Oma’s Pumpkin Patch is a fun place to start the fall season

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Giggles and squeals abound in Oma’s Pumpkin Patch at Van Ommering’s Diary Farm in Lakeside.

Kids were running around, enjoying the wide open spaces, down on the farm, and parents smiling from ear to ear, enjoying the big outdoors too and watching their little ones experience the wonders of nature.

Giggles and squeals abound in Oma’s Pumpkin Patch at Van Ommering’s Diary Farm in Lakeside.

Kids were running around, enjoying the wide open spaces, down on the farm, and parents smiling from ear to ear, enjoying the big outdoors too and watching their little ones experience the wonders of nature.

Last Tuesday was the first official day of fall. In Lakeside there are no fall colors to announce the changing season, but there is Oma’s Pumpkin Patch, which gives San Diegans a taste of what fall is about. Pumpkins piled high on hay bales, kiddies trying to pick out their favorite. That was one of the joys at the end of the day in taking home that cherished pumpkin.

Brenda and Dave Van Ommering and extended family members got a jump-start on fall and Halloween by planting six acres of pumpkins on their farm back in June, they also planted lots of corn so they could have the corn stalks to use for decoration at the Pumpkin Patch. As the Halloween season approaches and more and more children come to the Patch, the pumpkin supply will be coming from Ramona and Hemet farms.

Parents and teachers who want to give their kiddies the country experience haul children from all over San Diego County. Birthday parties are also be very popular at the farm.  Visitors are encouraged to bring their own lunch but there is the Cowcountry Café that sells snacks as well.

Some of the various entertainment treats the kiddies experienced are sledding on a hill of cottonseeds, which acts just like snow.  Taking a hay ride, in wagons pulled by a tractor, a tour of the cows and dairy operation, a hay bale mystery maze to find their way through, artificial cows to milk, goats to pet, a huge sand box with lots of Tonka trucks and tractors to play with and pedal carts.

This all began back in 1993 when the lady of the house, Gerry Van Ommering gave Spring dairy tours to a few classes at the request of teachers who wanted their students to see what cows were and how they lived and where milk came from. Word spread and soon the tours were becoming popular among the teachers and classes. Other schools joined the fun, all this donated time was given freely. In 2000 when the family started the Pumpkin Patch, they started charging admission, and they had to get help from the other family members and volunteers as well. The most unique thing about this Pumpkin Patch is that it is located on the real dairy farm with real cows and other animals, something that city kids don’t get to see often.

Oma and Opa passed away a few years ago, but the family says they are honoring them by continuing their legacy.

“We are following what she and my Father-In-Law started.  They enjoyed people and always had homemade cookies to share,” said Brenda Van Ommering.

Their house has been recycled, it now serves as an office and the living room has been converted into a cute gift shop with a lot of hand made crafts and country items and even Oma’s Pumpkin Patch T-shirts for sale.

Besides running the Pumpkin Patch the Van Ommering family has the dairy business to run around the clock. Brothers Dave and Robert, and only three employees keep it running smoothly and milking twice a day.  In the Pumpkin Patch eight women and 12 teenagers volunteer their time, and they have fun doing it. For most of the teens, it is their first job experience. They must have their food handlers test and pass the exams. Folks say they are the nicest teens ever. 

A bit of history about the Dairy Farm.  Gerrit and Gerry Van Ommering came from the Netherlands and he worked at the Foster Dairy in El Monte Valley. In 1960 when this land became available he purchased it for his own business venture and gave it his family name. Gerrit Van Ommering was well known for his yellow wooden shoes he enjoyed wearing to show off to visitors.  Gerry Van Ommering was well known for her homemade cookies she enjoyed sharing.

Brenda Van Ommering was from a farming family in Washington, she came to the San Diego area as a nanny and knew she wanted to become a farmer’s wife and raise her children in this setting. She married Dave and has lived and worked on the farm for the last 21 years. She seems to thrive on the volunteers and visitors that come to the family farm.

“When the children are crying because they don’t want to leave the Pumpkin Patch, I know they have had a good time,” she said.

Oma’s Pumpkin Patch is located at 14950 El Monte Rd. Lakeside, it is open Tuesday through Friday, 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. Saturdays they are open 10am until 7pm.  Children’s admission is $8 with one adult free, additional adult is $4. You may call 933-1806 for further information or log on to www.omaspumpkinpatch.com.

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