Pumpkins in Amish Country (15 Photos)

Is it just me or do pumpkins make their appearance earlier every year? They have been camped out in front of the local Kroger, and popping up around the neighborhood for the last week or two at least.

People just seem to like being around pumpkins, and pumpkin-branded things. They’ve certainly gotten into our foods. McDonald’s is selling some pumpkin coffee now, and so is Bruegger’s, to go with their pumpkin bagels.  I see Dunkin Donuts has some kind of pumpkin pie-flavored donut. And of course there’s all the pumpkin-themed candy and decor.


I think pumpkins are so popular for a few reasons:

  1. They might be the most cheery-looking of all the things that grow (what other crop has so much character?)
  2. They herald the arrival of autumn, favorite season of many, and
  3. Of course Halloween.

Add your reasons below if you like, there must be others.  

Like many, I am partial to pumpkins. Probably more for the way they look than the way they taste, though I don’t mind a good pumpkin pie.


By the way, is a pumpkin a fruit or a vegetable? Writing this post I realized I don’t really think of the pumpkin as either. A pumpkin is just…a pumpkin.

Browsing about online, I see references to pumpkins as a fruit, a vegetable–a type of squash…and even a berry(?). I’m not going to link anything, but let us know if you know the pumpkin story.


Thanks to reader Ed, who shared a batch of Amish harvest photos last month, we have some photos of pumpkins today.

Pumpkins are a cash crop for some Amish and Mennonites in Lancaster County and elsewhere, along with their decorative autumn partners gourds and squash.

These were taken in various places and stages in Lancaster County.













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    1. Al in Ky

      It seems like pumpkins are always in ample supply at Amish/Mennonite produce auctions in the fall, and in a wide variety of sizes and colors. I remember a few years ago at the Cedar Valley Produce Auction at Elma, Iowa, there were thousands of pumpkins — too many for the number of buyers there. Nice large pumpkins were selling for as cheap as a nickel each, and some didn’t get any bid at all. I wondered what the farmers did with those that didn’t sell — maybe took them home to feed to the livestock. I have occasionally met a conservative Amish farmer here and there who will only grow small pie pumpkins, and will not grow larger ones because the farmer didn’t believe Halloween should be celebrated and didn’t want any of their pumpkins used for jack-o-lanterns. I also remember a couple of years ago when we
      had a very hot summer in our area, one of my Amish friend’s pumpkins grew so fast, they got ripe in August. People just weren’t in the mood to buy pumpkins when it was 100 degrees outside!

      1. There has to be a nip in the air to do anything pumpkin-related, in my book.

        Interesting anecdote Al about the pumpkin grower…thinking about the end use. People have different attitudes about what is done with a product after it leaves their hands.

      2. Erin

        That is interesting, Al. Now that you mention it, the Amish families that I know in MN only grow pie pumpkins. The extras are fed to the cows.

    2. Karen Pollard

      For AL in KY

      Hi Al,

      Just wondering about your location in Kentucky??? I’m in Owensboro; anywhere close to me?

      1. Marcie


        Hi Karen!
        I live in Owensboro, too!

        1. Karen Pollard


          That’s really unusual, to find another Owensboroan on here!!! It’s not a tiny city, but not that large either.

          1. Jenna

            Another KY reader with Owensboro ties

            I see that there are more Owensboro,KY readers. I have been reading this blog for several years now and am married to an Owensboro native. I live in La Grange now, but have several family members there.

            1. Karen Pollard

              Owensboro Ties

              So, who are you related to here?

              My family owned Mr. Tuxedo and The Bridal House for years. I wanted no part of that business, so I became and teacher and taught for 30 years instead.

              1. Jenna

                I am related to both the Cates and McDonald Families in Owensboro. My mother in law used to own a real estate business on Frederica. My former in laws, the Cates, were both teachers for Daviess County Schools.

    3. New York State of Mind

      Really enjoy those beautiful pictures. So nice of Ed to share his pictures.

    4. Diane Paulson


      I love pumpkin pie, but not the calories. For those of you in Trader Joe’s country, their pumpkin butter is pie without the crust! Great on toast. I suppose the Amish might make pumpkin butter? I wish I lived where I could buy theirs, if they do.

