UP CLOSE: How Peta and James created Rutland Pumpkins to add to their meaty business

  Posted: 14.09.20 at 10:44 by The Editor

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An established Rutland farmer and his 'city girl' fiancee have launched a pumpkin patch, which, of course will be open for trading in time for Halloween.

In the first of an occasional series of features branded 'Up Close', Peta Kilian tells Oakham Nub News how Rutland Pumpkins came about.

Peta said: "This is our first year as pumpkin farmers! James [McCartney] has been farming livestock in Rutland for over ten years and is a third-generation farmer here.

"James and I got engaged in February, by own admission, I am a city girl through and through, but since meeting James I have really wanted to be able to contribute to the farm and the rural economy."

James is the 'current custodian' of Raddleman's, a supplier of free range meats, based at Flitteriss Park Farm, Braunston. The MacCartney family have been farming this 13th century deer park using traditional methods since the 1930’s.

Peta said: "I usually split my time between London and Rutland, where I work in the insurance industry. James and I started exploring ideas to diversify the farm in 2019, trying to find projects that I could help to implement and run: we explored launching a wedding venue, a glamping site and a pumpkin patch!

"Then 2020 happened - and as of March I have been based in Rutland full time, working remotely in my full-time role. This gave us more time to start putting the wheels in motion to launch a pumpkin patch on James' farm.

"In May this year we planted 8,000 pumpkin seeds on 2 acres of land, adjacent to James' sister Abigail's grain, feedstuff and soil analysis lab.

"This is an incredibly unique site, located so near to the areas of Uppingham and Oakham, as well as offering quick access from areas such as Stamford, Bourne, Corby and Leicester.

"We will be opening our doors on 17th October 2020, two weeks before Halloween and just in time for half-term!"

Peta continued: "Pick Your Own pumpkin patches have been steadily rising in popularity across the country, but we noticed a gap in the market in Rutland - as there were no resident pick your own pumpkin patches located here! Rutland really is a unique and special place, not least because it is the smallest county, it now has a pick your own pumpkin patch too!

"We also think it is special-timing, given how unusual 2020 has been, having more family-friendly activities on the doorstep of Rutland residents can only be a good thing, especially one where it will be simple and straightforward to socially distance, given that all of the activities will be located outside."

The couple plan a range of other activities to make for a good, family trip out, including a bale maze and tower, for little ones to explore and climb.

Peta said: "We are in collaboration with local legend Lizzie Rees of Shoot It Momma Photography who will be on hand to take festive, autumnal family photographs at Rutland Pumpkins. And newly launched local ice-cream makers from The Waffle Bowl are making a special batch of ice-cream using pumpkins from our patch.

"We are also in discussions with local face painters and story-tellers to join in on the activities. There will be delicious food on offer from James' farm and will have freshly ground coffee and sweet treats on offer."

The farm will offer six pumpkins this year of varying sizes and colours.

Peta said: "There's the minature orange Jill Be Little's, small white Casperitas - both delicious roasted, we have knobbly and warty knucklehead pumpkins, which are great for Halloween festivities and traditional carving varieties like the Wicked pumpkin and the large Early King (which can reach 10-12 kilograms in weight!).

"We are also keeping an eye on our resident Polar Bear variety (extra-large and white), although they aren't quite of extra-large proportions yet and we are really hoping they have a growth spurt!"

It all adds to a long-established and diverse business, since James also has 600 breeding sheep and 150 head of cattle.

Peta continued: "He will be cooking up meat from the farm to be served to visitors on site at the pumpkin patch. James' food offering Raddleman's is usually located at two farmers markets in London during the week, and we visit country-wide food festivals over the summer, but now see the pumpkin patch as a good opportunity to bring James' delicious food closer to home.

"We will have slow cooked and barbecued lamb burgers for sale and the smell really is mouth-watering! Abigail James' sister has kindly let us locate our pumpkin patch adjacent to her business LiveLab which does grain, feedstuff and soil analysis for the merchanting and brokering industries."

As Nub News previously reported , Abigail also launched the Flour Lab to address the flour shortage nationwide as people chose to venture into daily baking routines to keep entertained during lockdown!

Peta added: "As a relatively new resident in the Rutland area, I am looking to make connections and friends nearby. I've been amazed by the power of social media - you (Nub News) found me on there and our resident photographer Lizze Rees, to whom we must credit these amazing photos of pumpkins, got in touch via Instagram. It is also how we have come to collaborate with The Waffle Bowl on their roasted pumpkin ice-cream."

*If you have a good story to tell to feature in a future Up Close, please email details to [email protected] .

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