A few years ago when we were in the Napa Valley region in California, we were lucky enough to visit the Stanly Lane Pumpkin Patch with our son who was just shy of 2 years old at the time. It was our first experience of an American pumpkin patch, something which we had only ever seen in movies and TV shows. Needless to say, we were probably more excited than our son was!
So you can imagine our delight to learn that the American influence has found its way to the quiet village of Seegräben in Switzerland. The Jucker Farm is a successful family business which is not only one of the region’s largest agricultural producers, but it has also given new life to agricultural tourism in the Swiss countryside. With over 20 hectares of orchards where visitors can pick their own fruits, as well as a high-class restaurant serving seasonal and regional produce, it is a wonderful place to bring the children so they can learn about the farm-to-table concept.
And being a farm, it also happens to be an excellent playground for the children, complete with a dwarf goat petting zoo, a rabbit pen (including baby bunnies), and old tractors for the children to explore. Simple activities, like throwing apples into the mechanical juice presser, are also a delight for the kids, as is pumpkin carving for the more creative.
Autumn is a wonderful time to visit Jucker Farm, not least for their impressive display of pumpkins, many of which are imported from all over the world. In fact, it was a pumpkin exhibition at the farm in 1999 which prompted the owners to expand the farm into the successful establishment that it is today.
Aside from the child-friendly activities available, one of the main attractions of the farm is its popular restaurant. Brunch is offered on weekends and you can either select the all-you-can-eat buffet or choose to weigh your plate (a common option in most Swiss restaurants and canteens).
What struck us was how organised and well-operated the farm was. Despite arriving during the busy lunch service, the buffet counters in the restaurant were constantly being replenished with hot trays, and the many cashiers meant that queueing times were kept to a minimum. The buffet boasts a good selection of hot dishes, mostly traditional Swiss-European fare such as sauerkraut with smoked sausages, crumbed chicken, as well as pasta with Bolognese sauce to keep the little (and big) kids happy.
During autumn, the restaurant features a seasonal menu with the likes of pumpkin soup, sautéed pumpkin, and their scrumptious pumpkin cake.
On offer is also a sausage stand in the lively courtyard, as well as a stand selling pumpkin soup and chilli con carne with pumpkin. To add to the atmosphere, visitors can also cook their own sausages and stick-bread over an open campfire.
Limited seating can be found indoors (and which you can reserve in advance), and there are also many tables placed outdoors in the picturesque garden surroundings where you can enjoy your food and drinks while the children amuse themselves nearby. If you are lucky, you can grab a table overlooking the tranquil Lake Pfäffikon.
On site is a bakery with delicious baked goods and breads, and also a shop selling their own branded food products, as well as those of other regional and organic producers.
Overall, we were very impressed by the Jucker Farm, not only for its gastronomical offerings but also for its vision as being an activity centre where children can experience a bit of farm life and have some fun playing outdoors. We can’t wait to go back!
How to get there by car
The Jucker Farm in Seegräben is about a 30 minute drive from Zurich city. Limited parking is available in the designated parking lot at the entrance to the farm. If the parking lot is full (which is generally the case on weekends and for those arriving after 11.00), you will be directed to a parking lot by the Aathal train station.
Shuttle buses operate between the farm and the train station frequently (about a 5 minute trip). I would recommend taking the shuttle bus from the train station uphill to the farm, but the walk back downhill is relatively quick and easy (even with two tiny tots). The shuttle buses can accommodate up to 3-4 prams (depending on size), but it would be preferable to travel with a foldable pram.