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Whether it’s feeding the goats, making corn angels in the corn pit or picking out a pumpkin, an expanded back playground at Deans Farm Market is a popular destination for families and school groups.
“We have probably got record-breaking numbers so far this year,” said Courtney Sharp, farm event coordinator/educator. “We have had a great start, especially with the heat that we have had. They have pushed through the heat. People love to come to the farm even when it’s hot outside.”
The playground has attracted school groups and church groups from many surrounding areas including Lenoir, Wake, Wayne, Johnson, Pitt, Edgecombe and Nash counties.
Sharp is a licensed certified teacher with a master’s degree in education, and she tries to tie in literature as much as possible with the farm.
“We do an indoor agriculture classroom where we teach children about the life cycle of the pumpkin, where we read the books,” Sharp said. “They get to do a craft that they can take home with them. That is definitely a favorite especially among the public schools because they like to tie in to the curriculum.”
But for many, the big attraction is the broad variety of activities arrayed on the playground.
“They love the corn pit. That is probably the most favorite, also the big jump pad, the slide and the animals,” Sharp said.
Gwendolyn King, site director and lead teacher at Hunt High School’s day care, took seven day care children and 13 high school interns.
“They enjoy it. We come every year,” King said. “Children have lots of fun here. We eat lunch here. They get a pumpkin, and they just love it.”
Shana Langston went to the farm with daughter Savy Langston, a student at Community Christian School.
“We love it. This is actually our second time,” Langston said. “We usually try to come out at least a couple of times a year. They just get a chance to come out here and run around and get their wiggles out and see the animals and play and do the maze. It’s an awesome thing for them to come out here and do. It’s a lot for then to come do. The kids love it.”
Jessica Dean, with Hunt’s day care, came along on a field trip with her daughter.
“She is having a blast,” Dean said. “They have really expanded it. I think it is a really good thing for Wilson. My older daughter is 6, and she would have just as much fun as the 3-year-old. I think it is a really good family fun thing. They do a really good job of activities. It is really spread out and that’s good.”
Sharp said the playground has expanded its gem mining operation, added a barnyard ball (basketball) game and farmtastic foosball.
All of the attendees take a hayride out to the playground through the farm fields.
The playground is open until Oct. 27. On the last weekend, Oct. 26 and 27, the farm will have trick or treat around the farm. Local businesses are coming in and they will be different trick-or-treat stations.
The cost is $10 per person, and that includes the hay ride, playground and a pumpkin for each person.
“We are amazed at the support that we are getting this year,” Sharp said. “I just want to thank everybody for the support that we have received. We are definitely blessed to be in the community we are in and to receive the support from everyone.”