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Jim Wurth holds a family photograph of his father, aunts and uncles. Steve's father was the second generation to run Wurth Farm on Friendship Road in Paducah. He lived to be 93 years old, farming till he died. Over the years, they've had to adapt, but they've always had the farm.

Planting Seeds

story by Joan Lederer

Pumpkin blossoms in hand, Lisa Grief looks out over a patch full of children. As farm workers pass around small vanilla-colored seeds, Lisa dips into her knowledge of growing food and repackages it for an audience of kindergartners.

"Where do pumpkins come from? Do they come from witches?" she asks. A chorus of voices rejects the preposterous notion. "I know," she continues. "They come from Walmarts."

Again, the children call out the lie.

"Well, where do pumpkins come from?" she asks.

"From seeds!" they scream.

It's music to her ears. One of three siblings running Wurth Farm, Lisa sees hundreds of school children visit each year to pick pumpkins. The draw for adorable photos of tiny hands grasping at pumpkin stems has kept the farm afloat. It has also created a platform for Lisa and her brothers to share their work with a community that has become disconnected from farm life and the food it provides.

In an age when few children know where food comes from, the Wurths feel a responsibility to educate "our future voters." Jim Wurth, Lisa's brother, says some of the kids are in such awe of the rural surroundings "you'd think this was an African Safari."


Jim, 58, spends a lot of time driving to and from fields where he and his siblings grow strawberries, flowers and pumpkins. They work independently but rely on their cell phones to stay in touch throughout the day.


A caravan of hayride tractors travel three-quarters of a mile from the center of the farm to the pumpkin patch. The riders pass by ghosts in trees and witches on brooms that celebrate Halloween. Cows graze nearby. It's a popular field trip for school groups, but the weekends are dominated by families.


Two children explore the pumpkin patch at Wurth Farm during a preschool class's field trip. Practically a rite of passage, hundreds of school children and families visit the farm for hay rides and pumpkins each year in October.


Steve Wurth, 66, rides a 14-year-old mare to herd cattle. His horses and cows share a grazing space to get comfortable with each other. The cattle are moved to different pastures and herded away from the pumpkin patch when children visit.


Steve moves mums he grows and sells at the Wurth farm store. In addition to the flowers, the store carries strawberries and pumpkins. Steve has a masters in mathematics, but after teaching for a year, he decided he was more suited for farm life. He likes to live near family.


Ginger Binkley, an aide at Lone Oak Intermediate School, snuggles with some of her students while waiting for cookies and cider. Each child who visits the farm leaves with a pumpkin seed to plant, a coloring book and a small pumpkin.


Barbara McNeil, Jim and Steve's cousin, makes hundreds of caramel apples in the farmhouse kitchen. Three generations of Wurths have lived in this house.


Elan Strong, 4, wears his father's shirt to keep warm. His father, Alan Strong, has a master's degree in divinity and works on the farm. Elan often visits the pumpkin patch and tries to push pumpkins that may weigh more than he does.


Rubber mice decorate the fence for Halloween.


Steve, from left, and his sister, Lisa Grief, take a few free moments to eat lunch. October is a hectic month on the farm, and the three siblings work long hours seven days a week. Lisa makes 28 sandwiches over the weekend for all the workers' lunches.


Jim lights bonfires with propane. The farm is often rented for parties and picnics in the evenings. Over weekends, the farm also offers a petting zoo that includes a camel.


Steve drives one of the hay ride tractors loaded with kindergartners. The Wurth siblings started offering farm tours to protect their livelihood, but they also care about teaching "our future voters" about where food comes from. In October, Lisa focuses on how pumpkins grow.

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