From lattes and pastries to pick-your-own patches, Waterloo Region is Fall-ing for pumpkins!
by Andrew Coppolino | September 2023
It’s more polarizing than galvanizing, but for many people adding pumpkin to their coffee is just plain appetizing. And for nearly two decades, an international coffeehouse giant has led the PSL craze with its pumpkin-spice lattes, cream cold brews and chai teas, not to mention muffins.
Here in Waterloo Region, there are plenty of ways to feed your pumpkin passion! From baked goods, coffees, and desserts to restaurants incorporating pumpkin into their fall menus (along with the spices that make you think of homemade pumpkin pie!), the pumpkins used for these culinary creations are often grown right here.
Here are a few ways to enjoy pumpkin spice season in Waterloo Region – along with a few pumpkin patch suggestions so you can take a gourd home with you to enjoy later!
Where to Get your Pumpkin Fix
In downtown Kitchener, Jon Rennie, a co-owner of Odd Duck Wine and Provisions, says he’s ready to incorporate what he calls pumpkin’s versatility and unique qualities into his cooking.
“Marina di Chioggia (pumpkins) make incredible roasted chunks or purées, while pie pumpkins go from sweet to savoury applications,” he says in his own version of Pumpkin 101.
“Orange Hokkaido pumpkins have a nutty depth of flavour that makes it perfect to swim in spicy, creamy sauces. There’s a wild world of flavours that complement pumpkin – your imagination is the only real limit.”
Pop by Odd Duck to see what Chef Rennie’s imagination is creating your dinner plate!
Aura Hertzog of AURA-LA Pastries and Provisions features pumpkin-driven baking at her shop in downtown Kitchener that includes scones, ice cream and pumpkin whoopie pies.
“We’ll also have a pumpkin version of our unique Breton pastry called ‘kouign amann’,” Hertzog says.
Uptown Waterloo’s CE Food Experience and Bakery – specialists offering gluten-free, vegan, egg-free and dairy-free options at all times – will have several pumpkin selections such as a mini loaf and beautiful “pumpkin spice twists.”
“They are similar to cinnamon rolls , but the filling is a spiced pumpkin butter. I love pumpkin everything,” owner Ce Johnston says with a laugh. “I would have pumpkin goods here much earlier, but my head baker won’t let me!”
As the season rolls in, the Stone Crock Bakery in St. Jacobs will feature several pumpkin-inspired items: pumpkin-spice tea balls, cheesecake, loaf – and how can you refuse a pumpkin whoopie pie?
Tiny Cakes set up shop in downtown Cambridge in 2010. They wanted to provide a cupcake-challenged community with a bricks-and-mortar bakery where they could get sweets like chocolate-raspberry and cherry cheesecake cupcakes as well as Napoleon Custard Squares. When it comes to pumpkin, Tiny Cakes owner Jen Gralec says they are putting together a parade of pumpkin goodies.
“We are planning for pumpkin tarts including pumpkin butter tarts and pumpkin cheesecake cupcakes starting the first week of September,” Gralec says. “With apologies for being cheesy, it’s time to pumpkin-spice things up at Tiny Cakes!”
At Cambridge’s Argyle Arms, a pub with Scottish roots and a new elevated menu thanks to the “H86” culinary operations of chef Denis Hernandez, pumpkin is both the foodstuff and the vessel that holds it.
“I get pie pumpkins, hollow them out then roast the meat and make a soup. It’s finished with crème fraiche and spiced pepitas. I usually roast the whole pie pumpkin as well and serve soup inside,” Hernandez says.
As for beverages, bartender and mixologist extraordinaire Aaron Hatchell of S&V Uptown in Waterloo has created a cocktail that resonates with a fall pumpkin-esque flavour profile.
He calls it “Fall Fashion.”
“It’s spirit-forward fall-spiced take on the classic Old Fashioned,” Hatchell explains.
“Filled with aromatic flavours coming from chai, cinnamon, angostura and vanilla with some light smoke, this cocktail will give you all the fall feels.”
Pumpkin Patches in Waterloo Region
Good Family Pumpkins
Byron and Karen Good have owned their farm since 1994, and their children are heavily involved with its operation too. The 20-acre farm is chock-full of fall produce such as gourds, squash and, of course, pumpkins. The well-organized layout includes sorting according to size.
“What we sell, we grow,” says Karen Good, adding that the produce is sold by the piece not by weight. “Everything is growing well. We just need some sunshine to really ripen things up.”
Particularly popular pumpkins include varieties that are blue, pink, yellow, white and warty, according to Good. “They are hugely popular and most of them are edible. Many people don’t even buy the orange pumpkins.”
The well-organized layout includes sorting according to size, and there is a “photo patch” for taking pictures. The farm is open September 15 until Halloween – and depending on seasonality perhaps into November.
Shantz Family Farm
Operating since 1870, Shantz Family Farm are pumpkin purveyors par excellence. Starting after September 26 (until November 1), the farm offers both regular pumpkin and squash sales as well as U-Pick pumpkins. They also sell a selection of squashes, gourds, decorative corn, corn stalks and straw bales – perfect for fall decorating!
Herrle’s Country Farm Market
Another Waterloo Region produce anchor, including pumpkins, Herrle’s Country Farm Market in St. Agatha is top of mind for locals looking for strawberries and sweet corn, but they also grow over 200 acres of fruits and vegetables – including plenty of pumpkins.
“We have 10 acres of pumpkins,” says James Herrle. “Pumpkins are a unique crop. I love hearing the bees pollinating the pumpkin flowers in late July and August.”
Pumpkins at Herrle’s are pre-picked for you and include traditional orange “jack-o-lantern” pumpkins as well as coloured, striped and warty varieties.
A bonus: inside the store, you’ll find fall-season favourite snacks like pumpkin muffins, whoopie pies, and pies and tarts all made on-site.
For more pumpkin patches in Waterloo Region – as well as where to find corn mazes – check out the link below.
Andrew Coppolino is food columnist with CBC-KW and Metroland newspapers. The author of Farm to Table (Swan Parade Press) and co-author of Cooking with Shakespeare (Greenwood Press), he is the 2022 “Joseph Hoare Gastronomic Writer-in-Residence” at the Stratford Chefs School. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @andrewcoppolino.