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St. Helena pumpkin patch reopens for 2021

St. Helena families are once again heading to Madrona Avenue to navigate the corn maze, pet the goats and pick up a wide variety of homegrown pumpkins.

“It’s come to be something people in the community really love,” said Matteo Abreu, proprietor of the Madrona Family Farms Pumpkin Patch. “It’s mainly for families, to give them somewhere to enjoy the end of summer and early fall.”

Now in its second year, the operation is run by Abreu and his girlfriend, Lexi Mangola, but Abreu says it’s really a family affair, as the name implies.

Abreu’s father David helped every step of the way. Upper Valley Disposal Service, headed by Abreu’s mother Christy Pestoni, provided recycling bins.

There are also four volunteer employees: Elizabeth Serna, Dominic Pestoni, Sam Raunegger and Thomas Grimes.

Abreu organized the pumpkin patch in his free time when he wasn’t helping with his dad’s vineyard management business. Juggling the two jobs was more difficult this year than in 2020, when the wildfires resulted in a light harvest.

“But I’m still young and have a lot of energy,” he said with a chuckle.

The most popular pumpkins include peanut pumpkins (easily distinguished by the wart-like bumps that are actually excess sugar), the cinderellas that look like they’ve been squished horizontally, and of course the standard orange ones that make good jack-o’-lanterns.

Madrona Family Farms is open at 2366 Madrona Ave. from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and from noon to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Pumpkins are good for more than just carving at Halloween and eating in a pie. They’re also packed full of essential nutrients, some people even consider pumpkin a superfood. Pumpkin has 245% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A, which helps the body fight off infection. It contains high levels of vitamins C and E as well as beta carotene, which are all good for eye health. The antioxidants found in pumpkin may reduce inflammation that is linked to heart disease. It also contains high levels of potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. Unfortunately, you won’t get these health benefits from drinking a pumpkin spice latte. Thankfully, pumpkin can easily be incorporated into several different meals. Roasted pumpkin can be added to chili, pasta, risotto, or combined with black beans for a twist on traditional tacos. Pureed pumpkin is delicious when mixed with oatmeal or Greek yogurt, as well as a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Napa Valley's Heirloom Grain Harvest

Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

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Nile Zacherle, winemaker and owner of Mad Fritz Brewery, shows two of the different heirloom wheats he grows locally and then uses for brewing…

Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

  • Updated
Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

  • Updated
Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

  • Updated
Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

  • Updated
Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

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Rachel Britten, owner of the Mendocino Grain Project, checks the harvested heirloom grain grown at Fisher Vineyards in Calistoga.

Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

  • Updated
Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

  • Updated
Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

  • Updated
Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

  • Updated
Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

Napa Valley’s Heirloom Grain Harvest 2021

  • Updated

You can reach Jesse Duarte at 967-6803 or jduarte@sthelenastar.com.

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