    5. Janina

      Here in Belgium pumpkins are gaining popularity. I see more of them every year, and I’ve even seen a house surrounded by dozens of pumpkins already this September. It’s the ultimate symbol of autumn!
      It’s also more and more linked to Halloween I guess, as this holiday is also getting more popular over here. (We are so influenced by the USA…)

      The use of the pumpkin in food is different over here though. Belgians would rather make soup with it, or puree with potatoes & pumpkin. Therefore I’d say for me it’s more a vegetable and not fruit… But I love pumkin spice coffees! Only Starbucks serves these here though…

      Love the photos again by the way. Makes me think autumn isn’t too bad after all… It is a beautiful season and I’m looking forward to carving my own pumpkin for Halloween. (I love how this holiday made it all the way to our side of the pond…)

    6. Linda

      Pumpkins and Potatoes

      Great photos, Erik! I love to see pumpkins and agree with what you say that they herald fall….and we have them here in Manitoba as well. But for me, because we grow potatoes commercially, which means a lot of work harvesting come Sept and Oct, potatoes herald fall as well.

    7. Tracy

      BEAUTIFUL photos! It has me missing Lancaster County! I love anything pumpkin–the squashes themselves esthetically as well as in taste! And in keeping with the Amish-theme…I like the “newer” pumpkin-flavored whoopie pies. :o) Since the pumpkin is a squash, it probably goes in the vegetable category. Here in Norway the pumpkin can be found, but often VERY expensive to buy. The squash generally is not used much here, sadly. But I feel lucky when I can get hold of butternut squashes, which I puree and freeze for pies, breads & seasonal baking, soups, pasta dishes, etc. I feel hungry now… LOL!

    8. Adair
    9. Debbie H

      love pumpkins

      Pumpkins are one of my favorites. I use them for soup, muffins, spreads, custards, and of course, PIE. Pumpkins are definitely a vegetable from the squash family and full of fiber. Nothing says Fall like pumpkins. My favorite time of the year in Florida even though it doesn’t really get cool until the end of October.

    10. I thought they were a type of Gourd?

      We put hills around our garden and plant them late. That way they vine out into the grass, not taking up room in the garden soil. (and I don’t have to mow it) They also grow the largest when thay get in the shade, or a vine goes under a fence and one is hidden in the weeds. Seems that’s the one that grows the largest.
      I thought they were in the gourd family because each section in the female flower corresponds with a petal of the flower, and when pollinated, each section must have the pollen from the male flower to polinate each section, or you can end up with a funky out of shape gourd. (just like corn has to pollenate each kernel with the “hair”) Each “section” down the pumpkin also corresponds with those sections and petals from the flower. Since there are always lots of male flowers close to where the plant comes out of the ground, it takes bees to carry the pollen to the female flowers farther out the vines. They are beutiful in the morning and the huge flower doesn’t last long, so each morning we pollenate them by hand in case it’s a rainy day and the bees don’t do the job in the short time the flowers are open.
      We clean them out and freeze the “goop” to bake at least a pie a month all year long.
      Don’t forget pumpkin Whoopie Pies ! For years I thought the lighter pies were a light chocolate and never tried one. Then at Shirktown one year my wife bought some (and was scolded for buying them since she makes the BEST anyway) Well, I tried one on the way home in the dark not knowing it was pumpkin. That was it, she makes pumpkin Whoopies 10 to 1 to chocolate now.

      1. Don’t understand Paul Long’s comment about “freezing the goop and making pies.” Pies aren’t made from the goop as far as I know–they’re made from the flesh of the pumpkin.

        Leftover pumpkins and squash are fed to the cattle in this area.

        1. Pumpkin Goop

          Goop is the meat from the flesh of the pumpkin.
          You cut a hole at the stem and remove seeds. Quarter or slice and steam or bake the pieces until soft. Remove outer shell by peeling, then mash the cooked flesh. For pies we freeze 3 cups of goop per pie. (any extra filling is cooked in pie dish without crust for a custurd – some reason that’s better than the pie and never makes it to the fridge) and for whoopie pies we freeze 1 1/2 cup per container to make a couple sheets of cakes. Same goop is used for breads and many other uses. The seeds are baked on a cookie sheet with butter and salt until golden brown or to taste.

