Nationwide pumpkin shortage has prices up | News

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Nationwide pumpkin shortage has prices up
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Just off St. Johns County Road 210, west of I-95 is Tommy's.

It's a garden center turned Fall festival.

"In the past few years the garden business has gone down just a bit, especially in the Fall," said owner Tommy Outley.

Usually during the year he's selling plants and garden supplies.

But the last two years, right before Halloween, he has turned his property into a family friendly Fall experience.

"I do it for the fun of it," Outley said. "I just love being able to give something to the community to bring folks together."

He is selling tons of pumpkins, literally.

Outley says he has sold more in the last month than he sold all last year.

"It's because of the nationwide shortage, folks are coming and buying them up."

So he has figured out a way to turn his garden business, as well as the nationwide pumpkin shortage, into a success.

"Agri-tourism, yes, that's a good word for it," Outley said.

He has built a maze and slide, has a hay ride, and kids train.

Outley put in a petting zoo and an inflatable bouncy house, and even created his own pumpkin cannon.

"It's awesome here," he said. "People are coming all the time, and you should see it on the weekend."

He says folks are still choosing to buy pumpkins from him, despite the extra expense this year.

"Yeah, pumpkins are 15-20 percent more expensive this year because of the drought in the Midwest," Outley explained.

He concedes that grocery store bought pumpkins will be cheaper, "Because they're bought in bulk."

The pumpkins are sent in fresh each week from Kentucky.

You can visit Tommy's Fun Zone at his property on CR-210. Just go west off I-95 at exit 329 (toward Green Cove Springs). It will be a couple miles from the interstate on the right.

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