It's October, and for farms such as Baugher's Orchard, in Westminster, pumpkins and apples are ready to be harvested — and it seems many people are interested in that process.
"This time of year is such a busy time," said Marjorie Baugher, owner of the orchard off Route 140. "So many people want to be out. We had eight wagons running constantly (last) weekend for people."
Those wagons run during the week, too, as the orchard hosts school groups from all around the area. An average of two or three tours are conducted each day during the week, according to Lynn Forman, a fourth-generation Baugher family member, and tour guide.
"I do know the farm pretty well," Forman said. "I raised my kids here, worked here, played here."
Her tours are peppered with little tidbits of family, and local, history — often because the two are one in the same.
"There's a lot of stories I usually share," she said. "We stop at the farm house from the early 1900s, where my great grandparents lived. My parents are there now."
This is the third year Baugher's has offered educational tours. Groups can visit the pumpkin patch or apple orchard via a hay ride. Along the way, they also learn about the importance of honeybees, rotating crops and trimming crops. Each student can pick one pumpkin or four apples to take home.
"It was really nice, and everybody was so friendly," said Danielle Fitchett, who on Oct. 17 accompanied her daughter, Candice, 5, on a school trip from Mary Ann Winterling Elementary School, in Baltimore. "I liked the history about the farm."
"It was really hard," said Candice Fitchett, a kindergartner at Mary Ann, of picking apples. "I had to pull with two hands."
Their tour continued at the market, where youngsters learned how fruit is "graded," visited a cold storage area and toured the market.
A free petting farm allowed the guests to mingle with a variety of animals including a llama, donkey, peacocks, pigs and more.
"Everybody gets to see what we do," said Cyndy Howes, market manager. "It's a great learning experience. We show them from start to finish."
The same philosophy holds true at Buppert's Doran's Chance Farm Inc. in Marriottsville.
For the last 25 years, Buppert's has taken people on a hay ride to the pumpkin patch for both fun and educational reasons.
"I wanted to educate people and children where their food came from," Buppert said. "We're a small family farm, and I like to focus on that. We grow food. We grow produce for people to come and purchase."
While education is the main focus, the rides to the pumpkin patch also include a chance to go through Buppert's corn maze. People can also feed the farm's Pygmy goats with free food located in the market.
At Baugher's, tour groups end with everyone enjoying a glass of cider and a cookie.
"They've been looking forward to it," said Jody Fleury, a kindergarten teacher at Mary Ann. "They were very excited to see things we've been talking about in class."
"This was well put together," said Torrin Stephens, who was with his daughter, Shayla, 6, a first-grader at Mary Ann. "I didn't get the cookie, but the cider was nice."
Baugher's Orchard is located at 1015 Baugher Road, Westminster. The orchard is hosting its fall harvest festival on Saturdays and Sundays in October, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information about tours, call 410-984-4649, or email email@example.com. Buppert's Doran's Chance farm is located at 6914 Ridge Road, Marriottsville. Call 410-795-6815.