          1. Sorry, Paul. I thought you were calling the stringy, seedy, slimey stuff “goop.” So we agree! And most of ours is done as custard rather than pies–good way to cut some fat out of the diet.

            Without adding spices it seems to me that pumpkin alone really doesn’t have that much taste and blindfolded, I don’t know if I could tell the difference between it and some pureed squash or maybe even other vegetables.

        2. I should add;

          Some recipes call it cooked pumpkin, some puree, some glop, others goop….. in a can with spices added it’s simply filling.
          The stringy entrails that are removed with seeds are called guts around here.

        3. judy


          Iwant to buy pumpkins for my store. Who sales them. thanks

    11. Carolyn

      Beautiful pictures. Thank you.

    12. Eddy Flick

      Real Amish Pumpkins

      Do pumpkins come in black? Or at least a conservative color?

    13. Nancy Consolo

      Things we did not learn in school!

      Botanists say pumpkins are a fruit, actually a berry and so are tomatoes, squash, peas, corn and peppers. The definition says the part of a plant considered fruits develop from a flower above ground. But some of their parts, leaves and stalks are in the vegetable family.

      Nancy in Oregon

      1. Rob T

        Vegetable or fruit

        I always consider anything that develops from a flower a fruit cucumbers pumpkins tomatoes any kind of nuts Etc vegetables are usually the leaves stems or Roots such a spinach lettuce carrots Etc it doesn’t actually matter how you use them. I also love most pumpkin products and actually grow some here for myself on Long Island. They are a huge cash crop poor farmers in Eastern Long Island and the center of many festivals in the autumn. There are days when the roads are almost impossible due to the number of attendees to the pumpkin festivals. I’m glad that we still have green areas in Farm land though.

    14. Veronica

      Great photos share today. Fall is my favorite time of year. I am curious would some church districts not allow the growing and selling of pumpkins because they are used so much for Halloween? Also does anyone know what they do actually do with the pumpkins that would be left over after the selling season is over? I am really enjoying all the post Eric. Thank you for sharing all your knowledge about the Amish and Mennonites with us. Also thanks to all the people who leave comments which many times gives us even more knowledge. I hope everyone is having a great week!!

    15. Matt from CT

      >I thought they were in the gourd family

      Squash are a genus within the Gourd family. The gardening websites I hang out on usually call them “Cucurbits” which is the shortened form of the latin name for the Gourd family (Cucurbitaceae).

      Pumpkins are squashes along with things like Zucchini.

      Cucumbers are also cucurbits, but are not a squash.

      I wonder if there is something culturally “old” to the images of pumpkins and corn shocks — you know you’ve gotten a harvest to last through the winter, since pumpkins and grain are two of the easier to store, long lasting foods.

    16. Tom in KY

      An old friend

      Well good to see some other Kentucky folks on Amish America. I am from Eastern Kentucky, here in the Cumberland mountains. Erik, it has been a while and I have not posted any comments for a bit, but I still check in from time to time, and I look forward to reading your new book.

      1. Karen Pollard

        Question for Tom

        Hi Tom,

        My husband and I are planning a vacation to the eastern KY for the third week in October. Any Amish communities in the eastern part of our state???

        1. Al in Ky

          There are Amish communities in Maysville, Owingsville, and Crab
          Orchard. Crab Orchard has a couple of good Amish stores and an Amish produce auction. I don’t know of any Amish communities in far eastern Kentucky.

    17. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

      I actually have fond memories of pumpkin carving when I was a kid. My brother and I particularly loved the “goop” that came out, that was probably the most fun part of the whole ritual. I remember once or twice my father baked the seeds. I think the marker design that makes a pumpkin turn into a jackal-lantern (I don’t know how to spell that) was secondary in our house compared to the thrill of being able to “dissect” the pumpkins (there always had to be two, one for me and one for him).

      Maybe we’ve discussed this before, probably last October and the one before that, but the Amish aren’t keen on the concept of carving pumpkins into scary faces and the whole Halloween ritual that evolved into what it is today in North America, are they?

      I know they don’t necessarily have the grand yearly rite of watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”

    18. Don Curtis

      Mark's response as a science teacher

      As most of you know, Mark joined the Amish after he retired from teaching. He taught science for most of his twenty-eight year teaching career. He informed me that pumpkins are a fruit. Fruits are anything that contain seeds. There is no real classification of vegetables. Vegetables are a kitchen, cooking term. Vegetables, as we term them, can be fruits (peppers), stems (celery), leavers (lettuce), roots (carrots). These are just a few. Some people include mushrooms as a vegetable and they aren’t even a plant. They are a fungi. That’s what you get when you have a school teacher for a son.

