Moira Lynn Cromwell, 21 months old, chooses a “mellow yellow” pumpkin to take home.  Maria Skillings / Times Record.

Bowdoin farmers found ways to work around Maine’s summer drought to produce a bountiful crop of apples and pumpkins this year.

Rocky Ridge Orchard co-owner Chris Sprague said the apple trees are planted in clay-based soil that “holds the water quite well.”

With less rain this year, Sprague said, the apples are smaller but still very sweet.

Growing over 60 types of pumpkins and gourds, Sprague said without his irrigation system, there wouldn’t have been any pumpkins to sell this year.

On Friday afternoon Sprague gave The Times Record a tour of his pumpkin display while explaining the different types of “shells” or skins that pumpkins have.

He said some pumpkins like the “mellow yellow” have a softer shell, making them more vulnerable to the elements, while others, like the “knucklehead” pumpkin, have a hard exterior.  Sprague said the pumpkins with a harder shell can last you “until next spring.”


Co-Owner of Rocky Ridge Orchard Chris Sprague. Maria Skillings / Times Record.

With just six people caring for the farm, Sprague said it’s important to keep it “small enough for our family to run.”

He said Rocky Ridge Orchard might not have large attractions such as corn mazes, but they do offer other fun elements, including swings in their barn and a spooky “Halloween room” filled with goblins and ghouls.

Visitors also can enjoy outdoor dining at the orchard’s bakery and restaurant, which offers freshly baked doughnuts and homemade sandwiches. Also, inside the bakery, guests can purchase locally sourced products such as maple syrup, greeting cards and milk from Smiling Hill Farm.

In addition to family fun, Sprague teams up with local schools in Woolwich, Bath and Bowdoin each fall, offering hayrides and a chance for students to take home a pumpkin of their choice.

Annett Hoxon of Bowdoin fills up a wagon full of gourds. Maria Skillings / Times Record.

Coming to Rocky Ridge for the last 22 years, Bowdoin resident Annette Hoxon admitted she was back for the second day in a row.  She said she needed more gourds and pumpkins for a fall display she was building in her home.

Moira Lynn Cromwell and her grandmother Jennifer Lynn Cromwell search for the best pumpkin. Maria Skillings / Times Record.

Grandmother Jennifer Lynn Cromwell said her goal was to find a pumpkin big enough to hollow out for her granddaughter, Moira, to sit in. She did the same thing last year, when Moira was half the size.

Expecting thousands of visitors this season, Sprague said his family works hard and takes pride in the orchard.

Whether it’s the food or the produce, he said, “it’s all about freshness.”

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