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Grows pumpkins as cash crop

By Staff | Oct 16, 2009

John and Helen Scuffham stand in their pumpkin field northeast of Algona. With 25 years of growing experience. Pumpkins are an important part of their farming enterprise.

By CLAYTON RYE

Farm News staff writer

ALGONA – Helen Scuffham had a problem. Matt, her 7-year-old son, was in need of a pumpkin, but she could not find one near their Algona home. To solve the problem, the next year Helen planted a pumpkin patch. Today, Matt is 32 and both he and the pumpkin patch have grown considerably.

Matt was in charge of that first pumpkin crop and he was sold out of pumpkins in two weeks. The next year, he and his brother, Mark Scuffham, were in charge of the pumpkins, and became pumpkin growers all through school.

The Scuffham brothers graduated from Iowa State University. Matt Scuffham works on the family farm northeast of Algona and is employed by Pioneer Hi-Bred International. Mark Scuffham, 29, is employed by Case New Holland in the company’s hay division in Pennsylvania, but still makes it home for harvest.

The Scuffhams’ favorite way to appreciate Maggie's applesauce cake is with a glass of apple cider.

The pumpkins are past the hobby stage and have become one of the farm’s cash crops besides corn and soybeans. Some of the pumpkins are sold for retail locally, but most are sold wholesale.

The Scuffhams created an Algona Halloween tradition when there was an abundance of pumpkins one year. They created a jack o’ lantern lane with families carving pumpkins during the day. The pumpkins were lit and on display during the night.

Helen Scuffham said they had a good turnout for the carving, but were not prepared for the cars that drove through a loop past the lit, carved pumpkins. Traffic was backed up for a mile or more along the road leading to their farm driveway.

The first jack o’ lantern lane was held in 1990 and continued through 1998 but stopped when the brothers were in college. In 2003, the Waters Edge Nature Center Foundation became the biennial host of the event, with Scuffhams donating the pumpkins.

This year the event will be Oct. 25 at the Nature Center on Smith Lake, north of Algona. Carving is in the afternoon, followed by an evening drive among the carved creations.

Helen Scuffham's honey whole wheat bread is a family favorite.

The Scuffhams have also grown sweet corn, but quit because it was too competitive, said Helen Scuffham. Strawberries were good until stores started carrying them all year, getting them from other parts of the country. Today, the Scuffham Gardens produce pumpkins, tomatoes, raspberries, gourds and apples.

The Scuffhams had a small area for growing raspberries that was not selling well and in the mid-1990s, John Scuffham, the family’s patriarch, was ready to plow the bushes under and quit.

At that same time, raspberries started appearing on cereal boxes and on Ziploc bag boxes and raspberry sales picked up again, said John Scuffham. The raspberry patch today is one-half acre in size and customers can pick their own or buy them in half-pint boxes from early August through mid September.

The Scuffhams have three apple trees of their own. They sell empire, Cortland, and autumn ray from their own trees and buy honey crisp, Haralson, Ida red, and wealthy from an orchard at Iowa Falls.

A tunnel house is used to gain about a month on the growing season. It resembles a hoop building, but the covering lets light in and once temperatures improve, the sides can be rolled up.

John and Helen Scuffham sell their produce from a retail office located on their farm.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is now a proponent of developing local food systems. John and Helen Scuffham have been at it since 1985 when they needed additional income for their farm. They decided to grow vegetables and fruit on their farm in place of Helen finding a job off farm.

They joined the Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers in 1985 and credit that organization for providing a source of ideas and information that has made the fruit and vegetable production successful. The annual convention is a “can’t miss” event for them.

The Scuffhams are active with the recently opened Fresh Connections food cooperative in Algona supplying it with vegetables. John Scuffham is a board member.

When not farming, the Scuffhams can be found in the stands at ISU women’s basketball games where Matt and Mark Scuffham have received recognition for their participation as major fans.

Honey whole wheat bread

1 package yeast

1/4 cup oil

2/3 cup powdered milk

2 cups warm water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup honey

2 cups whole wheat flour

5 cups all purpose white flour

Mix the first seven ingredients, plus one cup of the white flour into a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until well blended. Gradually add flour and continue mixing until too stiff for mixer.

Continue stirring by hand and adding flour until ready to knead. Turn out on floured surface and knead several minutes until smooth and elastic and not sticky.

Place on oiled surface, turning to coat all slides. Cover with plastic wrap and clean towel. Let rise for 20 minutes.

Punch down and divide in two. Shape into two loaves and place in well-greased pans. Brush top with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and towel.

