If you’re feeling a little blue about the end of summer, a trip to the pumpkin patch may be just what you need.

Today’s the first day of fall. For some it’s sad; there’s a lot of fun stuff to do when the weather is good and the days are long. But autumn’s pretty great in its own right. The chill in the air just adds atmosphere as Halloween draws near.

Whatever you think of autumn, it’s hard to miss, especially in smaller towns that really embrace it, like SSCS’s Salinas hometown and the neighboring village of Carmel Valley. There’s scarecrows and hay bales and cornucopias and corn mazes . . . and pumpkins, lots and lots of pumpkins, truly the First Fruit of Autumn (yes, it is a fruit).

You don’t have to be Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appreciate a pumpkin patch. It’s a serene, all-natural environment where you can get a little peace, commune with nature, and get over those post-summer blues. Commercial pumpkin patches, while not as tranquil, have their own appeal as they provide an opportunity to support a local charity or organization of choice.

Though we have deep affection for the pumpkin patches surrounding us here in the fertile Salinas Valley, the entire country loves them, whether they are part of a working farm, a retail enterprise, or a seasonal amusement. Here’s a few that caught our eye:

  • Let’s start with a list of the most family friendly pumpkin patches in Wisconsin.
  • The Pumpkin Patch, on Sauvie Island, Portland, Oregon, offers a complete experience all year round.
  • Here’s House Beautiful’s list of the best pumpkin patches in each state.
  • Allrecipes has its own opinion on the matter, with plenty of pictures.
  • Last but not least: we’ve been a little light on c-store info this week, so here’s a Pumpkin Patch Ale you might find this time of year on your c-store shelves.

As c-store consumers, we’ve already seen the inside effects of pumpkin season, with pumpkin pastries, snacks, and specialty drinks and coffees proliferating on the shelves. So let’s hear it for the pumpkin patch, the core source of all this orangey goodness, the place where it all began.