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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Using an Education degree to teach himself

When people ask me what my secret dream is, I say I want to have a pumpkin patch. Well, not just a pumpkin patch. A pumpkin patch like they have at Vala’s pumpkin Patch in Gretna, Nebraska. It’s a major attraction in the fall – they have bonfires, hay rack rides, hot dogs, just good family fun. The farm was started by Tim Vala, a city boy who got a degree in Education at Nebraska Wesleyan University. He didn’t know how to drive the first tractor he bought, nor did he know how to plant fruits or vegetables, but he taught himself and learned from his mistakes and revolutionized the farm industry in eastern Nebraska. The farm is 152 acres, on which a third of that has pumpkins planted. His wife, Jan, supported the family initially, as a school psychologist. She now works full time on the farm, with their kids and dozens of outside employees.