- You count down the days until Starbucks starts serving pumpkin spice lattes again.
- Apples are a side note, and pumpkins are the star of your fall baking line up.
- You carve pumpkins every year, even if you’re not that into Halloween.
- You bake a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, even if no one in your family likes it.
- Pumpkin soup seems weird to you, but pumpkin in ice cream, fudge, donuts, cookies, candy, cakes, pies, milkshakes, and cocktails is perfectly acceptable.
To restate the blaringly obvious, Americans are obsessed with pumpkins!
And, Germans… are not.
When I moved to Germany four years ago, I couldn’t believe that pumpkin wasn’t sold in cans. Nor was it sold year ’round. With sadness, I only enjoyed one taste of pumpkin that year – pie on Thanksgiving.
Each autumn here, I’ve gone a bit more overboard in my quest to not be left pumpkin-less at any time. Last year, I had about 20 cups of frozen pumpkin puree to last me until the next harvest. If you’ve seen German freezers, you’ll know that this is total insanity.
And, while the little soup and baking pumpkins sold in German supermarkets are completely adorable, they just aren’t right for carving. Imagine trying to hack a freaky face into a cantaloupe.
Yeah, that’s just not happening.
Now that the boys are older, I feel it is my duty as an American parent to expose them to their pumpkin-crazy culture (though I will hold off on the pumpkin spice lattes for as long as possible…).
And there’s no better place in Europe to go bananas over squash than Jucker Farm. (If you know of another, please do share in the comments below!)
Jucker Farm is located east of Zürich in Seegräben, Switzerland. It’s not a real farm in the sense that it’s mainly for tourists and the only smells wafting by your nose will those of roasting pumpkin seeds and pumpkin kettle corn.
Before I go any further, I should mention that Jucker Farm is completely, totally, 100% kid-friendly. If you want a Swiss family outing, this is it. You’ll find clean, free bathrooms, changing tables, kid-friendly foods, a petting zoo, a playground, and more!
Every year, Jucker Farm hauls in a wide variety of pumpkins and other winter squash for visitors to admire… and purchase. The delectable eats are piled in big bins, not scattered on the ground like a traditional American pumpkin patch. In addition to the raw goods, the farm shop at Jucker sells pumpkin products such as wine, oil, pasta, popcorn, and salsa.
Please be advised that while prices are not unreasonable, they are, ahem, Swiss. It’s free to visit the farm, take a leak, and swing in the hammocks, but almost every other activity (including parking) costs a pretty penny.
Several pumpkin-themed events are held annually, and crowds are significantly larger on these days (check the website for exact dates or call ahead).
We visited the weekend after the pumpkin regatta. This silly sport involves hollowing out a giant pumpkin, climbing inside, and racing across the nearby lake. We got quite a chuckle out of imagining grown men folding themselves into these big slimy buckets and paddling frantically toward the finish line.
The other big draw at Jucker Farm is picking your own fruit. Apples, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries are all available at various times of the year (more info here).
Given our previous enthusiasm for self-picked strawberries and apples, I was quite excited to go after the last of the blueberry harvest. Unfortunately, the season closed the evening before our visit (which only makes me more determined to go next year!).
The boys and I did have fun following Doc Sci to the middle of the three leafy labyrinths (Mr. Smarty Pants is not only good at solving puzzles, he’s great at cheating.. just follow the most traveled path, he says), but I think they were too young to really understand or try to figure out what we were doing.
A little tip for cheapskates, er I mean thrifty, visitors.. you are not allowed to bring your own picnic and sit at any of the tables to eat it. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a nice brown bag lunch. Just take your budget eats down to the lake, and take advantage of the benches there.By the way, the lake looked like a super place to swim. We’ll have to come back in summer and bring our suits!
As if you couldn’t already tell, we had a fabulous time at Jucker Farm. If you’re anywhere within a two-hour drive in the fall, I highly encourage you to pack up the kids and fill your day with fun (fruity?!) memories.
But, before I go, I just want to mention that Moms Tots Zürich has done a fine job of introducing visitors to Jucker Farm and sharing super helpful details for first-timers.
In fact, I emailed Tanya and asked her at least a dozen questions prior to our trip. She was gracious in answering each one, so I’d like to repay the favor by sending folks her way. For more details on Jucker Farm, or to just say hi, click here.