The pumpkins are coming! And Daniel and Justine Ludwig, owners of Big D’s Bees Honey, couldn’t be more excited about this season’s Pumpkin Fest at Coastal Black Estate Winery.

The annual event at the Comox Valley family farm has evolved into a community staple, drawing droves of visitors every October to enjoy a day full of festivities, including corn and hay bale mazes, hay wagon rides, a petting zoo, pumpkin bowling and the climactic Pumpkin Chunkin’ Trebuchet, where revelers launch pumpkins over 380 feet.

While last year’s festival was a bit more eventful than they had bargained (their debut Corn Maze was laid waste by 80 kilometer winds and record-breaking rain), the Ludwigs nonetheless had special cause to celebrate as the 2016 Coastal Black Pumpkin Fest came to a close.

Not only were they able to successfully launch their new Pumpkin Spice Honey through their BC government-funded initiative, they were also able to enhance event promotions and highlight new varieties of pumpkins, resulting in a 147 percent sales increase over the previous year.

For the Ludwigs, the buy local model not only means better returns for their business, it also reflects a commitment to their community—a commitment clearly shared by thousands of customers braving unprecedentedly bad weather to support Pumpkin Fest.

“Despite historical rain counts for the Comox Valley in 2016, we still managed to host more than 10,000 people during the month-long event and raise over $10,000 for Ronald McDonald House BC Charity,” Justine proudly reports.

Almost as astonishing, the main impetus credited by the couple for driving both in-store sales and on-farm visitors was the surprisingly simple display totes developed for their pumpkins at grocery stores, featuring the Coastal Black Pumpkin Fest logo along with a buy local identifier. According to Daniel Ludwig, these sparked the greatest consumer response.

“We had terrific feedback from people who came to our farm—the display totes either prompted them to purchase our pumpkins from the store or encouraged them to come to the farm in October for Pumpkin Fest…or both,” he explains.

And thanks to a combination of print, radio and online advertising, the Ludwigs were also able to secure a loyal following for their new Pumpkin Spice Honey, now a seasonal favorite in the community.

“This project was invaluable for giving us more brand recognition for the name Coastal Black in local stores,” says Justine. “We should see a continued sales growth at grocery stores and at our event in years to come.”

Good news not just for the third-generation family farm, but for many other families who will benefit from a stronger local economy and the Ludwig sense of community.

Funding: $9,266 provided by the BC Government. (BL247)