Option 1: Let rise to top of pan and bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Option 2: May refrigerate 2-24 hours. Ten minutes before baking preheat oven and remove dough from refrigerator. Uncover and puncture any surface air holes. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Hint: Measure oil in cup before honey and honey will slide right out. “I use the hottest water I can get directly from the tap,” said helen Scuffham. “Because other ingredients are mixed with yeast, water can be a little hotter than when dissolving yeast in water alone.”

Maggie’s applesauce cake

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup margarine

1 1/2 cup applesauce

3/4 cup raisins

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cloves

Cream sugar and margarine. Beat in eggs. Mix in apple sauce and raisins. Add flour, soda and spices. Mix well. Pour into greased and floured 9-by-13-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Apple crumb pie

Pie crust:

1 cup lard

1/2 cup boiling water

Mix together until lard is liquid. (Home rendered or locker lard works best)

Add 3 cups flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Mix and form onto a ball. Chill before rolling out.

Makes 3-4 crusts. Extra can be frozen for later use.

Crumb topping for apple pie:

1/3 cup sugar

3/4 cup flour

6 tablespoons margarine

Mix together until crumbly and spread over top of apples

Filling:

5 cups peeled, sliced apples (I like to use Haralson in season)

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine apples and lemon juice. Mix together sugar, flour and cinnamon. Sprinkle over apples. Toss lightly to coat thoroughly. Pour into pastry shell. Top with crumb topping. Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown, 55-60 minutes.

Apple butter

1 gallon applesauce (1/2 peck Cortland and 1/2 peck of Ida red)

1 cup apple cider vinegar

3-4 cup sugar

2 teaspoon cinnamon

Prepare applesauce (do not add sugar at this point)

Add only a small amount of water (1/2 cup)

When apples are cooked, mix with electric mixer to eliminate any chunks.

Add vinegar, sugar and cinnamon. Pour into large casserole and bake uncovered in oven at 350 degrees until cooked down to spreading consistency. Seal in sterilized jars. Place jars in box and wrap with towels to keep warm until jars seal.

V-4 tomato juice cocktail

9 pounds ripe tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped onions

2 cups chopped celery

1 cups chopped carrots

Scant 1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons pickling salt

1/2 tablespoon celery seed

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Skin tomatoes. Cut tomatoes into kettle. As it boils, add other vegetables, salt, sugar and spices. Simmer uncovered 20 minutes. Put through sieve or food mill. Return juice to pot and boil. Pour into 7 pint jars. Process in a hot-water bath 5-10 minutes.

Contact Clayton Rye by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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Grows pumpkins as cash crop

By Staff | Oct 16, 2009

John and Helen Scuffham stand in their pumpkin field northeast of Algona. With 25 years of growing experience. Pumpkins are an important part of their farming enterprise.

ALGONA – Helen Scuffham had a problem. Matt, her 7-year-old son, was in need of a pumpkin, but she could not find one near their Algona home. To solve the problem, the next year Helen planted a pumpkin patch. Today, Matt is 32 and both he and the pumpkin patch have grown considerably.

Matt was in charge of that first pumpkin crop and he was sold out of pumpkins in two weeks. The next year, he and his brother, Mark Scuffham, were in charge of the pumpkins, and became pumpkin growers all through school.

The Scuffham brothers graduated from Iowa State University. Matt Scuffham works on the family farm northeast of Algona and is employed by Pioneer Hi-Bred International. Mark Scuffham, 29, is employed by Case New Holland in the company’s hay division in Pennsylvania, but still makes it home for harvest.

The pumpkins are past the hobby stage and have become one of the farm’s cash crops besides corn and soybeans. Some of the pumpkins are sold for retail locally, but most are sold wholesale.

The Scuffhams created an Algona Halloween tradition when there was an abundance of pumpkins one year. They created a jack o’ lantern lane with families carving pumpkins during the day. The pumpkins were lit and on display during the night.

The Scuffhams’ favorite way to appreciate Maggie's applesauce cake is with a glass of apple cider.

Helen Scuffham said they had a good turnout for the carving, but were not prepared for the cars that drove through a loop past the lit, carved pumpkins. Traffic was backed up for a mile or more along the road leading to their farm driveway.

The first jack o’ lantern lane was held in 1990 and continued through 1998 but stopped when the brothers were in college. In 2003, the Waters Edge Nature Center Foundation became the biennial host of the event, with Scuffhams donating the pumpkins.

This year the event will be Oct. 25 at the Nature Center on Smith Lake, north of Algona. Carving is in the afternoon, followed by an evening drive among the carved creations.

The Scuffhams have also grown sweet corn, but quit because it was too competitive, said Helen Scuffham. Strawberries were good until stores started carrying them all year, getting them from other parts of the country. Today, the Scuffham Gardens produce pumpkins, tomatoes, raspberries, gourds and apples.

