Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

September 28, 2011

Pumpkins aplenty: McCarty hilltop farm in Boyd celebrates fall's favorite fruit

CANNONSBURG — With weather wiping out this year’s pumpkin crops in other places, they’ve done just fine on Lloyd and Beth McCarty’s hilltop farm in Boyd County.

“Wholesale prices went from averaging 20 cents a pound to 60 cents a pound. They’re begging for them,” McCarty said, explaining growers in Indiana suffered an extremely dry season while pumpkin patches in the Northeast were literally soaked.

“And I’ve been fortunate again this year,” he continued, humbly reporting he grew some genuine whoppers subject to Internet reports for those who will go to great lengths for the perfect autumn accent.

“They come from all over. It’s a big market. We sent one to Columbus, one to Lexington and one to Pikeville that I can think of. They know you’ve got it because they Google it. That kind of surprised me.”

Among the many varieties of pumpkins and squashes McCarty tends, he seems to smile most when he talks about his success with the class of pumpkins known as “giants,” which he cultivates in orange, white and blue.

“I got about 60 of the Orange Giants and probably 320 pounds was the biggest. The Giant Whites ... I got about 20 and the biggest was right at 150 pounds. Probably 110 pounds was the biggest on the Giant Blue,” he said, explaining the giant varieties aren’t grown purely for the premium price, but also for pride. “It’s not necessarily the price. It’s being able to grow them. I’m now consistent with it. Next year, we’re probably going to go for about 500 of those.”

A true family farm, McCarty’s Greenhouse & Pumpkin Farm relies upon long hours and dedicated efforts of the McCartys, Mrs. McCarty’s sister, Jimmie Lee Blanton, McCarty’s sister, Kristy McCarty, and her fiancé, Kevin Felty.

“And we could not have made this happen without the help of Kevin Felty,” Mrs. McCarty emphasized before adding the man sitting on the porch swing, Jim Fields, drives the tractor and performs any other task asked of him. Stories of long days consumed by back-breaking chores with short spells of sleep before it all started over again aren’t uncommon in this crowd — including a recent day when Mrs. McCarty’s sister was too tired to talk, something they laugh and say they’d never experienced.

They started four years ago with hoes, buckets and hillsides others said were too steep for growing round produce. Investing literally everything they’ve made along the way back into the operation, they now have a nice tractor, trailers, tillers, sprayers, a massive new greenhouse that already “must be” expanded by 30 feet and the prospect of breaking even. And you’ll find at least one or two of them ready to help between 9:30 a.m. and “dark ... sometimes after dark,” seven days a week.

Along with the bounty of seven acres worth of pumpkin, squash and gourd vines, the McCarty operation produced 6,000 mums in 14 colors this year, under the hand-worked supervision of Mrs. McCarty and Blanton, who estimate they have about 1,000 remaining, including many in their favorite shade of burnt orange. They’ve added Christmas poinsettias to their operation this year (asking for any orders by no later than Nov. 2). And, in McCarty fashion, they’re looking to make the hilltop farm even bigger next season.

“Next year, we’re shooting for 16 acres,” McCarty said confidently before he and his wife began discussing the different virtues of some of their pumpkins and squashes.

“Cheese pumpkins are good for New York cheesecake and cushaws are good for pies,” Mrs. McCarty said, leading to a conversation about their Cinderella pumpkins, which are the same type used exclusively by Libby for its canned pumpkin pie filling.

While they have certainly done their own research, Mrs. McCarty said much of the best pumpkin and squash information she passes along came from “older women who came around here and told me about it.”

Mrs. McCarty advises the easiest way to find their farm (from Ashland) is to get on U.S. 60 and turn left at the red light past the Walmart in Cannonsburg, go straight through the four-way stop past the Cannonsburg Volunteer Fire Department and go uphill for approximately three miles.

For more information, call (606) 465-3079.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Flatwoods mayoral debate set for Tuesday

    A public debate among the candidates seeking to become the next mayor of Flatwoods will take place next week.

    April 22, 2014

  • Ashland couple indicted on grave violation charges

     A man and a woman from Ashland have been indicted for allegedly stealing brass flower vases from graves at Rose Hill Burial Park.

    April 22, 2014

  • South Shore clerk gives updates on city building bids, sewer project

    City officials may not have to wait much longer to move from their temporary offices on Main Street into a shiny, new building.

    April 22, 2014

  • Fate of stray animals in Carter County questioned

    Stray animals in Carter County may be disappearing because no one seems to know exactly where they are going.

    April 22, 2014

  • Recovery center finds home

    The mayor of Grayson said he isn’t concerned about the money a new recovery center will funnel into the city, although he is deeply appreciative of what the proposed facility may be able to offer “people who really need help” recovering from the effects of drug and alcohol abuse.

    April 22, 2014

  • Olive Hill man charged with shooting wife during dispute

    A Carter County man has been arrested for allegedly shooting his wife in the neck during a domestic dispute.
    Robert Tackett, 47, of Olive Hill, was lodged in the Carter County Detention Center on Monday, charged with attempted murder-domestic violence, Kentucky State Police at Ashland said.

    April 22, 2014

  • Two of three Greenup commission seats on ballot

    Two of three commission seats are up for grabs in Greenup County this fall, and both will involve primary contests to determine the ballot lineup in the November election.

    April 22, 2014

  • 0423attmurder_tackett.jpg Olive Hill man charged with attempted murder

    A Carter County man has been arrested for allegedly shooting his wife in the neck during a domestic dispute.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rotary updated on Alliance

    Ed Neely, president of the Ashland Rotary Club and chairman of the Ashland Alliance, addressed Rotarians in both capacities during the Monday meeting to give an update on the organization’s recent progress.

    April 21, 2014

  • Prater has been satisfying fans’ hunger for 40 years

    Debbie Prater has satisfied thousands of athletes’, parents’ and fans’ snacking desires for nearly 360 months.
    That’s just about 40 years of serving nachos, popcorn, chili dogs, water and soda from Lewis County’s football, basketball and baseball concession stands, and Prater is retiring after this year’s last pitch.

    April 21, 2014