Oh my gourd-ness: The New River Farm fall event

Owner, David Tucker and his two daughters, Coco (left) and Ellee (right) stand proudly in front of their corn maze they’ve spent the summer preparing. Sep. 14, 2023
Owner, David Tucker and his two daughters, Coco (left) and Ellee (right) stand proudly in front of their corn maze they’ve spent the summer preparing. Sep. 14, 2023
Noelia Watkins

For one family-owned farm in Deep Gap, the arrival of the fall season provides for an exciting experience, not only for the Tucker family, the owners of the farm, but also for visitors from the surrounding areas.

The New River Farm off of Highway 421 has hosted their fall event, beginning on Sept. 16 and running through Oct. 31, for close to 12 years. The event includes a pumpkin patch, a corn maze and tram rides down to the New River and up the mountain to the Christmas tree farm. 

Owner David Tucker said they start preparing the fields for pumpkins and corn in May and start planting in June. 

His two daughters, Coco, 12, and Ellee, 8, help with preparations and drive the tram rides. Coco said she mows, pulls carts, helps with the booths and gives tours with her sister. 

“I’ve always been in agriculture, and I’m near to Boone. It’s a good use of the property, so we tried our fall activities out. It started out small and it’s evolved into a tradition,” Tucker said.

He added that often visitors haven’t been exposed to agriculture before, so seeing them interested in the process is very exciting.

Tucker worked with App State football and Max Renfro, a videographer and App State alum, in October 2021 to film a jersey release video in the corn maze. 

“I carved a pumpkin and put it on one of the guy’s head, and we filmed late into the night,” Tucker said. 

In addition to videos, the farm often has plenty of photography opportunities such as sorority group photos taken on the farm. The farm has also hosted several proposals, and the Tuckers usually hide the engagement ring in a pumpkin to add to the surprise element.

New River Farm tractor sits at the corn maze at sunset. Sep. 14th, 2023
(Sam Fleming)

Eventually, the Tucker family wants to add a covered picnic area where they can do more group-related events. They also plan on looking into doing wedding events.

 “When my girls get big enough to run it, they can help me expand what I do. They’re really good helpers around here,” Tucker said.

Ellee once carried 12 dozen pumpkins from the corn maze at the bottom of the hill to the Christmas trees at the top. 

“The people around me asked if I needed help, but I handled it,” she said. 

The farm currently has school groups come to the farm on Fridays as well.

As far as elementary school groups go, it’s not hard to keep them engaged. They tend to enjoy the pumpkins the most. The Pokémon pumpkin, a small, yellow heirloom, is popular among App State students, Tucker said.

The farm has 60 – 80 different types of pumpkins, and three types of corn. Tucker said the Jarrahdale pumpkin, an Australian heirloom, is the best for making pies since it is dense and sweet. Stick Boy Bread Company utilizes this pumpkin in their baked goods. 

“The peanut pumpkin is also a good eating pumpkin. It looks like it has peanuts on the outside because of the texture as it grows,” Tucker said. 

In addition to the crops, the farm has several animals.

Pumpkins overlooking the New River Family Farm corn maze at dusk. Sep. 14th, 2023.
(Sam Fleming)

“We have chickens and guinea fowls,” Coco said. “They’re hens from Africa and they’re usually gray, but they can also be purple, black and brown. They look a little like a zombie.”

If visitors are brave enough on tram tours, they can hike up the side of a hill with Coco and Ellee to a rock overhang to see a Native American trading post by the river. 

Upkeeping a farm is no easy feat. Tucker said it takes five hours to mow the fields every week, and they also clean up the creek and riverbanks.

While most fall festivals have flashy games, the Tucker family prefers to keep things on the simple side. 

“We try to make it relaxing, we have chairs down by the river and people come and bring picnics, take a nap in a chair or relax. It’s a stay-all-day kind of thing,” Tucker said. “It’s our little paradise.”

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  • T

    Teresa GreeneOct 12, 2023 at 6:38 am

    To the Tucker family, thank you for sharing your Paradise, keeing it simple, and reminding us how important it is to relax and spend time with family and friends.

  • A

    AlexOct 12, 2023 at 6:16 am

    Days/hours? How late in the season are they open?