The Rombach Farms Pumpkin Patch officially opened last weekend and on Wednesday the farm was bustling with employees hauling pumpkins and arranging displays.
One of those hustling was Marcia Rombach, the wife of Norman "Chip" Rombach. Patch explored this patch of a different nature with her as she explained the history of the farm and some of what it takes to make the operation a success each year.
Having hard-working, handy, dependable employees is a big part of what has made the farm a tradition for so many St. Louis families.
"Everybody that's here has been with us for 30 years, you know," Rombach said. "We might pick up a few new people here and there, but it's always someone somebody knows. Basically, it's family, friends and friends of friends that pull it all off and the same people come back year after year."
Chip Rombach began farming at the tender age of four-and-half-years old. Marcia explained that special modifications were added to the pedals on the family's tractor so he could get behind the wheel.
The pumpkin patch itself began as a small vegetable stand where Norman Rombach Sr. (Chip Rombach's father), his bothers and their wives would sell the fruits of the labor.
"One year the men grew pumpkins. This is what it turned into," Rombach said. "They just kept adding to it and adding to it."
The grounds of the farm are filled with displays, decorations and constructions, including a large wooden fort and a western-style street complete with saloon, all built with the help of friends.
"We got together on a napkin and drew this country salon and we built it at night when everyone got off work," Rombach said.
The many sets require a lot of maintenance, and for that Rombach said she gets help from the "best carpenter and the best electrician I know."
"We have a cabin back at the river," she explained. "They come in and they just like to tinker and fix things for us and then they go back in the cabin and fish."
Reaping a Good Harvest
The Rombachs may be one of the few farmers who have been asking for less rain the last few weeks, not more. Pumpkins, Rombach said, have deep roots and prefer to stay hot and dry.
"We got so much rain on Labor Day. That doesn't do the pumpkins any good," she said.
However, she said she's been surprised by the quality of their harvest, hauled from the 75 acres the Rombachs cultivate for pumpkins.
"There were some gorgeous ones coming out of there last weekend," she said.
The reason for the bountiful crop?
"The soil is fabulous down here. It's internationally known soil for being so rich, which is why it's sad to see so much of it going under concrete," she said.
Rombach Farms is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily with special activities on the weekend including BBQ, face painting, pony rides, barrel rides, inflatables and a beer and wine garden for thirsty parents.