For 25 years, the lawn at First United Methodist Church has changed from plush, green grass to a sea of orange.
The church’s annual Pumpkin Patch officially kicked off on Sept. 28, boasting a large array of more than 2,000 of the iconic gourds for all to enjoy.
“The Pumpkin Patch is part of a non-profit organization called Pumpkin USA and churches throughout the country partner with them to raise funds,” pumpkin patch volunteer Vicki Spradling said. “The pumpkins are grown in Farmington, New Mexico, and they are actually grown by the Navajo Indians.”
A portion of the proceeds benefit the Navajo Indians, while other funds collected go toward the church’s many missions and other organizations around the area, Spradling said.
“The pumpkins are their [Navajo’s] main source of income for the year, and we send them around 60% of the money, and First United Methodist Church keeps 40% of the remainder for doing this,” she said. “It’s all done on a trust basis. We’re not responsible for any pumpkins if they rot or go bad we just send them the sales money. To be a part of a pumpkin patch is kind of a win-win situation because what we do with our money is we have around 20 different missions in the community and within our church that we divide our 40% around. Some of these organizations are Habitat for Humanity, the Child Advocacy Center, the food bank, the Blanket Ministry, and many others.”
Every year, the patch draws thousands of local children to frolic amongst the sea of large fruit, Spadling said.
“We have over 1,700 school children coming this year,” she said. “We have different elementary schools that send kids and daycares that send kids and members from the surrounding community that send kids. When they are here, we have several activities for them like storytime, where we read them a story.”
The activities include a science lesson involving pumpkins and their buoyancy, a coloring station and a scavenger hunt.
Although, the classic larger pumpkins are the stars of the patch, the church also offers many other variations of pumpkins that vary in shapes and sizes.
“We received over 2,000 bulk pumpkins from our first delivery,” Spradling said. “We also got quite a few bins of the smaller pumpkins as well.”
To keep the patch looking full throughout the month, organizers divide their delivery of gourds into two.
“We don’t actually want to sell them all because we want the patch to be pretty throughout the month. So we are happy when we don’t sell them all,” Spradling said. “On Nov. 1, we want the pumpkins gone, so we give them away through donations or farmers come in and take the pumpkins for their livestock. Also, people who want to decorate for thanksgiving will come in and pick some up.”
Prices at the patch vary according to the size of the pumpkin from as little as $.75 to $50.
Hours of operation at the patch are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.
For more information on the pumpkin patch, visit the church’s website at fumcseguin.com/pumpkin-patch-2018/ .