Family turns “Our Farm” into pumpkin patch and theme park for the masses

Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 4:29 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - It’s that time of year again.

The air is crisp. The leaves on the trees are changing color. The calendar is about to flip to October, and Halloween is just around the corner.

It’s a perfect time to take in a pumpkin patch.

And the other fun things to do at “Our Farm, SD” just outside of Parker — a literal mom-and-pop business — will have you “going out of your gourd.”

For one thing, you get to bring home a free pumpkin gourd. But you can also launch them at trash can targets in a pumpkin patch version of a target range.

But it also has a petting zoo — not just some animals you look at from afar — a slide mountain, hay bale mountain, corn maze, corn pit, pedal track, zip lines, “duck races” and an obstacle course.

And, oh, yeah, pumpkins.

Lane Mellegaard grew up on the farm but hasn’t lived there in 20 years. He resides in Sioux Falls for 20 his wife Brooke and three young children.

His mother still lives on the property, which had been a weekend playground for the kids when they visited grandma.

A few years ago, it started becoming a bit of a gold mine for daughters Meile (11) and Berklie (9) and son Kase (7).

”My kids and I have been raising pumpkins since they were little, and we used to bring them into Sioux Falls,” Lane said. “Every year in the back of my truck, we’d load up a thousand pumpkins. We’d sell them in our yard to friends and family off of Facebook, and it just got bigger and bigger every year.

The first year, the kids bought their first dog with the profits. In recent years, it has paid for their traveling and gear expenses in club sports they play, like football, volleyball, baseball, and softball.

The Mellegaards could have sold “thousands more” pumpkins last year, according to Lane.

So, he decided to do something he and Brooke had been contemplating for years — turn their family farm into a public pumpkin patch and “theme park.”

“I didn’t think they would do it,” their Meile said.

But this year, they took the plunge. While Brooke remained a first grade teacher in Sioux Falls, Lane quit his job fixing cars to make this a full-time family farm affair.

They planted 10,000 pumpkins, and the children gave him suggestions for most of the added amenities for people of all ages to enjoy, especially children. Lane has been hard at work buying all the supplies for the “theme park” stuff, which has been taxing. Literally.

“It’s 2022,” Lane said with a wry smile and headshake when explaining the patience he’s needed to wait for products to come in.

”My kids are the biggest inspiration for all this, for me to do this, for me to spend more time with them,” Lane said. “To teach them how to grow pumpkins, to raise animals, to build stuff.”

Lane’s father, who died 16 years ago at age 51, wanted Lane to learn the same things growing up on the farm.

Making a living off the labor on the land (beyond the corn and soybeans the acreage is situated) has now become Lane’s life work, and he wants to add “giving back to the community” to what he wants his kids to learn.

And how does Meile, the oldest of the bunch, feel about directing the petting zoo for over 12 hours a week, on the weekends, and sharing her wonderland with kids from all over the Sioux Falls area and beyond?

”I like it,” Meile said without hesitation. “Kids can come out here and have fun and experience things that they haven’t had to before. People like to play with animals. Everyone’s so happy when they leave, and they don’t want to leave.”

Lane said he does not consider his new job “work.”

”It’s a better joy than any other job you could actually have,” Lane said, mainly because he gets to share it with his family.

“They’re pretty special.”

Our Farm is open Friday thru Sunday from Noon to 6. Admission is $5 dollars for adults and $10 for kids, a relatively affordable rate, which Lane said has worked, as he’s seen plenty of repeat customers.

Check out its Facebook page.