Edneyville farmers have grown their own niche
There’s a silo on Stacy Nix’s farm. That’s not too exceptional in the Edneyville area, where granaries dot the agrarian landscape like metal toadstools. But this silo is different: It’s painted orange and cracks a persuasive jack-o’-lantern grin, toothless save for one bottom incisor. To passersby, the silo is a seasonal lighthouse of sorts—a landmark that beckons folks to a corner of Henderson County where pumpkins, not apples, are the cornerstone of community.
“This is the only place in the county where you can go out in the field and cut a pumpkin right off the vine,” says Stacy, who opened The Nix Pumpkin Patch just two seasons ago with her husband, Travis, and daughter Dena, now 22.
Since then, the you-pick operation has earned its stripes as an Apple Country staple. When the air turns brisk and the calendar bleeds into October, folks heed the smiling silo and turn off Highway 64 for a taste of farm life. While neighboring fields boast Pink Lady and Granny Smith cultivars, you won’t find a single apple tree here. But what the Nix property lacks in the county’s most celebrated fruit, it makes up for in its quantity and diversity of fall’s favorite vegetable.
Outfitted with handheld clippers and bright orange wheelbarrows, guests can hand pick their favorites from more than 10,000 pumpkins. Besides the official Jack-o’-Lantern, an heirloom pumpkin cultivated for carving, Stacy grows varieties like the Porcelain Doll, an endearing pumpkin that turns blush pink when ripe, and the Cotton Candy, a more somber type with snow-white flesh. “We have blue pumpkins, green pumpkins, tan pumpkins, and bright orange pumpkins,” says Stacy. “After each season, Travis and I sit down with the seed catalog and I pick the pretty ones.”
Stacy picks some pretty gargantuan pumpkins, too. The Prizewinner, for instance, is a behemoth that can grow to nearly 300 pounds. “Customers remove seats from their car to take that one home,” she reveals with a laugh. “It takes lots of people to move them.”
Carving such a big pumpkin requires big tools, says Dena. As a child, she and her father used heavy-duty equipment like drills and electric saws to make Halloween pumpkins smile or grimace. “It’s a little different than using a knife,” says Dena, who also has memories of playing in the dirt, picking mountain cabbages and winter squash, and making friends with children from nearby farms. “Living out here as a kid was awesome,” she remembers. “I got to know all the other Edneyville families and build a community.”
Today, Dena is all grown up. She graduated from Western Carolina University not too long ago and has since started a job as a special-education teacher at Upward Elementary School. But she’s still rooted in the pumpkin patch, spending weekends running the farmstand and weekdays combining her two loves—agriculture and K-5 education—through outreach efforts.
When the patch first opened, Dena worked with high schoolers from North and West Henderson and elementary schoolers from Glenn C. Marlow Elementary to distribute a cute, baseball-sized gourd called the Wee-B-Little to each kindergartener in Henderson County. Dena is now teaching her students about the life cycle of a pumpkin—from seed to flower to fruit—and planning a field trip to the patch.
“The best part is seeing the kiddos’ faces. They’re so giddy,” says Dena. “But time on the farm also helps preserve our county’s agricultural roots. Most kids only know pumpkins from the grocery store, so coming out here is an experience of a lifetime.”
Needless to say, the pumpkin was destined for more than stoop sitting. The Nix family recognized the plant’s potential even before the early 2000s, when Starbucks released the pumpkin-spice latte and ignited a worldwide fervor for pumpkin-flavored everything—bacon, ice cream, beer, and, to dentists’ displeasure, even toothpaste.
“We’ve been growing pumpkins for 20 years now,” says Stacy. (The couple decided to add an agritourism element to the operation in September 2019, and opened their roadside produce market a year later.) She and Travis harvest a long list of other fruits and vegetables for wholesale markets, too, including peaches, corn, cabbage, squash, okra, potatoes, and grapes.
But never apples. “We wanted to be different from other farms in Edneyville,” says Stacy.
The Nix Pumpkin Patch (3726 Chimney Rock Road) is open each day from 9:30am-6pm through the second week in November. For more information, call 828-808-7346 or find the patch on Facebook.