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.

Text Only
Local News
  • BREAKING: APD probes gun report near Blazer campus

    April 24, 2014

  • Judge denies renewed motion to dismiss Rosen lawsuit

    A judge has refused to dismiss a former Boyd district and circuit judge’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a law that affects his ability to run for re-election this fall.
    In an order entered on Friday, Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas D. Wingate denied a renewed motion to dismiss by current Boyd Circuit Judge George W. Davis III, an intervening respondent in the suit filed in January by Marc I. Rosen.

    April 23, 2014

  • Ashland football players join special-needs students for prom

    The purple chiffon gown and the sparkling tiara are back in the closet four days after the big dance, but Karina McBride still hasn’t stopped talking about Saturday night — the decorations, boys bringing her cups of punch, her first kiss (on the cheek, her mother hastens to interject), and dancing the night away at her first prom.
    “She’s been flying high since that night,” said Michele Woods, who is Karina’s mother and who brought together friends and volunteers to organize a prom for special needs students.

    April 23, 2014

  • Concrete pouring at Putnam

    Workers are pouring concrete foundations at Putnam Stadium and once those are dry and cured will be ready to install seats at the historic arena.
    The workers are putting in 12-hour shifts to keep on schedule to complete the stadium’s reconstruction in time for this fall’s football opener, said site supervisor Craig Chinn of Trace Creek Construction.
    The most visible work is happening on the home-team side of the stadium, where workers Tuesday were setting forms for the cylindrical concrete piers that will support the seats. Once those are poured, cured and inspected they will add the seats.

    April 23, 2014

  • Unique races for Carter magistrates

    Carter County magistrate ballots are full of candidates eager to represent constituents in each of the five districts that make up the county’s fiscal court.

    April 23, 2014

  • Martin County marks 50 years since LBJ visit

    Today marks 5o years since former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson visited Inez resident Tom Fletcher and promised to end poverty in America on April 24, 1964. On Friday, Inez will be commemorating the occasion with a special event.

    April 23, 2014

  • Trail Town trial run to be in Olive Hill this Sunday

    Olive Hill will participate in a trial run this Saturday in the city’s push to become a certified Kentucky Trail Town.

    April 23, 2014

  • Some area farmers may be eligible for LIP program

    The Grayson  Farm Service Agency, (Boyd, Carter, Elliott and Lawrence) is having registration for the Livestock Indemnity Program to eligible producers who suffered losses beginning Oct. 1, 2011, and subsequent years.

    April 23, 2014

  • News in brief, 04/24/14

    The King’s Daughters Pregancy and Infant Loss Support Group invites families who have experienced the loss of an infant during pregnancy or following birth to participate in a butterfly release and prayer ceremony at 2 p.m. May 10 at the Ashland Central Park fountain.

    April 23, 2014

  • Garner hosting National Day of Prayer activities

    The Garner Missionary Baptist Church will be hosting day long events at the Kyova Mall to commemorate the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 1.

    April 23, 2014

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP basketball
SEC Zone