Off the Richter scale: Fall City farmer’s pumpkin patch features handbuilt counterweight

 At Punkin
At Punkin' Time pumpkin patch, the kids can ring up their own sales with the Richter Scale, a counterweight scale that children can operate, to figure out the rough cost of their pumpkins.
— image credit: Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

Visiting a pumpkin patch is about getting outside, connecting with nature, and, especially if you're a youngster, doing it yourself.

Jim Richter, owner and operator of the new Punkin' Time pumpkin patch just north of Fall City on S.R. 203, is a master do-it-yourselfer, and thinks children should be, too.

That's why he created the Richter Scale, a huge device that children can use to ring up their own pumpkin purchases.

"I wanted the kids to be able to do it," he said, so he built the counterweight scale and calibrated to the dollar instead of the pound. "They tell me how much it is" he said, and, pointing to a sign that puts a $12 lid on all pumpkin prices, he adds "Anything after 38 pounds is cream."

The patch was also created for kids -- his own grandchildren, who he worried were spending too much time on digital devices, not enough time outside. So over the summer, he and the four of them planted, weeded, and watered some 4,000 pumpkin seeds, and they are helping with the harvest now, on weekends.

Aside from the Richter Scale, the patch features a historic hay ride through Richter's property. Highlights are a look at the historic logging industry, and a stop at the Troll Tree, where Richter teases children about putting his hand in the troll's mouth.

Jim Richter jokes with children about putting his hand in the "mouth" of the troll in the tree -- a face formed by knots in the tree and two strategically placed carrot tops.

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