Not long after pumpkins are picked, Teresa Summers starts thinking about when to plant them again.
For most of the year, Summers Farm is focused on crops, but in the late summer and fall, it is also an agritourism destination.
“Agritourism has basically given my family the opportunity to stay in farming,” Summers said Thursday afternoon, standing on her farm outside Middletown.
She is a third generation farmer. Summers Farm primarily grows soybeans, wheat, corn, barley, hay, sunflowers and pumpkins.
And this time of year, the farm offers a corn maze, wagon rides, zip lining, giant slides, rubber duck races, barnyard animals, a playground and more. This marks its first tourism season at its new location.
Summers Farm previously operated on Butterfly Lane in Frederick for 25 years, about four miles from where it is now. The family decided to sell the land, according to Teresa, which led her to Middletown.
The tourism season at the new location kicked off with the Sunflower Festival in August. The Fall Festival began Sept. 17 and runs through Oct. 31.
On Thursday, families flocked to the Middletown farm for fall fun. Eighteen acres of pumpkins awaited them.
“It’s a beautiful day and we love pumpkins,” Ruby Bard, 25, said.
The Silver Spring resident picked over mini pumpkins with her boyfriend, Chaz Fitzsimons, 32, of Rockville. Orange and white pumpkins, smaller than a fist, waited in wooden boxes. The only thing brighter than the pumpkins was Fitzsimons’ bright orange baseball cap.
Behind the couple, fields of pumpkins grew attached to their vines.
Mia Stenzel and her cousin Jackson McDowell, both 2 years old, toddled around the patch under the watchful eyes of their grandparents and great-grandmother.
Mike Hammonds, of West Virginia, said they were looking for something fun to do with the grandchildren.
“They’ve been on everything,” he said.
As the grownups chatted, Mia dug her hands into the dirt. Jackson had already chosen a big pumpkin, but he wouldn’t have to carry it himself.
Across the field, Gaithersburg friends Keelin Solis and Marelyn Ramos and their children scampered up stacks of hay bales. It was their first time visiting.
Ramos’ daughter, Valeria Garcia, 3, and Solis’ son, Jeremiah Torres, 4, were eager to explore more of the farm. The four of them walked to the tug-o-war set-up.
Solis and Ramos grabbed either side of a thick rope and pulled, laughing with abandon. The children imitated them on a second rope. Valeria tumbled over. The mothers dropped their ropes and joined the children in their competition.
In another corner of the farm, Alyssa Lee, of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, pushed her 6-month-old daughter, Lyza Cober, in a stroller. Lee’s sister and boyfriend tried out the “farmer fastball.” Pitching lanes divided by netting and hay bales invited the pitcher to toss a ball at an image of a red barn.
“This is our first time,” Lee said. “[It’s] really good for kids.”
Guests pay an entrance fee, then choose from an array of activities, according to Teresa Summers, or simply pick pumpkins and pay for what they take home.
Families oohed and ahhed over goats and mini donkeys roaming in a pen. The animals pressed their faces against the fence, searching for treats.
Two-year-old Nora Kretzer admired a friendly goat. Its narrow snout pushed through a gap in the fence to nibble at the grass. The goat nearly tasted Nora’s shoes, too.
One donkey, much bigger than the goat, wandered over, surprising Nora. She giggled and scampered back to her parents.
“She really likes animals and likes being outside,” Nora’s mother, Jasmine Kretzer, said.
Jasmine and her husband, Brad, moved to Myersville recently. They are enjoying exploring the area, Jasmine said.
Seeing families on the farm brings joy to Teresa Summers.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s fun here.”
Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller