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Fall fun at the Niederman Family Farm

<p>In spite of COVID restrictions, many families are finding fall fun at pumpkin patches and autumn farms this year. Photo by Grace Killian. </p>

In spite of COVID restrictions, many families are finding fall fun at pumpkin patches and autumn farms this year. Photo by Grace Killian.

In the midst of midterms, students long for a break from Zoom calls, exams and endless assignments. Niederman Family Farm is the perfect place for students to get away and enjoy some fall fun as temperatures begin to drop.

A little more than a half-hour drive outside of Oxford, the farm offers fresh treats, pumpkins and fun fall activities. Looking around, there's a smile on everyone's face and children's laughter can be heard from across the field. 

In the middle of the day on a Friday, the farm isn’t very crowded. Small families wander from each activity. The swings are pushed high into the sky by parents that seem just as happy as the kids to have a break from their normal routines. 

The children wait their turn to climb onto the jumping pillow while their parents stay behind and watch carefully. One mom joins her son on the bouncing pillow, holding his hand as he jumps around with children twice his age. They bounce high into the air and fall gently, laughing and shouting.

With a high of 80 degrees for the day, most visitors are dressed in short sleeve shirts and shorts, though many still wear Halloween or fall-themed t-shirts. The cool breeze brings a reminder that fall is still here, as do the leaves that slowly drop from the yellow and red trees onto the field in the middle of the farm.

Upon entering and having a mobile ticket scanned, the first sight is the market full of treats. Just beyond that, and possibly more distracting, are the hundreds of pumpkins waiting to be picked. 

Right outside the door of the market, boxes upon boxes of mini pumpkins and colorful gourds sit waiting to be sifted through. Pie pumpkins, the small rounder pumpkins, are gathered by the fence. Spread out across the grass are the large pumpkins typically used for Jack-O-Lanterns.

The Gyarmarti family has been coming to the Niederman Family Farm for almost 10 years now. They live nearby and have two daughters who are often distracted by the animals in pens. For Abriella, the oldest of the two, it’s what she always looks forward to. 

The mother, Jade Gyarmarti, enjoys supporting local families and businesses. The familiar faces around the farm are just part of what keeps her coming back. She always stops in the market before leaving the farm. 

“I get my fall decorations and little things,” Gyarmarti said. “And they have the best doughnuts ever here. You have to try them.”

The family-owned farm was started in 1948 and has been passed down for four generations. Raising livestock and growing corn, wheat and soybeans has been essential for the family. When Bob and Bethann Niederman married and took charge of the farm, it became more difficult financially. The farm tours, pumpkin patch, corn maze and even paintball were all introduced to help save the family business. 

In 2011, Bob Niederman lost his battle to cancer. His family keeps the farm to honor his legacy. They help keep his dream alive of passing the farm down to future generations with the help of friends and family.

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Barbara Fightmaster has been helping out on the farm for nearly 10 years now. Currently, she works in the booth selling cider and fresh treats. From caramel apples to doughnuts to mini pies, she helps provide visitors with all of their fall favorites. 

“We love to see families out here having a great time,” Fightmaster said. “We’re all friends, so we have such a great time working here.”

Past the jumping pillow and concession stands, the corn maze and hayrides attract most of the visitors. The tractor leads hayride drives past corn before stopping in front of short sunflowers. One rider observes how the tall ones were too old and these mini sunflowers were much more beautiful.

The tractor driver lets everyone off the carts to take pictures in front of the flowers. He lets the children take a seat on the tractor for parents to take a picture. “Say pumpkin face!” he would say as he takes a photo of the children. While this activity is mainly for children, I can’t lie and say I didn’t take a turn sitting on the tractor myself.

For the first time in more than 70 years, the Niederman Farm looks different for families and friends. Due to COVID-19 they are no longer offering farm tours. Instead, mobile ticket sales are used to control the amount of visitors on the property at one time. 

Activities and concessions are spread out, meaning not everything is available like it had been before. Now certain treats, like fresh doughnuts or pumpkin funnel cake, are available only at night. The vanilla donuts that are covered in cinnamon sugar are a crowd favorite, so they’ve been made available in prepackaged containers for customers to buy. 

Antoinette Beerman has worked on the Nierderman’s farm for nine years. From the market to leading field trips, she has done almost every job she can. Her favorite job of all was making the donuts.

“The donuts bring so much joy to our customers,” Beerman said. “They always look forward to them.”

If you’re looking for something to do as the weather cools down, Niederman’s Farm is the place to go for a wholesome autumnal activity that brings back the nostalgic feelings of your childhood years.