The Scuffhams had a small area for growing raspberries that was not selling well and in the mid-1990s, John Scuffham, the family’s patriarch, was ready to plow the bushes under and quit.

Helen Scuffham's honey whole wheat bread is a family favorite.

At that same time, raspberries started appearing on cereal boxes and on Ziploc bag boxes and raspberry sales picked up again, said John Scuffham. The raspberry patch today is one-half acre in size and customers can pick their own or buy them in half-pint boxes from early August through mid September.

The Scuffhams have three apple trees of their own. They sell empire, Cortland, and autumn ray from their own trees and buy honey crisp, Haralson, Ida red, and wealthy from an orchard at Iowa Falls.

A tunnel house is used to gain about a month on the growing season. It resembles a hoop building, but the covering lets light in and once temperatures improve, the sides can be rolled up.

John and Helen Scuffham sell their produce from a retail office located on their farm.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is now a proponent of developing local food systems. John and Helen Scuffham have been at it since 1985 when they needed additional income for their farm. They decided to grow vegetables and fruit on their farm in place of Helen finding a job off farm.

They joined the Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers in 1985 and credit that organization for providing a source of ideas and information that has made the fruit and vegetable production successful. The annual convention is a “can’t miss” event for them.

The Scuffhams are active with the recently opened Fresh Connections food cooperative in Algona supplying it with vegetables. John Scuffham is a board member.

When not farming, the Scuffhams can be found in the stands at ISU women’s basketball games where Matt and Mark Scuffham have received recognition for their participation as major fans.

Honey whole wheat bread

1 package yeast

1/4 cup oil

2/3 cup powdered milk

2 cups warm water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup honey

2 cups whole wheat flour

5 cups all purpose white flour

Mix the first seven ingredients, plus one cup of the white flour into a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until well blended. Gradually add flour and continue mixing until too stiff for mixer.

Continue stirring by hand and adding flour until ready to knead. Turn out on floured surface and knead several minutes until smooth and elastic and not sticky.

Place on oiled surface, turning to coat all slides. Cover with plastic wrap and clean towel. Let rise for 20 minutes.

Punch down and divide in two. Shape into two loaves and place in well-greased pans. Brush top with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and towel.

Option 1: Let rise to top of pan and bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Option 2: May refrigerate 2-24 hours. Ten minutes before baking preheat oven and remove dough from refrigerator. Uncover and puncture any surface air holes. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Hint: Measure oil in cup before honey and honey will slide right out. “I use the hottest water I can get directly from the tap,” said helen Scuffham. “Because other ingredients are mixed with yeast, water can be a little hotter than when dissolving yeast in water alone.”

Maggie’s applesauce cake

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup margarine

1 1/2 cup applesauce

3/4 cup raisins

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cloves

Cream sugar and margarine. Beat in eggs. Mix in apple sauce and raisins. Add flour, soda and spices. Mix well. Pour into greased and floured 9-by-13-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Apple crumb pie

Pie crust:

1 cup lard

1/2 cup boiling water

Mix together until lard is liquid. (Home rendered or locker lard works best)

Add 3 cups flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Mix and form onto a ball. Chill before rolling out.

Makes 3-4 crusts. Extra can be frozen for later use.

Crumb topping for apple pie:

1/3 cup sugar

3/4 cup flour

6 tablespoons margarine

Mix together until crumbly and spread over top of apples

Filling:

5 cups peeled, sliced apples (I like to use Haralson in season)

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine apples and lemon juice. Mix together sugar, flour and cinnamon. Sprinkle over apples. Toss lightly to coat thoroughly. Pour into pastry shell. Top with crumb topping. Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown, 55-60 minutes.

Apple butter

1 gallon applesauce (1/2 peck Cortland and 1/2 peck of Ida red)

1 cup apple cider vinegar

3-4 cup sugar

2 teaspoon cinnamon

Prepare applesauce (do not add sugar at this point)

Add only a small amount of water (1/2 cup)

When apples are cooked, mix with electric mixer to eliminate any chunks.

Add vinegar, sugar and cinnamon. Pour into large casserole and bake uncovered in oven at 350 degrees until cooked down to spreading consistency. Seal in sterilized jars. Place jars in box and wrap with towels to keep warm until jars seal.

V-4 tomato juice cocktail

9 pounds ripe tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped onions

2 cups chopped celery

1 cups chopped carrots

Scant 1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons pickling salt

1/2 tablespoon celery seed

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Skin tomatoes. Cut tomatoes into kettle. As it boils, add other vegetables, salt, sugar and spices. Simmer uncovered 20 minutes. Put through sieve or food mill. Return juice to pot and boil. Pour into 7 pint jars. Process in a hot-water bath 5-10 minutes.

Contact Clayton Rye by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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