All posts by Laura Gaver

Harvest Mania!

Our 2017 Corn Maze is Harvest Mania featuring our farm machines! The corn maze theme focuses on our biggest farm machine, the combine! In the design, the combine is harvesting corn and loading a grain truck with shelled corn. The Corny Kiddie Maze design is stalks of corn. Harvest Mania is a 7-acre corn maze. Are you ready to tackle the twists and turns of Harvest Mania?

Pumpkin Planting Party!

It’s hard to believe this is our 20th year growing pumpkins at Gaver Farm! We started selling pumpkins sort of accidentally after my brother Greg grew a surprise bumper crop in his first year of 4-H in 1998. We picked them and put them on display on a wagon in our front yard with a self-serve jar. Friends and neighbors stopped by for a few pumpkins and put a few dollars in the jar. Greg decided to use the money he earned to plant more pumpkins the following Spring.

Eventually we moved the pumpkin crop out of the garden and into the fields where we had room to grow and the plants could get more specialized care. This spring we planted 24 acres of pumpkins in 4 different patches! We plant 30+ varieties of pumpkins, squash and gourds. It takes Dad (Farmer Mike) and myself (Laura) one full day to plant the season’s crop. The pumpkins sprout, grow and ripen in about 3 months!

Corn Maze Cover Crops

Our 2015 Maryland Pride Corn Maze and Apple Kiddie Corn Maze were harvested in November 2015 and we planted winter rye within days. The photo below was taken in April 2016 of the rye cover crop. Can you see the apple maze paths in the rye? The maze’s paths are a darker color green than the rest of the field because more nutrients are available to the rye since no corn crop grew on the paths to utilize the nutrients in 2015. The rye where the corn grew is light green because the corn used those nutrients. Our goal as farmers is to only apply the amount of nutrients that the growing crop will need. This is a perfect example of the value of cover crops.

Cover crops are hard-working plants that build productive soil and help control weeds, pests and diseases. Cover crops can be any type of plants, but are generally grasses (including cereal grains which may be harvested) or legumes. They may be tilled into the soil as a green fertilizer or used as mulch on the surface. In 2015 we planted rye cover crops on all acreage we use to grow corn, soybeans and pumpkins.

Cover crops stabilize nutrients by covering the soil to prevent excess nitrogen from leaching into water sources. Their roots and top growth build soil quality by providing organic matter to enhance soil structure. The roots stabilize soil movement for erosion control. Legume cover crops thrive on nitrogen; convert nitrogen and store it in the roots so that it is released and available for the next season’s plants. The cover crops have good timing because they grow during the winter when the ground would normally be bare.

Farmers plant cover crops for the winter to protect the soil and recycle nutrients for next season’s crop naturally. They are recognized as one of the most cost-effective and environmentally- promising ways to reduce runoff into the Chesapeake Bay. As local farmers who have produced and harvested agricultural products for many generations, we take great pride in being good stewards of the land. Sustainable farming practices like planting cover crops are a best management practice and our top priority.

Maryland Corn Maze

 

Top 10 Things to Do at Gaver Farm

If you are visiting Gaver Farm this weekend, we have put together a Top 10 List of the Best Things to Do while at Gaver Farm! Bring your family and friends and tackle the list, plus all the other awesome activities we have on the farm! Open from 10 am – 10 pm on Friday and Saturday and 10 am – 6 pm on Sunday!

Silo Chute10. Slide down the Silo Chute: It’s the fan favorite of our 10 new Fall Festival activities this year and Farmer Mike has put together a one of a kind activity. Take the bridge to the slide inside the silo and have a blast sliding to the bottom! The Silo Chute is one of the 45 activities in the Fall Fun Festival, an all-inclusive area for fun on the farm!

 

Duckpond9. Feed the Ducks at the Pond: Visit Duck Deck to feed the ducks and watch them swim on the farm pond. We have Peking, Crested, Khaki Campbell and Muscovy ducks that love swimming for the yummy floating feed. It’s a great spot to relax on benches by the water! Purchase Feed at the Admission Barn!

