Story by Tina Wagner
As Southern Marylanders settle into fall with crisp air and the light of the harvest moon enveloping them, the area's many pumpkin farms beckon families to come pick a pumpkin, enjoy a hayride, weave through a corn maze and celebrate the season.
"Spider Hall Farm is nestled on 362 acres; it is one of the few remaining working farms of its size in Calvert County," says owner Susan Cox, who with her husband David, purchased the farm in 2004. The farm produces wheat, barley, corn, pumpkins, soybeans, and tobacco. It welcomes visitors from Southern Maryland to its eight-acre corn maze, designed by Cox daughter, Catherine. "This year's maze is made up of a spider and web design, sure to challenge everyone who enters it," Cox says. Families can also pick their own pumpkin, take a hayride and more. Starting in 2010, Spider Hall Farm will begin offering field trips to schools and organizations with its Our Friends in the Classroom program, designed to give students a hands-on agricultural opportunity.
Nearby in Waldorf, Cedar Hill Farm owners Maryland Senator Mac Middleton and his wife, Joan, are preparing their farm for their October open house. Owned by the Middleton family since the 1600s, Cedar Hill Farm spreads over 200 acres and produces pumpkins, squash, hay and beef cattle. This fall the Middleton's have promised a harvest that will yield pumpkins as far as the eye can see and over 500 mums consisting of five varieties. There is a professionally cut maze and pick your own sweet corn, okra, tomatoes, green peppers, broccoli, green beans and lima beans. When all the pickin' is done, visitors climb aboard for a Saturday hayride with the beautiful farm as the backdrop.
Cyndi Ward, a pre-kindergarten teacher at St. Peter's School in Waldorf, finds Bowles Farm in St. Mary's County a great fall outing for her students each year. "I enjoy taking my Pre-K class to Bowles Farm because the farm is very child friendly," she says. Owned by Tommy and Tina Bowles and located in Clements in St. Mary's County, it is marketed as Southern Maryland's largest cornfield maze; the Bowles' stop at nothing to make sure their mazes are amazing for sure. Past mazes have featured Blackistone Lighthouse, a tribute to Cal Ripken, Jr. and the University of Maryland, "Fear the Turtle" logo. This year's maze is a puzzle carved into 15 acres of perfectly sculpted cornstalks. The maze is designed to be both fun to navigate through and an education about the importance of local agriculture. "Ten stations corresponding to 10 questions will be posted on the correct pathway out of the maze. Students will be instructed to turn left or right according to their answers to the agricultural questions posed to them on the signs in the maze. Correct answers will lead them through the pathways to the only exit," the Bowles' explain. Besides the maze, Bowles farm also offers a petting zoo, family fun days, and pumpkins ripe for the pickin' and special events including a kid's bike rodeo, Halloween costume contest and a Pumpkin Fall Festival.
Southern Maryland's many farms welcome visitors to pick a pumpkin, hop on a hayride and learn about the rich history of Southern Maryland agriculture.
Area Pumpkin Farms
Spider Hall Farm
3915 Hallowing Point Rd.
Middleton's Cedar Hill Farm
5190 Leonardtown Rd.
6932 Serenity Farm Rd.
301-399-0491 or 301-399-1634
12850 Shlagel Rd.
5235 Bryantown Rd.
St. Mary's County
Bowles Farms 22880 Budds Creek Rd. Clements, 301-475-2139
Forrest Hall Farm
39136 Avie Ln. Mechanicsville
T and A Farm
18281 Saint Jerome's Neck Rd.
Bowles Corn Maze Celebrates 10th year!
In 1991 when Barbara and I first started Southern Maryland-This is Living, we visited Bowles Corn Maze for a tour and a photo. We were delighted to meet Tommy and Tina Bowles and see the passion that had for the business they were launching.
And now nine years later the passion continues. Since that first year, they have expanded the programs, services and facilities they offer. They are still combining their love of farming with their outreach and agriculture education for children, but now they reach many more children! Each year has brought something new including a large food and refreshment building, serving a great selection of delicious foods, cooked on-site; a paved track for children's barrel, tractor and wagon rides; a beautiful covered picnic area; an expanded pumpkin patch; and a larger petting zoo, and much more.
While so much as changed since their first maze, the most important aspect remains the same- the pure, down-on-the farm family fun that they offer at an affordable price. They are still committed to supporting the community and host several special events a year in which the profits go directly back to local charitable organizations. And they still are a shining example of the American spirit where family, working hard and giving back, is a way a life.
The Bowles Farms' Corn Maze is open through October 31st and is located at 22880 Budds Creek Road, Clements, MD. Call 301-475-2139 for more information or visit their website at www.bowlesfarms.com.
-Vickie Kite Milburn