Gust Pumpkin Farm to open early for 30th season
Family farm will be open on Labor Day
Thirty years ago, Terese Gust, along with her husband Dan and their young sons, went for a winter visit to her Uncle John's house.
"This story really brings tears to my eyes, he is such a great old guy," said Mrs. Gust as she readied to open up her home to the world for another autumn season.
"Uncle John got out a coffee can, and put his hand in the can," Mrs. Gust remembered. "And he said, 'Boys, hold out your hands.' Then he gave each of the boys a few pumpkin seeds and said 'You plant yourself some pumpkins,' and he told me "These boys need some work to do!'"
That spring they planted those seeds in a garden, and that’s how it all got started. Today, after adding about one acre every year, the Gust farm now grows thirty acres of pumpkins.
Terese and Dan Gust at their pumpkin farm
"The first few years, we didn’t have that many cars, of course," Mrs. Gust said. "It was only a little garden, we put a few pumpkins by the curb and the boys sold them. It just kind of grew. My husband says it's a 'God thing,' because we could never have planned it out this way."
In addition to growing pumpkins, the Gusts have a full working farm that is about 1,000 acres in size, with each of the four sons farming 40 acres of their own.
"All of our four sons live within a mile, they each farm 40 acres," the Michigan native said. "We tell them to keep their day jobs though, because farming is so up and down. So they all have jobs off the farm too, but they’re all farm-related."
When the farm opens up to the public this autumn, Nate will be running the bakery, Jake is the flower guy, Dave has the mums, and Joe is in charge of hay. The sons are all married, now with children, and every family member is part of the fun.
"The wives work in the check-out with me," Mrs Gust explained. "I've got eleven grand kids, and they’re big enough to help now, so this year they'll be helping me out picking pumpkins."
The Gusts decided to open their family farm on Labor Day this year, the earliest they have ever opened. The pumpkin farm will then be open 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. every day through November 1, 2020.
"The pumpkins are ready early, and people have been calling, so we said why not just open up if there's else nothing going on on Labor Day," Mrs. Gust said. "People need to get outside into nature and have some fun!"
There is a thirty-acre pumpkin patch, three acres of you-pick flowers, a sunflower field that was open over the summer with a trail through it, fresh produce, apples, the barns will be open with cows, sheep, bunnies, about 20 goats, chickens, lambs, and more. Nate will be frying up fresh donuts in the donut barn, baking pumpkin cookies, and serving caramel apples and other autumn sweets including apple fritters brought in from The Next Sweet Thing bakery in Mayberry.
"The grand kids are selling feed cups this year, a dollar apiece, to feed the cows and goats," their proud grandmother shared. "The cows will eat right out of your hand. It is a little bit sloppy. But the cows are so friendly, they're just like giant puppies, they just stand there and want to be petted. They’ve been bottle fed as babies, so they are so friendly and really are awfully cute."
Blondie and Buttercup and the other ten cows seem to agree with that sentiment, and encourage everyone to come out and see for themselves.
"It's so much fun for the families to be with the animals, I think that’s what they enjoy most," Mrs. Gust continued. "And they can all run around here, there is a play area with bales out in the field, they are very far apart for so there is plenty of room. It’s all-natural fun."
Aside from all the wonderful animals, new this year is soft ice cream, apple cider slushies, and a decorated '47 pickup for family picture-taking. And, you never know, visitors may even run into Uncle John.
"He's still doing good. He's such a good old farmer, he worked hard all his life, " Mrs. Gust shared. "Uncle John comes to visit us and he just shakes his head, because he thinks it's so funny that so many people are coming. He gave us those seeds, and the boys said 'We can do that!' I think growing pumpkins was the way to go, looking back. Uncle John got us started, and we're so thankful."
For those who are more than ready for a little bit of fall fun, there are signs posted near Pacesetter Park (the farm is two miles north of Pacesetter), and the address to search in Google maps is: 13639 Mulberry Rd, Ottawa Lake, MI 49267
"I feel like all these people are guests at our home," Mrs. Gust added. "I just want people to smile and have a good time. I want them to feel like it was worth it to come out here. I am always hoping that they're happy they came."
For more on the Gust family farm:
-Follow the Gust Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Gust-Brothers-Pumpkin-Farm
-Visit the Gust Pumpkin Farm official site: www.gustbrothers.com
The Gust boys back in the '90s.
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