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Six generations of Cuffs have had a hand in the farm’s success

Pumpkins are ready for picking at the Hortonville farm

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September 20, 2023

HORTONVILLE – Pumpkin season has officially arrived at Cuff Farms in Hortonville.

Lois Cuff – who along with her husband George Jr. (Sandy) are the sole proprietors of the business – said getting ready for the harvest season is much like game day – complete with significant preparation in advance of the kickoff.  

“We call (all of the planning) our preseason, and like any sport, there is a lot that you have to do in order to play the game,” she said.

The list of chores, Lois said, begins with making sure the pumpkins come to fruition and the fields are in good shape.

The Cuffs also spend the preparation time repairing tractors and wagons designed to cart customers out to the pumpkin fields.

Play areas, like the corn and straw mazes, also require configuring and grooming, Lois said.

“The process starts in April and May when we buy the seeds and sow them in the ground,” she said. “The ground needs to be prepared with proper fertilization followed by tending to the crops.” 

The harvest, Lois said, is always at the mercy of Mother Nature.

“The growing season was such a challenge with the drought this year,” she said. “We had to pay attention to how we were going to irrigate the crops, protect them and keep them growing. Sometimes, you just have to say, ‘that is out of our hands, there is nothing more we can do.’ When people come out here in the fall they forget (or don’t realize) all of the struggles to get to a point of harvest.”

A bit of background
The roots of Cuff Farms (N2299 Ledge Hill Road) date back to 1849 when Alexander Cuff immigrated from Sligo County, Ireland, and bought 100 acres in Hortonia.

Throughout the years, Lois said the farm has transformed to fit the needs of each generation.

She said Sandy and his brother Jim grew up raising pigs and cows and growing crops with their father George Sr.

In 1960, Lois said George Sr. dug a pond, and in 1962, began planting strawberries – experimenting with different varieties and launching the pick-your-own side of the business.

Lois said when she took a position as principal at a local school district in 1989, she saw an opportunity for the farm to invite schools out to pick pumpkins.

Lois Cuff said Cuff Farms welcomes hundreds of school children for pumpkin-picking field trips every year. Submitted Photo

The idea, she said, quickly took off and continues to grow every year.

Lois said students throughout Northeast Wisconsin come to the farm each year by the bus loads.

“Sometimes entire schools enjoy our farms and pick their pumpkins, gourds, mini-pumpkins and corn,” she said. “They pack their lunches and play all day. Space is reserved in advance.”

Lois said other groups – such as church and youth groups and boy and girl scout troops, as well as businesses who offer their employees a night on the farm – also visit the farm annually.

“They bring their own food or have it catered in complete with bonfire, weather permitting,” she said. “They can bring ingredients for s’mores and they bring flashlights, too, as the days are getting shorter.”

Currently, Lois and Sandy are at the helm of the farm – with daughter Maggie and son-in-law Alex by their side.

Lois said the succession business plan will ultimately transfer the farm to Maggie and Alex – the sixth generation.

The rest of the team, Lois said, consists typically of students – ranging in age from 13-15.

The farm has 27 employees on its payroll – all, Lois said, working at different times and on various farm projects.

“We put a group of them together to do specific tasks,” she said. “We may have 15 workers weeding an area. We don’t use chemicals – we weed everything by hand, so for three or four days or even a week that may be the project. The nature of our work is flexible, but we don’t punch the clock at five.”

Prime season
Cuff Farms is open to the public on the weekends.

On Friday, Lois said, the wood-fired pizza ovens are cranking out the homemade pizzas, of which she said all of the ingredients are harvested from the farm, with the exception of the cheese.

Lois said Cuff Farms is also becoming a smoked meat specialist offering pulled pork sandwiches. The Cuffs raise pastured forest-fed pigs, which are processed into sausages, hot dogs, roast pork chops and bratwurst.

The Cuffs raise pastured forest-fed pigs, which are processed into sausages, hot dogs, roast pork chops and bratwurst. Submitted Photo

Lois said pastured pork and chicken are available for online purchase or at the farm and are marketed in various bundled sizes.

Every day on the farm, Lois said, is a work day.

Though the farm is closed on Mondays, she said the crew spends it repairing and refreshing the premises.

“Sometimes we have between 3,000 and 4,000 people on a given weekend, and when you have that much traffic, there are always things to repair and rebuild for the upcoming week,” she said. “That is our life during this harvest time.”

Cuff Farms season, Lois said, runs through Oct. 29.

An experience
Lois said the complete ride out to the fields and back lasts about an hour round trip, which includes selecting pumpkins, harvesting corn and enjoying the ride.

During pumpkin harvest time, Lois said Cuff Farms hosts more than 12,000 visitors.

Lois said though known for its pumpkins, Cuff Farms is about more than pumpkins.

It has a certified kitchen, which produces farm-made foods and hosts farm-to-table events.

“We raise hogs that are forest fed that are in their outdoor bunkers,” she said. “We use Becks Meats in Oshkosh to do our butchering – all of which comes back to the farm for sale directly to the customers who pre-order or purchase in-store. We will also be procuring sheep and beef in the future rounding out our offerings to include pork, chicken, beef and lamb. We are bolstering our pastures with hay so when we decide to ready ourselves for beef, we will be self-sustaining.”

Cuff Farms – which consists of about 250 acres over three farm entities – also farm and sell corn, oats, rye, soybeans, asparagus and hay.

For more information on Cuff Farms, visit

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