Fall is a great time to get outside and explore new places. I always think of colorful foliage and pumpkins, but recently after a visit to Tojo Creek Gourd Farm I realized there are lots of other gourds to celebrate in the fall.
Tojo Creek, located in northern Wilson County is a wonderful day out for all ages. We visited on a quiet morning and had a tour of the farm lead by the owner, John Swendiman. He and his wife Zena have 40 acres near Old Hickory Lake. They grow 3 different types of gourds – hard shelled gourds in many different shapes and sizes, colorful ornamental gourds and Luffa sponge gourds. Both the hard shelled and ornamental varies can be used for crafting.
(Click on the photos to see the full sized gallery)
We took a short walk through the fields outside and John explained the science behind growing gourds. Both the female and male flower grow on one plant and the vines easily cross pollinate so to ensure the plants maintain the same characteristics you need to start with fresh verified seed every year. John made it all easy to understand and our kids had lots of questions.
After the fields we saw the dried gourds that are available to purchase. Tojo Creek offers all shapes and sizes of dried that can be used for birdhouses, baskets and ornamental decorations. You can purchase the gourds washed or unwashed. They also had luffa sponges for sale as well – our group was really surprised to discover that that luffas are a gourd. We all thought they came from the ocean like sponges.
After our tour outside we went into the Tojo Creek workshop and store. John and Zena have created beautiful works of art available to purchase. If you feel creative, classes are available to make your own gourd art. There are activities that are simple for children and more complex projects for adults. Our kids made “spinners” which are small gourds that you can spin like tops. After instruction of how to wash the gourds, the kids were let loose with a pan of water and some scrub pads to clean their gourd. After they were clean and dry John provided a huge array of different color sharpies to decorate the spinners. When the kids were done crafting John taught them all how to spin their gourds on the floor. A great time was had by all!
Tojo Creek is open to the public on weekends from 10 AM to 4 PM from the first Saturday in September to the last Sunday in November. Groups can come out by appointment for tours and crafts though the year – we thought a crafting night would make a great Moms’ Night Out. Dried gourds and crafted gourds are also available for sale by appointment through the year.
Family Fun Facts
Hours: Fall weekends – Sept – Nov, Saturdays and Sundays 10 AM to 4 PM, or call to make an appointment during the week or other parts of the year.
Cost: FREE to visit, crafts and gourds vary