The History of Bishop's Farm:
In 1971, Bill and Sandy Bishop moved into Wheatland and purchased 40 acres and a rather run down farmstead. Bill farmed corn, alfalfa, beans, and hogs on adjoining rented property; but in 1973 Sandy convinced him that pumpkins were the way to go. Sandy was a trained school teacher and wanted to find ways for students to spend some time on the farm, she figured the pumpkins would bring them out! So with the help of her Aunt Nell and her three children (Bill helped out after he saw them struggle planting by hand for three days) she planted about an acre of pumpkins and invited the local school children out for a visit.
The field trips proved popular, and Bill and Sandy soon learned that many of the kids wanted to bring their families back on the weekends. More and bigger pumpkins were planted the following year, and word was also getting around about the pumpkin pies that Sandy was baking in her kitchen.
An old farm wagon was put into service for hayrides, and the kids' ponies were saddled and tied to a tree for self-service pony rides. By this time, Bill and Sandy's sons Bruce and Wayne were 9 and 8 years-old, and were put into service driving the hayrides and pulling the jumbo pumpkins out of the field. Their daughter Barbara would later help out in the bakery and food service. Sandy’s Parents, Frank and Babe Mullins, helped out every weekend for many years as did Bill’s father.
The farm continued its growth from there. Some big additions were the bakery in 1982, the first train in 1991 and the Cider Mill that same year. The train was upgraded with a new locomotive in 1999 and a second loop to the track was added. Coyote Mountain and our first Corn Maze were created in 2001, and the Hamburger Farm opened in the spring of 2002. Pig racing came to the farm in 2006 (NASPIG starts in 2008); Pigadeli Square with its myriad of dining options was added in 2007; The Sunflower Labyrinth and Fanny Annie’s Candy Shop opened in 2009. The farm was annexed into the City of Wheatland in 2011 allowing us to build permanent bathrooms in 2012.
The Bishop Family, with pumpkins, trains, and family fun for all, Bishops Pumpkin Farm, Wheatland, CaliforniaWe added Coyote Bend in 2013. Charlie’s Carousel, the Zipline and Babe’s Cookieactory came in 2014. In 2015 Wayne & Ann were able to purchase an additional 42 acres of land adjacent to the farm giving us a new crop, Almonds! Fire pits and the Harvest Barn were added in 2016 with much more planned for the coming years.
Bill retired in 2004 with Sandy following suit in 2013. The farm is run today by Wayne and his wife, Ann, along with two of their children Austin Bishop and Meghan Sanderson. Austin’s wife, Chelsie, also helps out in the fall as the manager of the Bakery. So the Bishop family, along with 4 full-time employees and about 450 more seasonal employees, continues to open up the farm every year in mid-September for another year of harvesting memories. Keep an eye out for all of the Bishop’s great-grandchildren in the fall as well; Austin and Chelsie have four girls, Ava, Khloe, Carlie-Ann and Charlie, and Meghan and her husband Ryan have baby Elizabeth born in early 2017.
Although none of the Bishops ever envisioned Bishop's Pumpkin Farm growing to its present size, they are still thrilled to be able to make a living in a way that is so enriching to other families as well as their own.