For lots of New Orleanians, there’s nothing quite like the arrival of October. The temperatures and humidity finally start dropping, and while it may not feel quite like “fall” the way most people imagine it, that doesn’t stop us from costume planning and seeking out the perfect pumpkin for our front porch, and Montz pumpkin patch in St. Charles Parish has over 15 acres of land dedicated to helping local children find just the right jack-o’-lantern candidate.
Unfortunately, our rainy climate means that pumpkins don’t grow very well here. The result is that most local “pumpkin patches” are forced to get their annual crop from the same sources as your local grocery store. Although Montz Pumpkin Patch technically is no exception to this rule, the experience at this pumpkin patch attempts to show kids the nuts and bolts of a working farm located only about 45 minutes away from New Orleans.
Montz Pumpkin Patch is also the site of Perilloux Farms, which is run by Timmy Perilloux – a frequent face at the Crescent City Farmer’s Market and a regular supplier to many local restaurants, most notably Donald Link’s Cochon. Perilloux has farmed since 1977, but he didn’t do so full-time until 1997, when he retired from a job at an oil terminal. His pumpkin patch began with a visiting Girl Scout troupe and a wagon. It grew quickly, however, and has been a mainstay for over 30 years with around 10,000 children finding their perfect pumpkin every October.
The admission gets everyone a hayride on a large tractor trailer out to the 15 acres where Perilloux has both traditional orange pumpkins (sourced mainly from New Mexico) as well as “Creole” pumpkins. These special pumpkins – also called “cow” pumpkins by early Louisiana farmers that grew them after seeing how much the cows liked eating them – are the only variety of pumpkin that grow here without rotting in our moist soil. They range from a white to a creamy pale orange color with shapes varying from the more traditional round to gourd-like. The Creole pumpkins haven’t only become increasingly popular with visitors over the years, Perilloux also sells them to restaurants looking to use them in soups and breads.
The hay ride out to the patch takes only a few minutes, but along the way you see the vegetables that Perilloux will bring to the Crescent City Farmer’s Market most Tuesdays (Uptown), Wednesdays (the Bywater) and Fridays (Bucktown). Everyone gets plenty of time to wander around and find the perfect specimen for their jack-o’-lantern, and upon returning to the farm, water troughs and brushes await children eager to clean the dirt off their pumpkins and get them ready to take home. Snacks and a few crafts are for sale, but the focus of this pumpkin patch is showing kids the importance of farming as well as supporting your local farmers.
While many local pumpkin patches make up for the lack of growing pumpkins with other activities and attractions (like bobbing for apples, photo booths and craft fairs), Perilloux’s Montz patch is still a structured enough experience to feel like an event, but one that gives kids a lot of freedom to wander outdoors and see where their pumpkins – and perhaps some of their food – come from. Perilloux welcomes school groups (by appointment) during the week, and families can visit every weekend in October.
Just the Facts …
Montz Pumpkin Farm
17834 River Road, Montz
Admission: $7 per person (includes pumpkin and hayride)
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. during weekends in October (hayride leaves every hour on the hour); weekday visits and school groups by appointment only