 

Fudge8. Free Fudge Tasting: The Barn Bakery is the sweetest spot on the farm featuring fudge, pies, caramel apples and pumpkin spice lattes. We make our own farm fresh fudge and offer free tastings on weekends. Try any of the over 15 kinds of delicious fudge including Caramel Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Chocolate and Red Velvet Fudge!

 

Maryland Corn Maze7. Tackle the Maryland Pride Corn Maze: The corn maze is expanded this year to a 7-acre maze with some of Maryland’s favorites- the blue crab, black-eyed Susan and the Maryland flag! NEW this year- use a GPS tool on your smartphone for help (info posted at entrance), or tackle this difficult maze on your own!

 

Pumpkin Patch Hayrides6. Take a FREE Hayride: Hayrides are always free at Gaver Farm and run continuously on weekends. Take a ride around the scenic, historic farm and stop in the fields to pick your own pumpkins and Cameo or Fuji apples. We’re always picking pumpkins and the Apple Orchard is open on weekends in October!

 

Campfires5. Reserve a Farm Campfire: Sit around a fire pit with friends and family making s’mores, sipping hot cider and making memories. Campfires are available with reservation on Friday and Saturday nights and Saturday and Sunday afternoons! Nothing says fall like cuddling around a cozy campfire!

 

farm market4. Visit the Huge Farm Market: Farmer Greg has been busy picking pumpkins, squash, gourds, apples and more to fill the Farm Market with all kinds of fall produce! Pick up some apple cider, jams, fall decor, straw, mums, corn stalks and more! The Farm Market is also home to the Barn Bakery, the sweetest spot on the farm!

 

festgoats3. Feed the Friendly Farm Animals: Gaver Farm has some of the friendliest animals around and they love visitors! There are 12 different kinds of farm animals including the most popular and interactive goats, a litter of baby piglets and their mama, Daisy the donkey and her baby Autumn, sheep, chickens, turkeys, alpacas and more! Pick up some feed at the Admission Barn!

 

kids patch2. Take a Family Photo: Fall is such a beautiful time to take photos outdoors and Gaver Farm is a picturesque farm with many areas for photography. Take some action shots of your kids, or have a friend snap some family photos. We would love to see your photos, so #gaverfarm or tag us @gaverfarm on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!

 

CiderDonuts1. Eat a HOT Apple Cider Donut: It’s not fall without our famous apple cider donuts and we make them all weekend! Visit the Barn Grill and ask for some hot donuts! They go great with a cup of cold or hot apple cider and will have you coming back for more!

 

Apple Harvest Festival

girl applesOur apples are ready! It’s time to start picking the delicious Cameo and Fuji apples from our Orchard! The Orchard is open for pick your own on weekends in October from 10 am – 6 pm, while supplies last. Take a free hayride through the scenic pumpkin patch to pick yummy apples with friends and family.

October 3-4 is our Apple Harvest Festival, where we kick-off the apple picking season! Be the first to pull the delicious fruit from the trees this weekend! Admission to the orchard is free for up to 4 people with the purchase of a picking bag ($20 per peck and $32 per 1/2 bushel). For details and picking policies please visit Apple Picking!

We will be celebrating the Apple Harvest Kick-Off in the Barn Bakery with our famous apple cider donuts, fresh-baked apple pies, caramel apple walnut pies, caramel apple pie fudge, hot and cold apple cider and apple cider slushys, just to name a few treats!

The Farm Market is stocked with apples- grab a bag or bushel of your favorite apples!

Fall Fun Festival Farm Activities

Bridge to Fun!Every year we add around 8 new activities to the Fall Fun Festival farm activities! We spend the winter months making lists, gathering ideas, accumulating supplies, deciding which are our favorite ideas and choosing which to build. Most of the building takes place in the summer after crops are planted, hay is harvested and mowing begins to slow down. We paint, plant posts, build, hammer, paint some more, purchase lumber, build, test and then add in a little more painting.

