For years, Hank and Lynne Kraszewski spent the fall months standing behind a small table covered with pumpkins on the side of the road where the new Parrish Art Museum now stands in Water Mill. Farmers by trade, the husband and wife sold their gourds, sometimes out of the back of a pickup truck, to South Fork travelers.In the mid-1990s, when the little plot of land they had come to love was sold, the couple was devastated.
“At the time, we thought the sky was falling,” Ms. Kraszewski laughed this week. She explained that in 1996, the Kraszewskis moved their pumpkin farm across the street to their current location, where they sold pumpkins grown there and, as before, on leased farmland on Head of Pond and Cobb roads. “It turns out that when we came over here, it was the best thing that ever happened to us—we had more land, and it was all ours.”
Seventeen years later, the family business on Montauk Highway has grown along with its crops. Currently, as many as 48 of about 420 acres of crops—spread out among the three Water Mill fields—are dedicated to the Kraszewskis’ annual pumpkin harvest.
The family business is finding new ways to continue growing—and this year opened a new building at Hank’s Pumpkintown featuring snacks and beverages for visitors.
According to Mr. Kraszewski, the idea of the 5,000-square-foot building was first proposed by Southampton Town, but the family embraced the idea. Hank’s Pumpkintown had several sheds for tools and supplies, and one used to sell food to customers. According to Mr. Kraszewski, the sheds had electricity running to them, and the town, which no longer liked the idea, made them deconstruct the sheds at the end of each season.
Three years ago, the family began working on a design for the permanent structure. “This has been our dream for three years,” Ms. Kraszewski said. “The town encouraged us to go this route, and I think it will be a good thing for us. It is still strange to not have to go to a basement or garage or another barn to get all my supplies, but as we get used to it things will be easier for everyone.”
The new concession area features homemade pies, hot drinks and a new candy apple station, where customers can watch as the candy apples are made. One of the main attractions, Ms. Kraszewski said, is the homemade doughnuts. People are always fascinated by the process, she said, and can watch through a glass partition as dough is dropped into oil, cooked and then packaged.
The family considers everything in the new building to be a “test run” this year, noting that the inside layout has changed from week to week. Both Mr. and Mrs. Kraszewski said it is about finding what works for them, and how things should best be laid out to flow better. While they are happy to be up and running, they hope to make further improvements for next year’s harvest season.
One idea is to have a homemade ice cream station, where the flavors will be determined by which crops are in season at the farms, including strawberries, apples, and of course, pumpkins. Another idea is to put in an apple cider station with an apple press to peel and cut apples on scene.
“The goal is to add value to the products we already raise,” Mr. Kraszewski said. “Adding pies and cider for our apples, and french fries for our potatoes. I want to add value.”
Even with the new building, many features of the Hank’s Pumpkintown have remained the same. There is a corn maze with a twist: five stations that need to be discovered, where maze-walkers dip a finger in paint (a different color is at each station) and can have their fortune read if they get all five fingers dipped.
In addition to traditional pumpkin picking, the farm also has playground-style climbing features, including a new piece of equipment—a combine slide made by the Kraszewskis’ son, Hank, this summer. After getting the idea from a farm in California, the youngest Kraszewski took out the inner part of a combine machine—a large tractor used to harvest grain—and put a slide down the middle. Mr. Kraszewski said he is particularly excited about the slide because it teaches kids about life on a farm: before sliding down, they can sit in the cab of the combine and feel what it is like to be at the helm of such a large piece of equipment.
Hank’s Pumpkintown is open seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. through 6 p.m. through October and is located at 240 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. More information is available at Hankspumpkintown.com.
“We try to keep everything farm-themed,” Mr. Kraszewski said. “Everything has something to do with agriculture, and we are proud of that. We are ready to go for the season.”