by Dennis Dalman
As the sizzling summer heat turns to cooler days and frosty nights, many people’s thoughts turn to pumpkin-harvest time and Halloween festivities.
And that is exactly what the Boulder Crest Farm in St. Stephen offers – lots of fun for families centered around pumpkins and gourds and picture-taking opportunities with picturesque autumnal backdrops of straw bales, corn stalks, old wagons, a red barn and more.
Boulder Crest Farm will offer eight kinds of pumpkins and gourds, as well as family-fun activities.
The farm will open for visitors on Friday, Sept. 22 and will remain open every day until Halloween, Tuesday, Oct. 31. Weekday hours will be from 2:30 p.m. until dusk; weekend hours will be from 9 a.m. until dusk.
For directions to the farm, see the last paragraphs of this story.
Boulder Crest Farm is where family traditions, neighborliness, close community friendships and generational continuity converge and flourish.
It all started in the summer of 2016 when Mitch and Marie Pangerl moved to the area when Marie accepted the district assessment coordinator position for the Sartell-St. Stephen School District. After months of searching for the “perfect” piece of property, the Pangerls found a bare 20 acres just south of St. Stephen. Both Marie and Mitch grew up on central Minnesota farms so those “bare acres” quickly sparked their imaginations and rekindled former ambitions. Mitch, a former licensed general contractor, didn’t waste any time, building the first structure on the property – a shop. They then built their home followed by a greenhouse.
In the coming years, they planted in their greenhouse turmeric, ginger, succulents and a big variety of vegetables and then last summer they began selling the greenhouse produce at the end of their driveway. Many neighbors, commuters and friends enjoy stopping by to purchase fresh vegetables.
During their years at their St. Stephen farm, the Pangerls and their two young daughters loved going each fall to what was called “Grandpa’s Pumpkin Patch” just down the road from them. There, they would pick pumpkins, collect gourds and Indian corn, purchase straw bales and take family photos in front of an “adorable red barn.”
Last year, that pumpkin-patch owner, Dick Hansen, told Mitch he was going to close the business. The Pangerls thought it would be a great idea to continue Grandpa’s Pumpkin Patch right on their own property. So Mitch purchased many of “Grandpa” Hansen’s tools, equipment for seed-planting, wagons and picture-taking props, including that “adorable red barn.”
People who visited the pumpkin patch at Boulder Crest Farm last fall were happy the Pangerls had kept alive the Grandpa’s Pumpkin Patch tradition.
The two Pangerl daughters are Victoria, a ninth-grader at Sartell High School; and Elinor, a sixth-grader at Sartell Middle School. They are involved in several sports and activities such as dance, swimming, softball, soccer and theater.
Family, friends and a sense of close community are vital to the Pangerls and their downhome lifestyle. They often host friends from school, family friends and extended family members for bonfires, swimming and preparing home-cooked or baked meals with fresh greenhouse produce.
Generational rituals and traditions continue to flourish at Boulder Crest Farm. Marie’s grandmother, mother, sister, cousin, niece and Marie’s own daughters love to gather in the kitchen preparing apple pies, Christmas goodies, coffee cakes and canning foods.
Marie and Mitch Pangerl are happy about how the farm gives their girls a chance to have paying jobs. They help feed and exercise the dogs, plant seeds, harvest produce and help on projects with their father in his shop.
“The jobs around the farm allow our daughters to develop life skills at an early age, namely a strong work ethic and how to interact/socialize with customers,” Marie said. “The girls are getting proficient at completing timesheets, managing time, accounting and working together as a team. Everyone participates!”
Boulder Crest Farm address is located at 1011 CR 2, St. Stephen.
Directions from St. Stephen: Go 0.8 miles south of St. Stephen Catholic Church. Located on the west side of the road.
Directions from Sartell: Go west on CR 133, take the first exit northwest on Veterans Drive up to CR 2 (Fisher Hill), then go north for 4.7 miles. There, you’ll see the farm on the west side of the road.
Directions from St. Joseph: Go north on CR 2 for 9 miles. See farm on west side of the road.
For more about the farm, check its website at www.bouldercrestfarm.com or visit the Boulder Crest Farm Facebook site.