Jucker Farm, a quaint family farm nestled at the base of the Alps in Switzerland, boasts a variety of freshly harvested produce; a store full of homemade soups, breads, jams, and ice-cream; farm-to-table style restaurants; friendly goats; a children’s playground; organized events and seminars; a wedding venue; fields of pick-your-own flowers and berries; and much more. But the “adventure” farm has become most famous for their fall pumpkin exhibition.
The farm didn’t always grow pumpkins. In the mid-1990s, an acre of the Jucker’s newly planted fruit trees froze. In an attempt to still have a crop, the family decided to plant vegetables — including pumpkins.
“I had no idea what I had planted there,” recalls Beat Jucker. “Before the first frost, my mother pointed out to me what was going on with all those pumpkins.” Hundreds of pumpkins dotted their field. The family gathered the gourds and piled them in the courtyard. When all were sold within a matter of just two days, Beat was also sold on the idea of pumpkins.
Beat traveled to France with his girlfriend (not knowing a word of French) to meet with a pumpkin farmer he had read about in the newspaper. “Nobody was there. We waited two hours,” remembers Beat. “In the end, however, we went home with 70 different types of pumpkin.”
Along with his brother, Martin, Beat leased an additional six acres of land to plant all of the pumpkins. As you can imagine, when it came time to harvest, there were a lot of pumpkins to be had. They piled their pumpkins high, this time colorfully arrayed and carefully organized and sorted by type. When the customers came, they commented on how nice it was that the Jucker’s were doing a pumpkin “exhibition.”
The brothers loved the idea and ran with it. Their goal: to create the world’s largest pumpkin exhibition. Just a couple of years later, their pumpkin pyramid drew such a crowd the small town of Seegräben was completely overwhelmed. It was decided the exhibition needed to be held abroad, and the beautiful gardens of the Ludwigsburg Palace in Germany were secured for the next exhibition.
At this time, the idea of pumpkin objects and figurines was also suggested, and they enlisted the help of artistic director, Pit Ruge. A “creative meeting” is held every November at the end of the exhibition to decide on next year’s theme. The inspiration comes from nature, current trends, and sometimes personal interests. Then, Pit’s crew starts building the exhibition frames in May, working well into July to complete the projects.
Pit’s crew uses a number of different materials and methods in building the frames, but one of the most impressive must be the carving out of wooden sculptures with a chainsaw. Pit’s special trick? Three different sized chainsaws… and a lot of skill!
One of the greatest challenges in the design process and creation of these giant frames is figuring out how to make them easy to break down and transport, while also maintaining the integrity and stability of the frames. While Jucker Farm admits to never having weighed the creations (how would you?!), the pumpkin masterpieces must be quite heavy, requiring sturdy structures.
After more than 20 years of exhibitions, the pumpkin creations are still a hit! This year’s theme: a tropical rainforest. First introduced at the Swiss farms, the exhibitions will spend the following year at the BlüBa of Ludwigsburg. After a year there, they will travel around to different customers — mainly shopping centers and excursion destinations. Amazingly, each of these pumpkin sculptures can “live” around 10 years!
From what was seemingly a devastating event for the Jucker family, was born a special tradition enjoyed by millions, and a legacy of creativity, ingenuity, and success for the newfound pumpkin farmers. The lesson? You can make something of out just about whatever life hands you. Even pumpkins!
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jucker Farm in Juckerhof, Seegräben, Switzerland. You can visit their website and follow them on Instagram and Facebook to see more of their creations. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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