One of the biggest farms in the South Bay is winding down its operations this year as it goes out of business.
The announcement by Uesugi Farms in San Martin has caused a lot of concern that it could mean the end of its popular Halloween-time pumpkin festival. Many South Bay families attend the festival each year; it's not only a tradition that's been around for nearly three decades, but it's also one reminder of the rich local agricultural history that still exists in Santa Clara County. Now, both are fading.
Uesugi Farms said it is going out of business due to market conditions and factors beyond their control. Paul Mirassou, president of the Santa Clara County Farm Bureau, says the problems are the same for all local farmers: rising costs, including labor, and fluctuating prices for crops.
"It surprised everybody ... because they were so big," Mirassou said about Uesugi. "And they did it for so well for such a long time."
When news of the closure went public, Uesugi quickly released statements, saying operations would wind down after the fall harvest and that it still planned to hold a fall festival.
The owners said any festivals after this year would be run by new investors. That made people feel a little better but also apprehensive.
"I actually think there’s a real sense of community that surrounds Uesugi Farms," San Martin resident Rachel Rosenzweig said. "You know people, you see the same people working there, volunteering."
Carol Bergot of Morgan Hill added: "It’s sad. I hope there’s not going to be more development. I hope that’s not what they’re doing. But it’s sad. It’s a popular place."
Owners declined to comment on what will happen to the festival after this year, but the pumpkin patch will remain with new owners, NBC Bay Area was told.
What will surround it is still not known.