home to not much more than agriculture and a prison. While he invested in the family farm, he too invested in the promotion of the city that has grown so greatly around his family’s successful farm so many love.

“This is my favorite time of year,” he said, adding that the pumpkin patch continues to be a hobby, not a career. “We do this as part of giving back to the community. It’s so important to give back. We like to share life with the community.”

Zittel’s pumpkin patch is open weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The farm can be reached at 916-989-2633 and is located at 6781 Oak Avenue in Folsom.


Fast facts you should know about pumpkins

  • A pumpkin is really a squash. It’s a member of the Cucurbita family which includes squash and cucumbers.
  • Six of the seven continents can grow pumpkins including Alaska! Antarctica is the only continent that they won't grow in.
  • The "pumpkin capital" of the world is Morton, Illinois. This self-proclaimed pumpkin capital is where you'll find the home of the Libby Corporation’s pumpkin industry.
  • The Irish brought this tradition of pumpkin carving to America. The tradition originally started with the carving of turnips. When the Irish immigrated to the U.S., they found pumpkins a plenty and they were much easier to carve for their ancient holiday.
  • Pumpkins contain potassium and Vitamin A.
  • Pumpkin flowers are edible.
  • The largest pumpkin pie ever made was larger than five feet in diameter and weighed more than 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12-dozen eggs and took six hours to bake.
  • In early colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling.
  • Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites.
  • The largest pumpkin ever grown weighed 1,140 pounds.
  • The Connecticut Field-variety is the traditional American pumpkin.
  • Pumpkins are 90 percent water.
  • Eighty percent of the pumpkin supply in the United States is available in October.
  • Native Americans flattened strips of pumpkins, dried them and made mats
  • Native Americans called pumpkins "isqoutm squash."
  • Native Americans used pumpkin seeds for food and medicine.