by Bob Groeneveld/Special to the Langley Advance
In Glen Valley, in the northeast of Langley, is one of the Lower Mainland’s favourite pumpkin patches – and it’s kind of an accident.
Albert and Dorothy Anderson bought their 40-acre farm at 8301 252nd St., just east of Fort Langley, in 1971.
“We tried a number of enterprises,” said Albert, a prominent local veterinarian at the time. “We tried sheep and beef cattle, we grew some sweet corn for a while, sold some hay. It kept us busy outside of the veterinary business… and it was a place to raise our kids in the lifestyle both Dorothy and I had grown up in.”
They liked that it also allowed the whole family to be in the local 4-H community.
However, Albert noted, “This wasn’t really paying any bills.”
When they bought their neighbour’s 40 acres in 1983, they looked around to see if there was something that might be more profitable.
“Dorothy noticed a lot of pumpkins down in Delta, and (said) maybe we should look at that,” Albert recalled. “So we planted some in the small acreage. We grew them for two years for the wholesale market, and boy… they tell you in the spring how much they’re going to pay in October and then the cheque comes in January or February, after all the dockage from being shipped all over the country. And that was no fun.”
But then a chance encounter changed the Andersons’ direction toward the Aldor Acres Pumpkin Patch that will again host hordes of visitors this month.
“A school teacher was in at the clinic one day, and we got talking,” said Albert. “Her grandfather had given me a scholarship to go to vet school, so we had a little commonality there. We were just chatting and thought maybe she would come to the farm just to see. We had a lot of animals, and we had a few pumpkins.”
She brought her elementary class to visit the pumpkin farm.
“They had a really good time,” said Albert, “so this good woman put it through the Langley inter-school mail.”
The Andersons didn’t know she’d done that, but they welcomed class after class of youngsters.
The numbers “doubled for the first 10 years,” said Albert. And since then, hundreds of classes have toured the farm, as well as families and others, including business groups that may bring upwards of a 100 employees to enjoy a corporate event in the pumpkin patch setting.
Aldor Acres is a busy place in October. The weekend will see perhaps a dozen and a half wagons ferrying pumpkin pickers and fun seekers in and out.
Besides the pumpkins, there are animals and fun things to see and do, plus there’s lots to learn, with people on hand to welcome guests and answer questions.
“This year we have partnered with the BC Farm Museum, and they have a static display of antique farm and household items,” said daughter Gail Anderson-Macadam, who lives on the corner and provides overflow parking on her place when things get really busy.
“Things evolved,” said Albert. “Now we’re open, being at pumpkin time, so what do you do for other times of the year? We open four days at Easter. We open Mothers Day and Fathers Day. And one of the big things has been birthday parties. We provide a roof and the animals for kids to play with and a place to run around and a hayride.”
It’s still a family farm, in all respects. Granddaughter Melissa returned from university, after studying business, and is heavily involved in the operation’s management.
“When she left, farming wasn’t her dream job,” said Albert. “She’d helped. She’d gone through 4-H and worked on the farm when it was a duty or she needed money. We’d always had a good relationship, but she worked and then travelled. She came home and grandma said, ‘Now you’re going to have to buy a skirt and a pair of high heels and find yourself a job.’ And she casually said, ‘I thought I’d work here.’”
“So she’s running the day-to-day operations in the yard outside and Dorothy does the books and stuff,” said Albert, adding with a laugh, “and I do what I’m told.”
After 30 years, Albert and Dorthy are still enjoying the enterprise.
Albert particularly enjoys the ethnically flavoured birthday parties.
“With all the new people in the Lower Mainland, the different cultures, it’s an interesting experience,” said Albert. “I can talk farming with people from the Punjab, Italians, any people who like farming. We’ve really met a lot of really nice people.”
The pumpkin patch at Aldor Acres is open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Oct. 31.