Around the grounds of TG Farms, Todd Griffith is jokingly referred to as Peter Pan. “He is truly the ‘boy who ever grew up’,” jokes Shelli McCammond, the farm’s manager. “He has so much fun making and switching up the hay slides and creating new corn mazes each year. You can just see how much fun he has building and designing them, all so that our guests can have as much fun as possible.”
Fun is what TG Farms is all about this time of year. This popular pumpkin patch has locations in both Norman and Newcastle and treats hundreds of families and school groups to unforgettable fall adventures each year.
A Hands-On Farm Experience
A family-owned and operated business, TG Farms opened their pumpkin patch to the public in 1995. Open throughout the month of October, the two pumpkin patches offer tractor-drawn hayrides, a petting zoo, massive hay mazes, giant hay slides, tricycle race tracks, duck ponds, pony rides, pick-your-own pumpkin patches, a general store, concessions and more. “ If you are not from the country, it can amaze you,” Shelly explains.
“There are so many children nowadays that live in [city] neighborhoods that have never seen a true, working farm,” she continues. “Many kids don’t even know that pumpkins grow on a vine. Watching kids learn and have new experiences is what makes this all worthwhile. We offer a chance for families to come and spend the day with us, see the farm, pet our animals and just be outside together.”
The farm includes many traditional favorites, including hay slides that are approximately 9 feet tall and 20 feet long built into towering stacks of hay. “If you get the parents up there to do the hay slides, they will do it as many times as the kids,” Shelli laughs. Other familiar favorites include hayrides, a barrel train and a “How Tall this Fall” sign that provides families with a fun photo opportunity to track their child’s growth each year.
“The set up of the pumpkin patch is tough,” Todd admits. “But I like the smiling kids. They are so happy to be able to pick out a pumpkin as they leave. It’s better than a million bucks.”
And the intense setup is part of what Shelly says makes Todd their resident Peter Pan. “He puts a lot of thoughts into the pumpkin patch and corn maze designs,” She says. “He loves making it better and more creative each year.”
Admission is $8.00, plus tax, for guests of walking age and above during daytime hours, Monday through Friday. After 3:00pm, admission is $10.00, plus tax. Entry fee includes your choice of a pumpkin. Season passes are available for $19.95.
The Corn Maze
While the Norman location will feature a corn maze this year, the Newcastle farm did not receive enough rain for the corn crop to be tall enough for a good maze. Instead, the Newcastle location will include a larger-than-usual hay bale maze. Todd gives visitors a sneak peek of what they will find in Newcastle. “It will have a castle-looking front and feature a hay bale slide in the middle,” he confides. “It will be very cool.”
While Norman’s corn maze is a highlight for some, it is a source of fear for others. “My own mother won’t go in the maze,” Todd says. “She is claustrophobic. There are always a few people that refuse to go in.” But the vast majority of people, including school groups, consider the corn maze to be a welcome challenge. “Each employees has to know it like the back of their hand,” Shelli explains. “It seems like every year we have some ornery school kids that come and try to hide from their teacher.”
The Norman corn maze gets even more exciting from October 24-26 and on Halloween night, when the Haunted Corn Maze makes it debut at dusk. “It’s great for older teens,” Todd says. “It is tastefully done, not bloody or gory. But it will certainly make you jump!”
The General Store
In addition to outdoor activities, TG Farms is well known for the handmade products sold in the farms’ General Store. In addition to a variety of pumpkin butters, jams, jellies, salsas, pickles and seasonal produce, the store also offers a selection of fall decorations such as straw bales, corn stalks, decorative gourds and a large variety of pumpkins.
Fun for Groups
Todd estimates that several thousand school children visit the farm’s two locations each year, coming from schools in Newcastle, McLoud, Norman, Blanchard, Washington and more. “We began hosting school groups here in 1999,” he says. “Each group gets an educational presentation about the farming behind what we do.”
The farms hosts church groups, corporate events and family reunions and offers special admission rates for groups. “We also host birthday parties,” Todd adds. “They are great for kids with fall birthdays. You get the barn for two hours, a hostess and a cake. It’s a lot of fun. My daughter always waits to have her birthday party in October so she can have it at the pumpkin patch.” Group pricing and birthday party information is available by calling 405-387-9222 or emailing email@example.com.
A True, Working Farm
Behind the hayrides and corn mazes is a fully functional, year-round agriculture enterprise. “We’re a true working farm,” Griffith explains. “My dad farmed and my grandpa farmed. Farming has always been in my life.”
Griffith graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in animal science and went to work on his father’s dairy farm. As the family business grew, his father sold the dairy and they transformed into to a seasonal business. “We grow and sell year-round, from flowers and shrubs in the spring, produce in the summer, run our pumpkin patch in the fall and then plan our gardens again in January,” he explains.
“We plant and harvest 22 acres of pumpkins, watermelon, okra, cantaloupe and winter squash,” Todd says. “Everything is grown at our Norman location, where we have both center pivot and drip irrigation, and then sold at both places.”
Depending on the growing conditions of each year, customers can expect to find potatoes, vine-ripened tomatoes, okra, corn on the cob, peaches, cantaloupes, peppers and more. The farm now features a fully-featured greenhouse, garden center, landscaping and design services. Customers can find a wide array of flowers, hanging baskets, trees, shrubs, bedding plants, mulches and more. “Our customer service really sets us apart,” Todd says. “Our staff is here to share knowledge and experience, whether it is about gardening or landscaping. We can help people figure out what they need.”
In addition, TG Farms offers a community supported agriculture program (CSA). CSA members receive a weekly box of fresh produce from the farm from late spring through early farm. “CSA members establish a connection to the food they eat, the land where it is grown and the people who produce it,” Griffith explains. “It allows them to make a commitment to local, sustainable, environmentally-sound agriculture. They are literally putting their money where their mouth is.”
The farm participates in a Farm to School program with Washington Public Schools, delivering fresh watermelons, cantaloupes and cucumbers when in season. Fresh produce and berries are also available for farm guests to “pick their own” beginning in June each year.
For Todd, the biggest benefit to running the annual pumpkin patch is staying connected to the community. “It truly is very rewarding,” he says. “I remember one time when a retirement home came to visit and my fourth grade teacher was in the group. It’s amazing how many people come by that I haven’t seen for years.”
And the sense of community connection holds true for TG Farm’s customers as well. “The most common thing we hear is ‘thanks for being here for another year,’” Todd says. “So many families come every year and we love that they are able to have so much fun with something so important to our family.”
Newcastle location: 1580 Oklahoma Highway 37. Take I-44 south to exit 108. Continue west 1 mile and the farm is located on the south side of the road. Open daily, 9am-dark.
Norman location: 4335 West Highway 9. Take 1-35 south past Norman to exit 106. Continue 1 1/2 miles west. Please call for hours.