Deb and Bob Stoffel stood in their pumpkin patch

Deb (left) and Bob Stoffel stood in their pumpkin patch within the Belle Plaine city limits. The couple first planted the patch in order to fill in their southern lawn that had a hard time growing grass last year.

When Deb and Bob Stoffel moved into their house on the corner of North Cedar Street and East State Street in Belle Plaine, their southern lawn was in rough shape at best.

“The ground was sour and didn’t want to grow much, even grass, after we fertilized it,” Bob said from within the couple’s garage.

So instead of hauling in fresh dirt and working the land ad nauseam, the couple decided to take a different route that allowed them to take a more hands-off approach to their home’s curb appeal. Where most in Belle Plaine have grass, the Stoffels have award-winning pumpkins.

“It was really haul a couple loads of dirt in and get with the program or put the pumpkins in and turn them loose,” Bob said.

The roughly 20-by-40-foot patch has filled their lawn for the last couple of years, and the pair said they have no intentions of changing things up either.

When asked how much time the couple puts into the patch’s maintenance, Bob said it takes “way less time than it takes to mow it.” Steady rains this year have also made the biggest hurdle, watering the gourds, far more manageable.

Despite the lack of effort, the pair has reaped the rewards of their unorthodox lawn in more ways than one.

Deb recently entered one of their pumpkins into the Le Sueur County Fair and came home with a blue ribbon. But the tangible rewards like ribbons are as moving as the intangible reward of making neighbors and young family members happy.

“People stop and look,” Deb said before explaining that the couple gives away numerous pumpkins to grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and young neighbors. “It’s really for the little ones.”

Deb was unwilling to divulge the source of the couple’s seeds, but she was willing to say that she would like to go bigger for next year.

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