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J&L Pickin' Patch: Entrepreneurs Josh and Lindsey McNeal started their business from the ground up

How Josh McNeal's passion for growing vegetables, Lindsey McNeal's love for all things fall and christmas, and their beautiful wedding would inspire them to create Fort Wayne's very own picking patch on their 75-acre farm.

Fort Wayne Business Journal story on J&L Pickin' Patch is a flower garden in Fort Wayne, Indiana that you can visit and pick flowers, pumpkins, vegetable and soon to be more. Flower picking near you.

Josh and Lindsey McNeal grew up right here in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They met in 2007, and at that time, Josh was working a full-time job as the Director of Operations for a large franchise, and Lindsey was a full-time Sales Manager. Neither ever imagined they would become farmers and start their own company, at least not until the opportunity presented itself, but we'll get there. First, we'll need to go back to when Josh was a child; he spent much of his time at his grandparent's farm in the summer months with his brother, swimming in the pool and running around the fields. The farm had been in his family for generations. Still, by the time he was old enough to start helping out and learning about everything that goes into maintaining 75 acres of land, his grandparents had started renting out space to other local farmers to grow their crops. Although Josh never had the chance to learn a lot about growing crops as a child, when he and Lindsey purchased a home with 2 acres of land, they decided to start growing a garden. Throughout that time, Josh became very interested in the concept of market gardening, which is growing fresh fruits and vegetables in a small space but still producing a lot of produce. Then in 2017, Josh and Lindsey were presented with the opportunity to purchase his grandparent's farm and become the 5th generation owner. After many discussions, they decided to make the leap from their current 2-acre micro farm to the beautiful, multigenerational, 75-acre farm off Nuttman Avenue in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

After taking ownership of the property in 2017, they needed to do a total remodel on their home. Still, over the next couple of years, while their house was being renovated, they spent every weekend at the farm working in the fields, preparing it for when they moved in. Over time, they have discussed several ideas about what to do with the property, from growing a U-pick blueberry patch, showcasing their love for going to Michigan together to a local farm, bringing the berries home, and making jam together. To talking about growing apple trees, from Josh's experiences as a teen working at an apple orchard. But soon, they settled on three main things; growing pumpkins and christmas trees for Lindsey's love of Fall and Christmas and planting vegetables to continue Josh's passion for growing produce. So they planted a few acres of pumpkins, various christmas trees such as furs and scotch pines, and an array of vegetables.

Pumpkin picking in Fort Wayne at J & L Pickin' Patch. Come here in October to Pick pumpkin or Groudes.

In the fall, even though they were not living in their home yet, they decided they wanted to start selling their pumpkins. They wanted to start gaining the experience of selling what they were producing on their farm. Since they didn't have the ability to have someone physically there to help customers, they chose to handle things based on an honor system. This method is done by trusting the honesty, honor, and integrity of others to follow the rules and regulations set by the owners without supervision. This process went well for them, so they continued to do it over the next few years until they could officially move in.

In 2018, Josh and Lindsey got married at their farm, surrounded by a 2-acre sunflower field and decorated with various flower arrangements selected from the flower fields they grew that summer. On the weekends they'd spend at the farm before their wedding, they noticed that a lot of people were randomly pulling over onto their property to take pictures within the sunflower fields. Seeing this gave Josh and Lindsey the idea to add a u-pick flower arrangements experience to the business. So, over the next few years, they continued to grow and expand their flower fields to prepare for this new service once they opened to the public.

Sunflower fields in Fort Wayne, Indiana at J&L Pickin' Patch. Come to Fort Wayne to check out their beautiful flower fields or to pick some flowers.

In 2020, Josh and Lindsey moved into their home and officially opened J&L Pickin' Patch. When we spoke with Josh, we asked if they were ever nervous about opening their land to the public, and he told us, "Yeah, I mean, whenever you invite the general public to your property, there are certain concerns and liabilities that come with that. Thankfully Indiana is a good state for agro-tourism businesses. There are laws in place to protect us as long as we are not being negligent and we are always ensuring the safety of everyone on the property." He continued, saying, "We were also worried that word would travel too quickly, and we would become one of the horror stories you hear about in other places that open flower fields. The ones that unexpectedly have tons of people showing up and cars lining the streets, causing the police to come out and help manage the traffic. It's just Lindsey and I working the stands, so we wouldn't have been able to manage hundreds of people at once." Thankfully that didn't happen to them; they opened their business and were able to manage the steady flow of people coming to visit and pick their flowers. So far, since they've been open, their biggest challenge has been primarily due to the weather. When it is raining, they're unable to open, and if it rains too much, they have to wait for the ground to dry out a bit because it creates a risk of people getting hurt or cars getting stuck. So right now, it's all about finding a balance and developing ways to remain consistent with the public so everyone knows when they will be open.

Over the last few years, Josh and Lindsey have been steadily growing, learning, and innovating. It's still just the two of them managing everything, but as they continue to grow, they hope to offer employment opportunities to the community one day. J&L Pickin' Patch is almost ready to open for the 2023 season! They hope to have their finalized hours ready by mid-July. The best way to know when they are officially open and see their hours is through their social media pages @JandLPickinPatch. At the start of the season, they will have the U-pick flower fields and some vegetables available for purchase! They will be open mostly on evenings and weekends but plan to drastically increase their hours once the pumpkins come out in September. Once the fall season hits, they will be open most weekdays and all day Saturday and Sunday through the end of October for people to select pumpkins and continue taking pictures in the sunflower fields. Although the Christmas trees have been growing since 2017, They will not be ready for purchase for a few more years.

Fort Wayne flower fields to pick at J&L Pickin' Patch. This is a pick of their flower field with yellow, orange, and pink flowers.

They've been growing steadily at about a foot per year, but Josh is confident they'll be ready within the next 3-4 years. As for pricing, vegetables will be sold individually or by container ranging from $0.50-$5.00. The flowers are sold based on the size of the Small, Medium, and Large picking containers, ranging from $15.00 to $40.00. For those interested in walking through the flower fields, there is a $5 admission fee, but it is free for children four and under. If you would like to hire a photographer for professional photos, you will need to rent out the space. Josh and Lindsey have worked very hard to design the land to create beautiful backdrops for people to do this, so they highly encourage photographers to utilize this opportunity and contact them for dates and pricing inquiries. Pumpkins and gourds are charged by size ranging from $.50-$20, and the giant pumpkins are priced by weight on the date of purchase. They accept cash, all major credit/debit cards, and Apple, Google, and Samsung pay.

Little pumpkin for decoration for your home or event. October is the best time to come out to the picking patch to pick pumpkins in Fort Wayne.

As for the Future of J&L Pickin' Patch, they're excited to start offering christmas trees within the next few years and hope to one day add activities to their fall experience. Entrepreneur Josh and Lindsey have created a new Fort Wayne destination for locals and tourists visiting our city. It's only a short distance away from downtown, so it's easy to intertwine this destination into a date night or to get the family out to create new memories that'll last a lifetime.

Find the time this summer and fall to go out to J&L Pickin' Patch, located at 3522 Nuttman Ave, Fort Wayne, Indiana, to experience it for yourself! Check out their website at to find their hours, FAQ page, list of items for sale throughout the season, and much more.

Fort Wayne Business Journal

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