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Halloween best time for pumpkin patch tours

If you’ve run out of ways to pick out the perfect pumpkin, andthe routine trip to the market or the grocery store has becomemundane, there’s a different kind of adventure just an hour’s driveaway in Collins – Mitchell Farms.

The big time of year for Mitchell Farms traditionally isHalloween, when they take people for tours of the farm and thepumpkin patches. And at the end visitors are allowed to pick apumpkin out of the harvest to take home for the season.

Church tours, school groups, families and people of all agesmake the trip, Jo Lynn Mitchell said, and they come from allaround. Some people even have birthday parties and weddingreceptions on the grounds.

“I guess the most fulfilling thing is seeing the children have agood time,” she said. “And watching the parents, because we try togive them an atmosphere where they can feel at home.”

But most homes don’t have THIS much to do. There is a hay balemaze and a sudan grass maze for children of all ages to find theirway through, a wagon tour of everything from wild hog traps tohistoric cabins to growing blueberries, peanuts, sunflowers and ofcourse, pumpkins.

Mitchell Farms is open for pumpkin patch tours until Nov. 6, allday Saturday, Sunday after church, and on Monday through Friday,with group tours by reservation only.

Recently the seniors class from Monticello Baptist Church madethe trip.

Church leaders set it up as a secret destination trip, so thegroup didn’t know where they were going before they got there. Theywere excited to see where they had ended up.

“This is exciting because this is lost to modern-day children,”said Don Fava. “They need to see how we grew up.”

Meanwhile, Jo Lynn Mitchell’s mother-in-law, Nelda, tells thestory of the Don’t Post Office, which was born when they put a postoffice in a country store in the Collins area. When the postmasterhad to put the name of the community on the application, he put”don’t,” because “it don’t have a name.”

The powers that be at the U.S. Postal Service named the postoffice, “Don’t,” and it is recreated as a ticket booth at MitchellFarms.

And another exciting attraction that kept Bogue Chitto’s DavisHart, 6, and his brother Marshall Hart, 3, occupied for a while wasthe Goat Palace, where three regular goats and a soon-to-be mothergoat live in comfort with swinging bridges, a three-story set up,furniture and satellite television.

“They’ll eat right out of your hands,” said Barbara Harris, whoworks in the gift shop as she sold the boys some goat food.

The wagon ride around the farm lasts about 20 minutes, and therest of the tour can take up to three hours, depending on how longpeople want to spend looking at all the sights.

And then comes the pumpkin picking. Real pumpkin patches don’tlook like the ones depicted on Charlie Brown specials, Mitchellexplained, so farm workers harvest the pumpkins and bring them upto the main part of the farm where they rest in a field next to theGoat Palace, and in front of the U-Pick Market, where visitors canpick their own butterbeans, blueberries, tomatoes, okra andpeas.

Mitchell said the farm is not just there to make money for thefamily and to provide seasonal fun for tourists, but she and herhusband Don have found it a good way to teach their three childrensome valuable lessons.

“They’re learning to manage money and deal with the public,” shesaid. “There are days they fuss about working, because we’re verybusy in the summer, but they love growing up on the farm.”

She said she is glad she came up with the idea for the farmtours and U-Pick garden, because it’s given her a life very fewpeople get to have.

“There are a lot of advantages,” she said. “Everyone can’t workwith their family. I work with my in-laws and we all love eachother.”

Anyone interested in more information about Mitchell Farms or tomake reservations for the fall tour is invited to call 601-765-8609or 601-765-8033.