Travel & Outdoors

Down on the Farm

During fall harvest time, bring a bit of the season home.

At harvest time, people are naturally drawn to the fields. We can’t
help it, says Steve Weber, a third-generation farmer in Baltimore

“It was explained to me a number of years ago,” he says. “People have
an inborn need to get back to the farm in the fall.” It’s a throwback,
he says, “to a time when everyone worked during the harvest.” The source
of this insight, he points out, “was a farm wife and also a
psychologist—so I put some stock in it.”

But the thousands who, each weekend, visit Weber’s Cider Mill Farm—a
stone’s throw from Perring Parkway—aren’t coming just for the
agri-vibes: most take a bit of the scene home with them. Along with
selling bales of hay and cornstalks popular for dressing up houses,
Weber’s has become famous for its scarecrow-making classes. Each year,
Weber buys stacks of flannel shirts and old denim jeans from a
not-for-profit for his workshop participants to stuff with straw.

Weber may be onto something: There’s something about the fall, the
transitional time of both lush produce and nascent decay, that inspires
people to decorate their front stoops with ripe orange pumpkins and
their lamp posts with brittle stalks of corn.

Local farmers understand this attraction, and are happy to indulge,
throwing open barn doors, hitching up the teams for horse-drawn wagon
rides, letting us wander their fields in pursuit of fall décor.

Sharp’s at Waterford Farm in Brookeville is all about pumpkins, says
Cheryl Nodar, manager of the country store there. Farmer Chuck Sharp has
been growing pumpkins in western Howard County for more than 40 years,
she says, and sells not only to the visitors who come on fall weekends
but also to local farms and festivals. Along with the pale-hued,
oversized fruits favored for jack-o’-lanterns, says Nodar, the farm
sells plenty of pumpkins for cooking—though she remains somewhat
perplexed at the number of people who buy all manner of squashes and
gourds “with no intention of cooking them.”

Nodar herself bakes a mean pumpkin pie and helps to educate the
pumpkin-patch amblers about the fleshy fruit’s culinary potential. The
farm sets up grills in October, offering slices of grilled pumpkins and
squash, and Nodar likes to describe the centerpiece of her own
Thanksgiving table: a squat, green Jarrahdale pumpkin, its seeds
removed, stuffed with walnuts, honey, chopped apples, and apple cider.
The recipe comes with the purchase of a pumpkin, she says.

Harman’s Farm Market is recognizable by the mural on the side of the
wooden building in Churchville. Local zoning restrictions prohibit
lettering on agricultural buildings, explains farmer Paula Harman, so
the larger-than-life images of two happy farm boys (her sons) beckon
travelers on Churchville Road. The farm’s fall activities tend to be
low-key. “We’ve intentionally kept an old-fashioned touch,” says Harman,
with activities like a straw-bale maze and wagon rides, plus a special
pumpkin patch designed for families with small children. As for
decorations, says Harman, “Except for the apples, everything we sell is
grown here,” including straw bales, ornamental gourds and pumpkins, and
corn shocks.

At Baugher’s Orchard & Farm store in Westminster, along with the
pick-your-own pumpkin patch and tractor-pulled wagon rides to get you
there, the cavernous farm store sells planters of mums in autumnal hues,
dried corn, gourds, and home items such as pottery and candles. The
place is also fully stocked with canning and preserving supplies, in
case you’re inspired by the bins of apples and piles of produce for

Finally, while decorating for fall, Maggie Wiles, nursery manager at
Greenstreet Gardens in Lothian, suggests you should still be thinking
spring. “Fall is the best time to plant anything and everything,” she
points out. “A lot of people don’t believe that.” The fall plants she
stocks at the nursery have thick roots, so once spring rolls around,
“you’ll be amazed by the color,” she says. And, of course, lots of folks
know enough about fall planting to put in some bulbs.

In our search for local farms that offer the goods for fall
decorating (and more), we found lots of other destinations, too. Here
are the ones we think are more than worth the drive:

Applewood Farm

Look for hay rides, pumpkin picking, a petting zoo, train rides, a
corn maze, cider, and fall decorations. 4435 Prospect Rd., Whiteford

Baugher’s Orchard & Farm

Pick your own apples and pumpkins. There’s also a petting zoo, market
with homemade ice cream, fresh-baked goods, jellies, jams, and produce,
plus flowers and home décor items. 1015 Baugher Rd., Westminster,

Brad’s Produce

There’s a corn maze, wagon rides to pick-your-own pumpkins, scarecrow
making, pumpkin painting, apples, apple cider, and fall
decorations. 550 Asbury Rd., Churchville, 410-734-4769,

Greenstreet Gardens

Shop for pansies, mums, pumpkins, cornstalks, and ornamental
cabbages. Weekend entertainment includes a dog Halloween costume contest
this month, live music, and corn maze. 391 West Bay Front Rd., Lothian,

Harman’s Farm Market

Great place for local produce, hay rides to the pumpkin patch, straw
maze, gourds, decorative winter squash, corn shocks, Indian corn, mums,
and straw bales for fall decorating. 2633 Churchville Rd. (Rte. 22),
Churchville, 410-734-7400,

Sharp’s at Waterford Farm

Take hayrides to pick-your-own pumpkins, then check out the country
store, farm animals, corn and cotton maze, and scarecrow making. 4003
Jennings Chapel Rd., Brookeville, 410-489-2572.

Spring Meadow Farms

Enjoy playground, pony rides, and a farm market including cider,
food, scarecrow making, and corn bundles, as well as outdoor and indoor
decorations. 15513 Hanover Pike, Upperco, 410-239-8505.

Weber’s Cider Mill Farm

Don’t miss the apple cider, baked goods, fudge, and ice cream, then
check out the fall festival, wagon rides, hay maze, and scarecrow
workshops. 2526 Proctor Ln., Parkville, 410-668-4488.