How to Start a Pumpkin Patch Business
A pumpkin patch can be a lucrative seasonal business, especially if it offers more than just the opportunity to pick out a pumpkin. Like all other agricultural businesses, operating a pumpkin patch requires proper licensing, the use of heavy farming equipment, tolerance for seasonal ebbs and flows, and effective marketing.
Starting a pumpkin patch business has two primary components: the business of operating a pumpkin patch and the literal pumpkin patch. If an aspiring entrepreneur already has land set aside for a pumpkin patch, he is a step ahead of others who need to find land for sale or for lease to grow their pumpkin patches. Beyond obtaining land, the business owner has to actually grow the pumpkins, which is a process that starts in the spring. Pumpkins have a growing cycle of about 120 days.
The other component of starting a pumpkin patch business is registering the business with the state. If the business owner already operates a licensed farm, he does not have to register the pumpkin patch as a separate business. If the pumpkin patch is an entirely new operation, the business owner must register his business with the state and the IRS. This subjects him to tax liability but also enables him to write off business expenses, hire employees and take advantage of any farm subsidies for which he is eligible.
During the early planning stages, an aspiring pumpkin grower should determine whether she plans to solely sell pumpkins directly to the public or if she plans on selling pumpkins wholesale. Selling pumpkins wholesale requires a significantly larger parcel of land than operating a direct-to-consumer pumpkin patch, which in turn requires more labor, a larger irrigation system and a greater investment in commercial farming equipment. It also requires the pumpkin patch owner to cultivate relationships with wholesale buyers, which might be grocery stores, box stores or food product manufacturers.
A smaller-scale pumpkin patch requires less startup capital and ongoing investment than a patch that will be selling pumpkins wholesale, but it requires just as much planning and certain other types of planning that are not part of creating a commercial pumpkin patch. A pumpkin patch meant to attract visitors for days of family pumpkin picking and other autumnal activities requires a greater amount of social media marketing, word-of-mouth marketing and engaging attractions that will bring visitors to the farm and generate profit.
Along with coming up with pumpkin patch ideas, the farm’s operator has to build a budget that accounts for all the expenses associated with operating a pumpkin patch. These expenses include:
- Workers’ wages
- Utility costs
- Equipment costs
- Equipment maintenance
- Pumpkin seeds
- Activity operation costs
A popular way to attract visitors to a pumpkin patch is to offer fun activities. A few examples of fun pumpkin patch ideas are:
- A petting zoo
- Pumpkin painting
- A snack stand with apple cider, old-fashioned donuts and other fall treats
- A corn maze
- A haunted house
- Costumed characters
The last component of launching a successful pumpkin patch business is marketing. A pumpkin patch owner can create social media posts advertising her pumpkin patch and all it offers, like a haunted hayride or a petting zoo. She can use video marketing to showcase specific activities at the pumpkin patch and create hashtags to spread the word about the pumpkin patch and all it has to offer.
In addition to social media marketing, the pumpkin patch owner can engage in more traditional forms of marketing like posting flyers around town and creating a billboard. She can also offer promotions, like two-for-one hayride admission on specific dates or a free pumpkin to every child who shows up in a Halloween costume to attract families.