Community Voices

Guest Column: Reflections on Leonard Shymoniak, the Citrus Heights Pumpkin Farmer

Leonard Shymoniak, Citrus Heights
Leonard Roy Shymoniak, the founder of the Citrus Heights Pumpkin Farm, passed away on Nov. 13, 2017. // Image credit:

By Dr. Jayna Karpinski-Costa–
For those who never met or knew Leonard Shymoniak, the farmer who founded the Pumpkin Farm in Citrus Heights, let me relate a few memories and my thoughts about what a great person he was.

When my husband Ted and I first moved to Citrus Heights in 1991, we would see a lone, humble figure every Sunday in a pew at Holy Family Catholic Church on Old Auburn Road. Some months later, we met him at a church event and became casual friends.

Jayna Karpinski-Costa
Jayna Karpinski-Costa

When I served on the Citrus Heights City Council from 2004-2012, I judged for his annual scarecrow contest for several years, where entries received cash prizes for creativity and ingenuity which he felt should be rewarded.

He loved kids and animals. He drove his “farm train” in the annual parade and it was a familiar shuttle at Family Funday. He was proud of his Polish heritage and recruited me to join the Polish American Club in Roseville by paying my membership, unbeknownst to me (I’ve continued my membership every since!).

One year, there was a little black sheep in the kids’ petting area of the Pumpkin Farm and I mentioned my frail and ailing elderly neighbor who had a few white sheep and how I knew she would be cheered up with this cute little “nursery rhyme” black one when the season was done.

Related: Citrus Heights Pumpkin Farmer’s legacy lives on after his death

One day, there it was in the pasture! Leonard just drove down Bonita Way and put it there. That’s the kind of guy he was: humble, unpretentious, not needing fanfare, no chest thumping. A quiet, gentle giant, devout in all his beliefs and dedicated in all his commitments, who loved his community, children and animals.

To preserve the Pumpkin Farm is so like Leonard. He could have made tons of money subdividing the land into a hundred or more homes and rentals. Instead, his legacy is to serve his community! Rest in Peace, Leonard. I miss you.

Jayna Karpinski-Costa is a former Citrus Heights councilwoman and current president of the Sunrise Old Auburn Road neighborhood association.

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