AUBURN, Ind. (AP) — If there is a “right” way to grow pumpkins, maybe Steve and Marcia Provines have discovered it.
The crops don’t lie.
The Provineses operate Azzitshudbe Farm at 2347 C.R. 38, just northwest of Auburn, a vast plot of farmland that this time of year is known locally for the abundance of bright-orange pumpkins that crowd the lawn around the family home right off the roadway. Down the quiet street is a simple, handmade sign that reads “pumpkins,” and are there ever pumpkins.
This year’s crop is strong in quantity and quality, with Steve Provines saying he harvested 8 to 10 pickup truck loads and one trailer load of pumpkins this season, a crop he estimates at well over 1,000. The Provines display for-sale pumpkins — each dipped in bleach water to preserve it and standing upright for proper viewing — in all shapes, sizes and shades of orange.
It’s a far cry from last year, when Steve said he planted twice in excessively dry ground and the crop just didn’t grow during the summer drought. The few pumpkins that did grow that year were killed by a September frost. The conditions left the Provineses with a batch of pumpkins too small to warrant a sale, so they opened it to friends and family to take.
“It was not a good year,” Marcia Provines told The Star .
But that’s okay for the couple, who use the revenue from pumpkin sales to supplement their full-time income: Steve works with the DeKalb County Highway Department full-time, and Marcia holds down two part-time jobs as a teaching aide and as director of the DeKalb County Council on Pregnancy.
Though farming is part-time work, it’s a full-time passion, they say.
Azzitshudbe Farm sits on 42 acres of rolling land, with a large barn, roaming chickens, grazing cattle, curious cats and, now, a yard full of pumpkins. The name Azzitshudbe - sound it out - was Steve’s creation. Steve said he wanted a unique name, and one that tells his story of all-natural farming without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The Provines’ cows are all grass-fed, the chickens are free-range, and the pumpkins grow on land naturally fertilized by the cows.
“As it should be,” said Steve.
The farm has been in the Provines family since 1954, when Steve’s parents moved in and built a modest home on a lonely country road. They’ve since sold down some acreage, and now Steve and Marcia own 42 acres. Just two were dedicated to pumpkins this year, Steve said.
The Provines have been growing crops of pumpkins since 1996, and after hit-and-miss early years, the crops have been relatively steady, they said. This season’s total actually was not one of the Provines’ bigger crops.
Steve is the pumpkin-grower, Marcia offers, and while the duo will have friends or relatives occasionally stop by to lend a hand during the growing season, it’s largely Steve who plants the pumpkins the first week of June, tills out the weeds during the dog days of summer and harvests the pumpkins come September.
“You’ve got to know what you’re doing,” said Steve.
The Provineses sell their pumpkins for $3 to $12, depending on size. A $12 version can weigh north of 65 pounds, they said.