A visit to the Gust Brothers Pumpkin Farm has become a beloved tradition for many Sylvanians, with thousands of area residents taking the ten minute trip up to Mulberry Road in Michigan every year for farm-fresh fun with the happy animals, pumpkins and flower crops, produce, homemade baked goods, jam, cider, donuts, and, for the young at heart, a sprint through the open fields with wild abandon.
All that cool-weather fun begins in springtime, so just as the days are starting to warm up with a summer sizzle, the Gust family is already off and running toward autumn.
Dan and son Jake have to keep a sharp eye on the young plants this time of year, especially on dry windy days.
Already in the ground are potatoes, cabbage, beets, broccoli, onions, corn, beans, and tomatoes, and pumpkins are on the way. The flower patch has been started too, and will be transplanted late summer for the U-Pick garden by the pumpkin patch.
Like his father taught him, Jake also shares his farming know-how. During the school year he is a teacher at Whiteford Agricultural School.
Dan Gust and his son Nate cross paths while working the fields. "It's a very busy time, but it's super fun," says the elder Gust. "Everybody's on a tractor!"
Empty now but not for long! Fresh-grown flowers will be on sale and the sunflower field will be beckoning visitors in July. The Gusts offer their healthy harvest for sale on-site only now, instead of hauling their goods to local farmers markets, so those looking for the Gust's great produce need to keep an eye on their Facebook page for open days and hours this summer: Facebook/GustBrothersPumpkinFarm .
No lines today for fresh-baked apple fritters at the donut barn, and all is silent in the petting barn too, off to the right. In the distance the pumpkin patch and U-Pick flower field are quietly at work, growing glorious autumn treasure that is still hidden in the ground.
Unrecognizable now, the entrance where visitors first arrive and park is being put to good use over the summer. Dan Gust explains how nothing goes to waste on the farm, so they let the parking lot grow over with grass, and then the cows graze there throughout the growing season. Hannah, Kelsey, Jacob, Blondie, and Buttercup, all named by the Gust grandchildren, will be welcoming children in the petting barn in the fall. Blondie, far right, is expected to give birth to a calf any day now.
One cute calf has already arrived this spring, just in time to help momma keep the grass trimmed. Children will be able to meet their new friend at the Gust petting barn.
Back in 1991, the Gust family decided to plant pumpkins on their farm for the very first time. Dad Daniel Gust with sons one-year-old Dave, four-year-old Jacob, six-year-old Joseph, and seven-year-old Nate are examining the corn crop, which yielded quite a bit more than did the pumpkin patch that first year. Each son now plays a vital role in the operation and success of the farm.
The Gusts began farming just a hop, skip and a jump from Sylvania long before their now-famous pumpkins were planted. The farm was recognized and celebrated for its Centennial Anniversary in 2013.
In 1912 the Gust's big barn was built, and became an instant favorite for the youngsters of the Gust clan.
Like today, in the early 1900s the Gust children never had any trouble finding ways to enjoy life on the farm.
The family tradition continues in 2021 with 18-month-old Hank, Dave Gust's son and Dan and Terese Gust's eleventh grandchild. The young man is already at work on his tractor... under grandma's watchful eye, of course.
Dan, Terese, and young Hank rest a moment before dinner. Mrs. Gust is not only a great cook, but also a very busy cook. During the growing season, she prepares a homemade lunch every day for everyone who works on the farm, including all the hired hands (They have Amish families who come and work with them every year). Dinnertime usually finds more folks dropping in too, so more often than not the Gusts have a good-sized gathering at all meal times, something the family whole-heartedly enjoys.
Off in the distance, the cows have all but disappeared into the landscape as they settle in for a springtime evening nap, and another day of hard work for everyone comes to a close on the Gust Farm. All well worth it, according to the Gusts, who are counting down the days until September when they turn the sign to "Open" and welcome an endless stream of smiling faces and happy families, all in search of farm-fresh fall adventures.