After 25 years selling pumpkins on Highway 1 each fall, farmers John and Eda Muller are handing over the family business. After a few bumps in John Muller’s health over the past few years, the couple agreed it was time.
“We are fields of emotions,” John Muller said. “There's not a day that goes by that we don't cry.”
But they say the patch couldn’t be in better hands with new owners Danny Bretao and Danny Lopes and their families. Bretao and Lopes may be new to the pumpkin business, but both men, who grew up together and now work in construction, were born and raised on the Coastside. Their partners Brittanie Zets and Nicole Lopes have been working at the farmstand all fall, bringing along their kids and even some farm animals to put down roots in the new business.
“Being able to take over the pumpkin farm is a blessing,” Bretao said. “We're trying to keep it as the same as possible, with a few new things. What John and Eda have done has been very successful.”
Meanwhile, John Muller can’t quite tear himself away from the business. Recent heart and knee surgeries and struggles with mental health mean he’s trying to take it easy, but that hasn’t completely stopped him from doing what he can to be part of this year’s harvest.
What’s most important, the Mullers say, is Bretao and Lopes’ shared commitment to keeping the pumpkin patch a safe, welcoming place for families eager to enjoy the fall air and Coastside environment.
Throughout the years, the couple has seen it all, having helped longtime visitors and locals alike through engagements, cancer diagnoses and all other stages of life. And during last year’s school closures, the patch was a place for families to get outside and enjoy the Coastside during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s that tradition, of being there for people when they need it, that makes Farmer John’s Pumpkin Patch special for many.
They are confident the new owners will carry on the tradition.
“This has always meant something to people,” Eda Muller said. “We're thrilled with what they've done, and it's time to let go.”
Her advice to Bretao and Lopes is simple. She wants to see the pair stay true to themselves and their families. As for John Muller, he said he’ll never forget the words of Eda’s father, Al Adreveno.
“His philosophy is that it is always better to be a giver than a taker,” John Muller said.