October - December 2007
Stu Miller's Pumpkin Patch and Christmas Trees
Laguna Hills, California
Seasonal Adventures is the parent company for the Stu Miller’s Pumpkin Patch and Christmas Tree lots that sprout up during the season.
Workampers run the lots and duties include selling pumpkins and trees, running rides and concessions, taking care of the animals in the petting zoo, managing staff, handling the money, and general maintenance of the lot.
Lots are located throughout Southern California and around Las Vegas, NV.
If you run a pumpkin patch you will start in late September and have a little break after October 31. Christmas Tree managers get started in mid November.
Some of our friends from Alaska did this for five years and wanted to only manage the Pumpkin Patch so they could be home with their kids for Christmas. We worked it out with the folks at Seasonal Adventure that we would work for our friends on the Pumpkin Patch and then manage the Christmas Tree lot for them.
In a pinch.
What we liked:
free place to stay
attentive regional manager
What we didn't like:
this was a new lot and was not in a good location
not being busy enough to give our employees the hours they expected
could not leave the lot unattended
smoke from the wildfires
This was another job on our list of things we wanted to try out. When we met Eric and Denise and found out that they needed help on their lot for that winter, it seemed like a perfect fit.
During the Pumpkin Patch, we were just regular minimum wage workers, only living on the lot. Along with the other workers, who were mostly high school kids that had been with Eric and Denise for years, we helped run the rides, fed the animals in the petting zoo, and occasionally sold a pumpkin or two. This job was much more like working at an amusement park with little kids running around and a festival type atmosphere.
This lot was a new location for Eric and Denise, and Seasonal Adventures, and almost immediately it became clear that they were not getting the traffic they did at their previous lot. While there was a nice neighborhood around us, there was no real draw in that shopping center. That year there was also a number of wildfires around L.A. and we had to shut down a few days because of smoke. So Halloween came and we cleared the lot, totally braking down between Halloween and Thanksgiving.
When we came back for Christmas Trees we got right to setting up. Our RV was parked right on the lot and had power and water and a honey wagon came to pump our holding tanks once a week. Being in a new location set us back a little when it turned out the proper inspections had not been set up, but a week after Thanksgiving we were fully up and running.
Things at this lot were slow, as was expected after the performance during pumpkins. It didn’t help that Southern California was already feeling the beginnings of the recession and many people did not want to spend a hundred dollars on a Christmas Tree. We had three different kinds of trees, wreaths, garland, stands and even delivery services available. We also flocked trees on the lot, which means spraying them with a white glue like substance that coats the tree and is supposed to look like snow. While the lot was in place one of us had to be on site 24 hours a day. We had one attempted tree theft, but they were unsuccessful.
Because things were slow we were not able to give our employees as many hours as they were used to, and we lost a good portion of them during the season. Things were so slow all over that year that when the managers of a neighboring lot had to leave for a family emergency, Phil was able to go over and run their lot without much extra effort.
But overall the experience was a positive one and we would consider doing it again someday.