    19. Dave

      Natural Beauty

      Thank you for the :60 vacation 🙂

    20. Marcie


      Erik, Wo bist du?
      We miss your wonderful posts! Hope everything is going well.


      1. Marcie, ich bin “back on the blog” 🙂 I was away for a week in Lancaster, probably should have noted as much. Posts returning soon!

    21. Linda


      I love this site…and what a wonderful community. Are not pumpkins and autumn and like-minded souls an extraordinary blessing?! Many thanks for your comments, all.

    22. Alice Mary

      BEST time of year!

      Fall is my absolute favorite time of year (also my birthday season). What better time than harvest, when you can see & enjoy the “fruits” (or vegetables, squash, gourds, etc.) of your labor! The beautiful color changes (trees, weeds, wildflowers, grasses, etc.) lend a wonderful golden glow to the earth (at least where I live), which cheers me immensely!!

      Mmmm! Pumpkin pie, pumpkin butter (got some good homemade Amish kind in Arthur, IL years back), pumpkin bread, pumpkin cream cheese (so good on an English muffin or bagel), pumpkin donuts, coffee,etc., just makes it even better.

      I heard growing up that pumpkin is a squash (or gourd). As I recall, the first “jack-o-lanterns” were carved out of turnips + gourds, so do conservative Amish not plant those crops, either? Just wondering.

      Since I’m still not allowed to drive (post-op), I’ve not been out to see the Fall foliage (late in getting here this year–most trees still green! How about in YOUR areas?) or pumpkin patches, so I REALLY appreciate the photos! Thank you for sharing them, and posting them!

      Alice Mary

    23. Erin

      It’s funny the day you posted this, I saw Pumpkin Spice M&M’s at Target. Not sure how that would taste…

      I loved the photos and as someone else said, truly enjoyed the 60 second vacation! Thanks for sharing!

    24. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

      Fall, thankfulness and everything

      Today (October 14, 2013) is Thanksgiving in Canada, and I wanted to wish everyone on Amish America well. The weather in this part of southern Ontario is lovely, the colours are all fall like, and many are still on the trees, although I’m not in Ontario’s Amish Country (we have a Mennonite Church building about fifteen-twenty minutes drive away from here, but they are not Horse and Buggy), everything is as a fall day should be.

      I hope you all are thankful for everything in your life, regardless if you mark Thanksgiving today or roughly a month from now, and I think we should all be thankful every day for this, Amish America, as a great Amish information resource, we should be thankful to Erik for his time and effort and permitting us to share what we know, share tidbits of humor, and opinions (agreed with or not).

      I hope this Monday morning, afternoon, or evening whichever the case may be finds you well.

      1. Happy Thanksgiving Shom to you and all our other Canadian friends. I like hearing about how things are done north of the border so appreciate these kinds of posts Shom.

        On the pumpkins topic, I just returned from a week in Lancaster, and they are everywhere–I suppose this is peak or near the peak. There is an abundance of roadside sellers with stands and some just selling off the lawn.

        Naturally prices are low as a result of the high supply. You can get large ones in the $3-3.50 range. I saw some real monsters though whose prices well exceeded that–$15 and up–one was around $30-40. The ones nearer 30/340 were a tad more expensive, at least where I stopped.

        There are a lot of varieties of gourds and pumpkins out there, more than I recall. The white pumpkins seem to be popular. I also learned the name of those funny ones that look like they have oversized caps like mushrooms–“Turks’ Turbans”.

      2. City Slicker


        Here, here! I second the motions!

    25. Amish "Jack 'o' Lantern"

      While in Lancaster Co last week, I saw the closest thing to an Amish Jack-o-Lantern I have seen. It wasn’t carved, but had a light marker or pen child-drawn face on the front (along with some other scribblings–you could tell it was a young child who’d done it). It was a small pie pumpkin, set out at the end of the lane.

    26. Terry Berger

      Wu hascht Du gewese? Besuche noch in Lancaster Kounty?