Halloween is just around the corner and the Boccali family is continuing the tradition of selling pumpkins at their pumpkin patch behind the family restaurant in Ojai.
The tradition began in 1976 at DeWayne and Marilyn Boccali’s farm in the Upper Ojai Valley. Approximately three acres of pumpkins, squash, gourds and Indian corn are grown and transported to the family’s restaurant on the east end of Ojai. Depending on the size of the pumpkin, prices range from $1 to $50.
“I wanted to grow something besides an orchard and thought it was a neat thing to do,” DeWayne said.
“Generations of Ojai families have taken their annual family photos at the patch and it has been an annual field trip for the Ojai Valley schools as well.”
Visitors to the patch will notice something missing this year: the daytime hayride and nighttime Haunted Hayrides that began 13 years ago. DeWayne said that hundreds of visitors would enjoy the Haunted Hayride, which featured intricate sets and effects along with zombies and monsters. A campfire would also entertain visitors with stories or acoustic musical performances.
“People always looked forward to it,” DeWayne said, “The Haunted Hayride has become an annual tradition for families in the Ojai community and beyond for a night of scary fun.”
DeWayne said that the two tractor trailers that were used for the hayrides were destroyed during the Thomas Fire in the early hours on Dec. 5, along with fences, avocado trees, irrigation systems and corrals. DeWayne saved his barn, winery and home by placing sprinklers on the roofs to prevent them from being engulfed in flames.
“So many things needed to be repaired, it was overwhelming,” DeWayne said. “In June, the trailers were inspected by a local expert and deemed beyond salvageable. We began looking for replacements but our trailers were a niche item and not readily available in the local area.”
Due to the water allocation in Ojai, DeWayne said he didn’t have enough water to pre-irrigate the pumpkins this year and devised a strategy to have some grow without using as much water. As far as the hayride, plans are already in the works for its return next year.
“I’ve been farming for 50 years,” he said. “I would love for it to rain. We need some better-than-average rainfall this season to help get the agricultural community in the valley back up to speed.”
Boccali Ranch Pumpkin Patch is located behind Boccali’s Restaurant, located at 3277 E. Ojai Ave. Pumpkins will be available for purchase seven days a week through Halloween from 10 a.m. to dusk. For more information, visit boccalis.com/pumpkinpatch or the Facebook page.