Kindergarteners return to Venetucci Farms for free ‘gourds’

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.- For over 50 years, Venetucci Farms in Colorado Springs has given kindergarten students in the Pikes Peak Region free pumpkins and education to go along with them.

Every October students get the chance to take a field trip out to the farm, pick a pumpkin and learn about the science behind them from Catamount Institute.

Last year, the farm had to cancel farm field trips because of the pandemic. But this year they are welcoming back schools once again.

“We have 2,500 kids receiving this free pumpkin as a part of Nick Venetucci’s plan. It was his goal to give a free pumpkin to kids in our local schools,” Beth Austin, school programs director at Catamount Institute said.

The farm was originally owned by Nick and Bambi Venetucci, and for more than 50 years they gave thousands of pumpkins away to kindergarten students. In 2006, the farm was purchased by the Pikes Peak Community foundation which has kept the tradition going.

“There are grandparents bringing their children who are also bringing their own children so you’ve got three generations coming out to the farm all who have been here to pick pumpkins, so it’s really special,” Nikki McComsey, Pikes Peak Community Foundation member said.

Stratmoor Hills Elementary kindergarteners were welcomed back to the farm on Tuesday, and teachers say they are happy to be back.

“I feel like in the last few years we have kind of lost that normalcy, so it was really nice to be able to come back into the farm and give the kids the experience they deserve,” Maryalice Gabrielson, teacher at Stratmoor Elementary School said.

Gabrielson said last year students got their pumpkins in class without the field trip experience. Although they made it work, she said it’s important to give them an experience outside of the classroom.

“In kindergarten you only have this opportunity once a year, and I feel like it just is fulfilling for everyone on board whether it’s a teacher, the student, or even the family that’s listening to the student explain what happened for the day,” Gabrielson said.

This year over 2,000 free pumpkins will be given to kindergarteners throughout the region.

The farm is dedicated to honoring the legacy of the Venetucci’s, including Nick’s rule that each child must carry their own pumpkin to the car or bus on their own.

Throughout October, any kindergartner that visits the farm will be able to bring a pumpkin home for free. If you’re not a kindergartner, it will cost you $10 a pumpkin.

Venetucci Farm is open between 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays from now until October 30th, located at 5210 S. US Highway 85, Colorado Springs, CO 80911.

For more information on the pumpkin giveaway visit Pikes Peak Community Foundation’s website.

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