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Local Farmers Import Pumpkins From Out of State

Pumpkin farmers have been forced to look out of state the make sure they have enough vegetables for the season after a soggy summer dampened prospects for a fruitful fall.

Dan Schoonmaker, a partner at Saunderskill Farms in the Hudson Valley, said that for the first time the farm is importing about 1,000 pumpkins from out of state to compensate for those lost when wet weather wiped out about 40 acres of crops this summer.

"We knew that we would not have pumpkins," he said, "and we just decided at that point to try to look around to find some, and between us and our neighbor, we located some in Massachusetts."

Soon after Tropical Storm Irene soaked his farmland in late August, Schoonmaker said the farm decided to import pumpkins from elsewhere.

He said he thinks the farm will make back must of what it spent on pumpkins. Other fall activities like hay rides and items like flowers and baked goods also help generate revenue for the farm.

Some farms in New Jersey were hit hard, too.

Marsha Demarest, of Demarest Farms in Hillsdale, N.J., said she lost six acres of pumpkins.

Demarest decided to import about 60 large bins of pumpkins, three times a week, from farms in Michigan. She's hoping that will be enough to accommodate pumpkin-picking visitors and school groups.

"It's a very rare thing," she said. "I've been in business with my husband for 42 years. This is our 125th proud family farm tradition anniversary, and it's the first time that this has happened, that I can remember."

Despite their losses, both Schoonmaker and Demarest said business has been good this year — thanks in part to a recent spate of warm weather.