The best part is completing a new activity to add to the farm activities for our guests! Since we don’t want to spoil any surprises for those of you coming out on opening weekend to be the first to try all the new activities, we thought we’d share a little glimpse of our most exciting new activity for this fall! Can you guess where this bridge leads?! We couldn’t be more excited!

 

2015 Maryland Corn Maze

We are so excited to share a photo of our 2015 Maryland Corn Maze! Our theme this year is Maryland Pride, featuring Black Eyes Susans, our favorite crustacean- the crab and the Maryland Flag! Farmer Brian used GPS to create our expanded corn maze this year and we love the design! We were able to take a plane ride to get a few photos of the maze and couldn’t be more excited to reveal the larger corn maze picture! Are you ready to find your way through the maze this fall!?

This is our 9th annual corn maze as part of our Fall Fun Festival. The apple on the right is the Kiddie Corn Maze, enjoyed by many school groups and little ones. It’s a great way to get started with committing to the huge maze! Our Frederick, Maryland Corn Maze is a great activity for the whole family!

Maryland Corn Maze at Gaver Farm

Fields of Vines

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Gaver Farm’s Field of Pumpkin Vines

Every January I sit down with my dad, Mike and we look through a huge stack of seed catalogs to decide how many seeds to plant and what varieties to plant. Each seed variety yields a different pumpkin, squash or gourd and we use past experiences, crop successes (and failures), market trends and personal preference to decide what to order and plant. We always like to try new seeds, but have a few favorites that are our go-to every year.

It takes us 2 days in early June to get all the seeds planted. This year we planted 36 different varieties of pumpkins, winter squash and gourds in three separate fields- including the pick-your-own patch, a patch on the back side of the farm inside our deer management fence and another field about 10 miles north. We rotate our crops every year, so the pumpkins get moved to a different location on the farm each year. The pumpkins grown in the second 2 fields will be picked and available in the Farm Market and to fill large orders.

This year, spring was extremely dry and so we found ourselves waiting for rain to plant the pumpkins. Mike and I planted late into the evening- late meaning it was completely dark and we could only see by the lights on the tractor. We got the all in the ground that evening and the next day it started raining and hasn’t stopped. It has been one of the wettest summers we can remember, which has helped the pumpkins grow tremendous vines! We love vines because vines get lots of flowers that will bear fruit this fall in the form of gorgeous pumpkins!

Happy Birthday Mammaw!

Mammaw & Hailey.

Mammaw & Hailey.

We had an exciting weekend with friends and family celebrating Mammaw- Evelyn Gaver’s 80th Birthday! If you have ever visited the farm, you have probably met my grandmother, “Mammaw.”

She loves helping out by greeting guests at the entrance to the Fall Fun Festival, giving decorating advice, assisting anyone who needs help and helping make donuts in the Barn Grill.

Hailey loves her great-grandmother and we are so lucky that she gets to spend time with Mammaw and Pap. Happy 80th Birthday Mammaw!

Welcome To Laura’s Lookout

Gaver Farm

Brian, Laura & Hailey House

Hello Friends! My name is Laura Gaver House. I was born and raised on our family farm in Mt. Airy, MD and am now married and raising my daughter on the very same farm! I learned most of what I know about agriculture from my parents and experiences on the farm, but also got a BS degree in Dairy Science from Virginia Tech.

I enjoy gardening, am super-organized, love reading, making home-cooked meals, fresh air and a good bowl of ice cream. My favorite things on the farm are new baby animals, the smell of fresh-cut hay, and watching crops grow from planting to harvest.

I married my best friend, Brian in 2011 and am beyond blessed to work beside him and the rest of my family every day. I absolutely love being a mom and am having fun figuring out how to farm full-time with a one-year-old in tow. Join me for a look at what’s happening in my home, family, agriculture, with local food and at Gaver Farm!