KINGSBURG – Dillon Morine may only be 10 years old but he’s become enough of a pumpkin expert to grow multiple varieties at his rural home outside of Kingsburg. Since Dillon’s pumpkin garden has been so prolific this year, he’s decided to open a pumpkin patch to the public.
“Before, we only grew 20 or 30 pumpkins but this year we used PVC pipe [to irrigate] and did 16 rows. We’re selling pumpkins to the community now and next year, we’re thinking about getting bigger,” Dillon said. “Instead of people having to go to Reedley, we have our pumpkin patch. We have free lemonade and popcorn and different kinds of pumpkins like the Marina Di Chioggias or our big gourds you can’t get in other places."
DM Farms is located at 393 N. 6th Ave., just south of the curve of Benecia and Sixth avenues near Abundant Harvest Organics. Visitors may purchase pumpkins and gourds or pet Sidney the rooster or the turkey, Turkey Lurkey, or the chickens on site. There are also free, pre-painted orange rocks available to decorate with jack-o-lantern faces.
Dillon first started growing pumpkins when his aunt Lea Peters Campbell shared some seeds with him in 2016. His first crop was sold to friends and family.
“My mom and I had a garden on the side of the house and we’d grow tomatoes. But when there was a drought, we didn’t have enough water and the plants kept drying out,” Dillon said.
His mother, Melody Morine, said her father-in-law, Dwayne Morine, helped by digging furrows for the garden this year. So with an irrigation trench dug and watering pipes connected to their well, Dillon said it was easier to water plants more efficiently.
“Dillon planted some squash plants, some peppers and tomatoes. He even grew a 35-pound watermelon. He just found a couple of plants at Home Depot and put them out here,” his mother said.
She showed one pumpkin that’s still growing in the garden where they’ve carved in a Thanksgiving greeting. As the pumpkin continues to grow, it will scar around the carving and make a unique offering for next year’s patch.
“We’ve been practicing our pumpkin scarring. You can scratch it while they’re still growing and it will scar up.”
Since this is Dillon’s third year in 4-H, he’s not only been learning about pumpkins, but about raising turkeys, chickens and pigs as well. He helped build the farm chicken coop and install fencing so the birds would have room to roam.
“My mom did most of the work but I put up the side panels and screwed on the vents in the top. I feed chickens and turkeys whenever they need food. They eat a lot so we get five bags of food and the chickens eat one and the turkeys eat four.”
This year, Dillion entered Henry the turkey and two chickens at the Fresno Fair.
“My golden-laced Wyandotte Lacey got second place and the other got utility,” he said of one of his chickens whose legs turned out to be darker than what’s considered standard for the breed. “The turkey is still at the Fair and he got second place reserve champion.”
He also entered three of his pumpkins in the junior exhibits and one in the monstrosities. Dillon earned first place and a best-of-show ribbon for his Marina Di Chioggia pumpkin and third place for his Long Island Cheese pumpkin. His Marina Di Chioggia/Turks Turban cross pumpkin also received first place in the monstrosities division.
When Dillon’s not working on the farm, he’s busy with schoolwork as a fourth grader at Central Valley Home School. There he’s also taking ballet and guitar lessons. He’s also on the Kingsburg Lions Pee Wee football team and helps his grandparents Pat and Dwayne Morine with their grape vineyards or walnut orchards that neighbor their farm.
“I get to steer the tractor. I’ll drive around while grandpa uses a chainsaw attached to a walnut picker to cut the branches.”
Dillon’s also just learned how to drive the farm quad so he can move the larger pumpkins around more easily.
While visitors come to the pumpkin patch, Dillon shares what he’s learning about taking care of the animals and from the research he’s does for 4-H.
“He knew a lot about horticulture before joining that group and he loves explaining stuff,” his mother said. “He loves talking with people about what he does and how he raises his animals. He loves his animals. They’re like his best friends and he’ll spend hours with them.”
Dillon says that farm life is different than city life.
“When you’re on a farm, it’s not like in town where you have everything close by. But it’s nice when you’re out in the country; you can have chickens and turkeys and stuff.”
Since he’s just turned 10, he’s still deciding where he’ll wind up when he’s a grown up.
“I like in-town city kind of, too. In-town jobs get good pay and there’s more jobs in town. But I think I want to live in the country because we have more space to do stuff and drive off-road vehicles.”
The DM Farms pumpkin patch will stay open until the end of October, or until they run out of pumpkins. In the meantime, plans are already brewing for next year’s event.
“For next year, we’re looking at other pumpkin varieties and we’ll have to put in more water lines,” Morine said.