October 2013 - Mary McGrath of McGrath Brothers Great Pacific Pumpkin
Pumpkins, pumpkins and more pumpkins. Mary began working with her father on the farm in the mid 80s. He offered her a job and she took it! No looking back. In the 90’s she joined her brothers Jim and Martin, otherwise known as the McGrath Brothers, at the Great Pacific Pumpkin Farm. You can see it from the 101 Freeway near the Victoria Exit. You can’t miss the bright orange fruit dotting the sloped fields as you drive by. It reminds most of us of Autumn, Halloween and of being kids again. Who doesn’t love a big pumpkin sitting on their front porch this time of year? Mary McGrath was beaming with pride and a big smile when I met her on a gorgeous sunny Ventura County day. The fields and her two farm stands were bursting with 20 different varieties of exotic squash and colorful calico corn. This is quintessential Autumn at it’s finest. Mary took the time to walk me around the dried corn stalk garden to show me her piles of winter squash varieties – she pointed to the delicata, turban, galeux d’eysines, hubbard, kabocha. Mary is the epitome of the fresh Farm to Table trend. She explained at the end of her work day day she would be taking her favorite squash, the Galeux d’Eysines, home to make a delicious pumpkin soup. She also loves the acorn varieties and prepares them like bell peppers stuffing each with rice and whatever she has on hand. My favorite part of meeting with Mary is when I saw her playful side as she stopped in front of a Cinderella pumpkin, pointed and said, “Biddidi bobbidi boo!” Quoting Disney’s Fairy Godmother when she turned a pumpkin into a coach.
Mary loves the Fall season. She said, “Many say there is no Autumn in California, but I argue that point. Ventura County is full of change in the Autumn. As I child I looked forward to the soil being plowed leaving deep varieties of brown. And who doesn’t love the sun setting on a field of pumpkins?” What sight to behold.
Mary McGrath and her family are such an integral part of Ventura County. We lost one of it’s best members recently, Mr. Tom McGrath. He was a farmer, a father, husband and friend to many. He was all that’s good about our county. He will be missed.
Mary thank you for all you do. We are so lucky to have such a kind and spirited farmer in our midst. Visit McGrath Brothers Great Pacific Pumpkin Patch at 5100 Olivas Park Drive, Ventura, CA McGrath Brothers Great Pacific Pumpkins