Rob and Donna Soneson fired up their 1963 Fordson Super Major tractor Monday afternoon to finish up some planting at their pumpkin farm, Cottage Lane Pumpkin Patch, just outside of Ellis.
“We’ve had her from the beginning,” Donna said of the vintage tractor.
“I call her Betsy Blue.”
With Donna in the driver’s seat and Rob perched on the planter dropping the seeds in the ground, it didn’t take long for the couple to finish planting the last two rows of the main pumpkin patch at the farm. The patch is approximately 100 yards long and has 26 rows of varieties of pumpkins. Heirloom, commercial and ornamental pumpkins, as well as squash and gourds, are just a few options from which customers will have to choose when they visit this coming fall.
The Sonesons moved to their current property at 1001 West 15th just outside of Ellis with the intention of starting a pumpkin patch, and opened for business in 2001.
“It was kind of a vision I had to let me work and be around the kids,” Donna said. “It’s been a great way to raise our kids.”
Their children, Kaleigh and Geoffrey, grew up on the pumpkin patch and have helped in various ways for most of their lives.
“The first year our daughter was in kindergarten and our son was one,” Rob said.
Now as adults, Kaleigh and Geoffrey continue to be a part of the operation of the pumpkin patch. From working in the barn and face painting to driving a tractor and helping customers with their pumpkins, they have proved to be a valuable part of the business. They also assist with planting, upkeep and cleaning throughout the year.
With the exception of occasional volunteers, the patch is solely run by the Sonesons and their family members.
“It’s a single-family business,” Donna said.
This summer the family will be busy keeping the weeds at bay and cleaning up and maintaining the property.
The pumpkin patch is scheduled to open for visitors at the end of September through the end of October. It will be open to the public on weekends and available for group tours and field trips during the week by appointment. In addition to picking their own pumpkins, visitors will be able to take a trip through a corn maze, view various farm animals and shop in the barn.
Through the 18 years the Sonesons have run Cottage Lane, they have had people come from nearly every state and various other countries and are continually amazed by those that take the time to visit.
“It’s really neat to think, we’re just a little spot on the map in Ellis, Kansas and we pull all these people out here,” Donna said.
"It's hard to say what the next few years will bring our family, but the past 18 years has given us a wonderful gift in the people we meet and the memories, as well."
To keep up with the happenings at the pumpkin patch, visit Cottage Lane Pumpkin Patch on Facebook.