Lance and Cathy inherited the farm, which has been in the Lannom family for more than a century, from Lances great uncle, Earl Lannom, who gave them the place before his death in 2008 at 91.
This past autumn, the inaugural edition of the maze and pumpkin patch attracted approximately 3,000 tourists from Wilson County and beyond. The idea sprang from Cathys fertile mind.
There was no close pumpkin patches after Comers (Plant Farm) closed. We loved getting out on the farm as a family. When we inherited the farm, we wanted to do something productive with it, she said.
It just made sense, Lance said. We were in a good location between Lebanon, Nashville, Murfreesboro and Mt. Juliet. Nobody else has one. It just clicked right off the bat. Being raised on a dairy farm, it was a great opportunity to teach our children about farming and good work ethics.
Ive always wanted my kids to have a share of what I had. This pretty much brought our family together working on the farm every night, even down to Presley planting seeds and pumpkins, Lance said.
Cathy, a South Carolina native, is a nurse turned homemaker and pumpkin farmer, while Lance, a graduate of Mt. Juliet High School who grew up on a dairy farm, works for Charles DeWeese Construction and moonlights as the farmer in the Glade.
The couple has four children: Scotty, 18, a senior at Wilson Central High School; Tristen, 12, a seventh grader at West Wilson Middle School; Morgan, 7, a second grader at Gladeville Elementary School; and Presley, 5, a pre-schooler at Gladeville Baptist Church.
The super-green sorghum stalks stand 3 to 8 feet high in the maze. Nearby a wide variety of other attractions, mostly designed for children, await exploration. The farm is clean, family friendly and the fees are reasonable.
The variety of activities for kiddos include a creepy-crawl tunnel, a tractor tire obstacle, a pipe slide, a trike track, a playground, a nature trail, a picnic area and games. The biggest hits may be Miss Moo, a pretend milk cow, that allows children to try their milking skills, and an animal farm with not-pretend miniature donkey, chicken, ducks and guineas.
A hay mountain offers kids a place to jump and climb, and there is a square hay bale maze for smaller children.
For kids who have never been on a farm, the Lannoms provide a hand water pump where youngsters can pump water into a big bucket, a trough where they can shovel corn into cans, a corn crib filled with shelled corn for kids to play in and a pile of straw from which to fetch wooden eggs. Tourists can also take 25-minute hay rides.
Lannom Farms offers educational tours for classroom field trips, and last year, about 1,500 schoolkids came with their teachers. Families may also host birthday parties on the site.
This fall, Lance expects to harvest about 4,000 pumpkins, weighing from 4 pounds to 25 pounds apiece. He planted seeds from early June to early July and began taking them off the vines in mid-September and continues the harvest until mid-October.
To produce pumpkins the family had to have bees on standby ready for pollination.
A bloom on a pumpkin only opens one time, and then it closes. Its only open a few hours of its life in the morning. Once it closes, thats it, Lance said. If you dont have an adequate amount of bees to catch those blooms in the morning, they wont get pollinated.
To make that happen they rented four hives from local beekeeper Allen Persinger, who also provides the honey sold at the farms store.
The summer of 2011 has been a tough one on pumpkin farmers.
In August the extreme heat really put a hurt on them, Lance explained. We actually planted ours a little early, which was good. We got early rain, but the heat made some pumpkins start maturing early, turning orange, but they didnt hardly get to size because of the heat.
Tourists to Lannom Farms will also find Mr. Earls General Store where they can purchase pumpkins, jams, jellies, sorghum, candy apples, dried pumpkin seeds, pizza, chips, candy bars and cold drinks. On weekends the menu also includes hamburgers, hot dogs and barbecue. As for the pumpkin pie, youll have to bake that when you get homeif you find your way out of the maze.
Writer Ken Beck may be contacted at email@example.com.
Lannom Farms (formerly the Pumpkin Place)
Families with young children and school groups will find a ton o' fun on this pumpkin farm, starring a five-acre sorghum maze. The farm presents a wide variety of activities for children that connect to rural life. Open now through Oct. 31, operating hours are: Monday-Wednesday(by reservation only), 3-6 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and 1-6 p.m. Sundays. During fall school break, Lannom Farms opens 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. At 11 a.m., 2 and 4 p.m. Saturdays in October, Cathy Jos Craft Corner near the picnic area offers projects such as making Kleenex dum dum ghosts, paper-plate pumpkins, paper-bag pumpkins and candy-corn boys and girls. Admission, which includes access to all activities, is free for children 2 and younger, $6 for age 3 and older. For school field trips the fee is $7 but includes a pumpkin for each child. Pumpkins also may be purchased separately from the field or already picked at Mr. Earls General Store. They are priced from $1 to $5 according to variety and size. To reach the farm, located near Gladeville at 3755 Vesta Road, from Lebanon take 840 West to the Couchville Pike exit (Exit 67), then turn left and go 1.5 miles on Vesta Road. For more information, call 445-6677 or go online to www.lannomfarms.com. Sorry, no pets allowed.