Family shares life on the farm every October


October 08, 2002|By Debra Taylor Young | Debra Taylor Young,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

EVERY OCTOBER for the past 15 years, husband and wife Joe and Debbie Buppert have offered hayrides to the public at their family farm in Eldersburg.

Debbie Buppert said the hayrides at Doran's Chance Farm aren't just a Halloween event, although the ride stops in a pumpkin patch where everyone can choose a pumpkin. More importantly for Debbie, it is an opportunity to provide information to the public about a life she loves - farming.

"I didn't realize how little people know about farming," she says. "One day a man asked if we had any broccoli. I said I could run down the hill and cut some. Afterwards, he said, `I didn't know that was where broccoli came from.'"

Buppert says her husband grew up on the farm they own and operate. The farm was started by his father, Doran Buppert, a Bethlehem Steel Corp. employee who left Baltimore in 1951 and bought the Carroll County property.

"My mother-in-law says it was `Daddy's chance to farm,'" says Buppert, adding that the family took a big risk to begin the new venture.

While Joe grew up learning to farm, Debbie was learning about plants and flowers from her grandfather Bill Tanner. He taught her about flower propagation, a subject she found fascinating. Her love for flowers would serve her well.

When she and Joe met in the late 1970s and married, they were at a crossroads. They both had graduated from college, but Joe and his brother Frank were trying to decide what to do about the family farm. Doran had passed away, and their mother, Helen, still lived there. The two brothers and Debbie decided to stay with her on the farm and make a go of it.

They incorporated the farm as Doran's Chance Farm Inc. and set up stands to sell their produce. They also grew market packs and perennials in their greenhouses. When nearby schools began asking for hayrides and field trips to the farm, the Bupperts decided to accommodate the requests.

"We wanted to keep it small," she says. "Just offer rides to people in the area."

Although they don't advertise to draw people from other areas to the farm, word of mouth has made the hayrides popular.

The Bupperts believe that their choice to stay on the farm has proven to be a good one. This year, the farm will play host to visits from kindergarten and elementary school children, and from a senior center.

Debbie usually drives the tractor for the school groups and teaches them about farming and harvesting, using pumpkins as the example. After the ride, she splits open a pumpkin so the kids can see the seeds, which will be used for next year's crop.

The farm has grown over the years, previously selling produce from a 20-foot-by-20-foot stand by the roadside. Now a market sits off Ridge Road, where a large variety of fresh fruits and vegetables are for sale, as well as perennials, greenhouse plants and, of course, pumpkins.

The Bupperts' four children, ranging in age from 9 to 23, have grown up helping on the farm and at the market.

"It's hot, dirty, heavy work," says Debbie Buppert. Their growing season begins in the greenhouses in March. Then, they till and plant the fields, working seven days a week until Nov. 2, when they close their market and take time off in the winter.

Although the children have complained about the work on the farm, and that no sidewalks or other houses are nearby, Debbie Buppert believes they eventually will value their farm upbringing.

The Bupperts' hayrides begin at noon Sundays this month for the public. The cost is $5 and includes the hayride to a pumpkin patch, a pumpkin, a visit to their corn maze and their petting zoo.

Information: 410-795-6815.

Fishing tournament

Piney Run Park will hold its annual Fall Fishing Tournament from 6 a.m. to noon Saturday at the park on Martz Road.

This year's challenge will be to catch a tiger muskie that would be the first to meet the 36-inch requirement for a $400 cash prize. Park staff stocked Piney Run Lake with the hybrid species over several years, and the fish are getting large enough to be prize-winners.

Park manager Loren Lustig says the fish were large enough last year, but an angler who caught a 36-inch qualifying tiger muskie lost it when it bit through his line. The line was not the proper weight.

Lustig says anglers should be prepared this year with proper lines. Many of the muskies in the lake have reached or exceeded the 36-inch requirement, the manager says.

Other categories qualify for cash prizes, and a trophy will be given for largest fish in its category.

Information: 410-795-3274.

Debra Taylor Young's neighborhood column appears each Tuesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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