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Kent's special patch for the picking
A first visit to a pumpkin patch might bring to mind soft earth beneath the feet, the smell of hay from a distant tractor ride and acres upon acres of bright, orange globes, peeking behind leafy, green branches.
For children who can't speak yet or who are developmentally disabled, one can only guess at the excitement and wonder inspired by that very first visit to a pumpkin patch.
This kind of experience has happened repeatedly over the past 21 years that Carpinito Bros. has hosted their pumpkin patch in the Kent valley.
Many little ones and their families were out this past week searching for that, "Great Pumpkin." Among them were parents Miguel and Sarah Castillejo with their daughter, Liliana, 3, and son Mateo, 4 months.
Propped on a wagon with her brother, Liliana seemed over-stimulated and too distracted by all the pumpkins around her to smile pretty for her parents camera.
A small group of third- through sixth-graders visiting the patch appeared equally as amused. They were five kids from a special education class at Jenkins Creek Elementary School in Kent. Although they are all disabled and non-verbal, the smiles on their faces and their exuberance gave clues to their temperament.
"(For) some of the kids, this is their first time ever coming out, so they're really excited," said Rebecca Fry, their teacher.
The group of children explored the fields with their para-educators, a nurse, parents and an occupational therapist. They went on a hay ride and picked out pumpkins to carve back at their classroom. Even the students in wheelchairs were carried on the hay ride, so they could get the full experience.
"Trips like this are really important to them and their development," Fry said.
The sunny, early October weather has been providing the perfect backdrop to experiences like these at Carpinito Bros. Pumpkin Patch.
"It was a great harvest season, a lot of hot and dry weather and that's wonderful for growing pumpkins," said Mike Carpinito, company owner. "We grow 150 acres of pumpkins and squash, so it's a lot."
The farm started planting pumpkins in May and harvesting them toward the end of September. They have a variety of sizes and odd shapes, all the way up to 100 pound pumpkins.
"People come in wanting the biggest pumpkin and big pumpkins sell well," Carpinito said.
They also sell a lot of sugar pumpkins people use for baking pies and the recipe for pumpkin soup the farm's store offers is popular.
Carpinito's advice for keeping pumpkins fresh is: "Carve them later in the year; carve them close to Halloween."
He also suggests keeping pumpkins dry to help them last.
Their corn maze is also a big hit and so far no one has been completely lost.
"In years past, we've had people call the police," Carpinito said. "It hasn't happened this year."
So what becomes of the leftover pumpkins that nobody picks?
Carpinito Bros. take the leftover pumpkins and put them back into the ground as fertilizer, so their future crops have more nutrients.
For the growers, business has been great along with the long stretch of nice weather.
The pumpkin patch – on the corner of 277th Street and West Valley Highway in Kent – is open 9 a.m. to dusk daily until Halloween.
For more information visit, www.carpinito.com.
PHOTO BELOW: Para-educator Jeff Maloney and student Colton Rush, of Jenkins Creek Elementary, cart away their prized pumpkin at Carpinito Bros. Pumpkin Patch. Tracey Compton, Reporter