Pumpkins support program
Wednesday, 31 October 2012 by Jennifer John
Oak Park United Methodist Church volunteers unloaded a field full of pumpkins for the grand opening of their seasonal Pumpkin Patch on Oct. 15 at the grounds, 5505 S. 31st St. in Temple.
The Patch is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Sunday until Halloween on Oct. 31. The pumpkins are sold as a fundraiser for Oak Park's children's ministry as an ongoing tradition for 10 years. Last year, they were able to raise $4,000 for all the kids' events and supplies throughout the year.
"People come back every year and they look forward to it because it catches driver's eyes passing by, and the people love it," Children's Director Amy Martinson said. "One lady practically jumped out of her vehicle saying, 'That's it! That's it! I saw this one from the road!' She had found the exact pumpkin that she was looking for from driving by."
Martinson said that most pumpkin fans find exactly what they are looking for among their hundreds of varieties. Among some of the most creative ideas has been a pumpkin snowman with a large, medium and small shaped pumpkin body with sticks for the arms, Martinson said.
The popular odd-shaped or white pumpkins are picked for ghost carvings and the bumpy or green pumpkins (sugar warts) are often used for witch carvings. Martinson said that the pumpkins are sometimes used for decoration all through Thanksgiving.
The pumpkins are raised at a Native American Indian Reservation from New Mexico and transported by Pumpkins USA to the church. They are sold without any upfront charges because a portion of the proceeds goes back to the reservation. Martinson said the pumpkins are planted in July and are harvested in October for full growth.
Spread throughout the field, is a wide pumpkin selection with all varieties of shapes, sizes and colors. They are organized by groups that start from two to $30 dollars based on size. There is a pricing table to compare sizes and prices. And all throughout the patch there are green, solid white, multi-colored, speckled, pink and orange pumpkins with odd, perfect and bumpy shaped pumpkins of all sizes.
This week the Patch is hosting several school field trips from Sparta and Leon Heights Elementary. The school children will be able to buy pumpkins for 50 cents that are put aside for field trip purposes. The children are able to enjoy bean bag tosses, hay bales and story time to learn all about pumpkins.
At story time, children learn all about how pumpkins are grown on vines in sandy soil and that they are different because of the genetics within the planted pumpkin seed or from being hybrid. Martinson said the children love to learn how pumpkins make up pumpkin pies, pumpkin seeds and pumpkin bread sold at the grocery stores.
"The Pumpkin Patch is great because it's a big outreach for us, it is a bridge that brings the community and our church together," Martinson said.
To sign up for a school field trip or for more information call (254) 773-3021 or visit www.oakparkmethodist.org.