Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

Find the perfect pumpkin and help a church


Stephanie Thompson

Lincoln Potter was busy climbing on top of the pumpkins at the Union Congregational Church Pumpkin Patch.

Residents looking for that special pumpkin for Halloween or fall decorations will not have to look far.

Once again, the Union Congregational Church, which is located at 350 Mansface Street, is selling pumpkins and gourds as part of its fall fundraiser.

Prices for the bigger pumpkins are based on size and range from $4 to $35. Some of the smaller pumpkins are between .50 cents to $3. Event organizers, Pam Kerr and Jeanne Beery, picked out example pumpkins and attached their perspective prices on them. This way when residents visit the pumpkin patch they can pick out a pumpkin, place it near a priced pumpkin closet to its size to determine the price.

Kerr said she isn't sure how much the pumpkins weigh because they don't charge per pound.

"Some of them weigh a ton it seemed like, when we were taking them off of the truck," Kerr said.

The church always purchases pumpkins from the Navajo Reservation, located near Farmington, N.M. She said the pumpkin farm provides needed employment to some on this reservation.

For the past seven years, the church has used its pumpkin patch as a fundraiser. Pastor Curtis Tutterrow began this project for the church back then. The funds raised go to various national, international and local mission projects.

In the past, funds have also been given to the Sweetwater County Food Bank, the safe house and nickels for nutrition. Kerr said after the fundraiser, the church decides where the funds should go.

Each year brings new challenges to the pumpkin patch. Kerr said the pumpkin selection changes each year. It all depends on the growing season and what pumpkins are ready when it is time for them to place the order.

About three weeks prior to the church placing its order, a hail storm passed over the pumpkin farm. Kerr said the farmers lost about 60 percent of their pumpkins. Despite the storm, this year's pumpkin patch still has a wide variety of pumpkins and gourds to choose from.

The church has various colored orange pumpkins, snowball pumpkins, which are white and wee bees, which are small orange pumpkins. They have swan and winged gourds and elf houses.

White pumpkins and gourds are hard to carve, but a lot of people paint them, Kerr said. Others just leave them out as decorations.

As for what pumpkin appeals to a particular person, that all depends on what they are going to use the pumpkin for. Kerr said one boy took one of the wee bee pumpkins and held it by his face and cuddled it as if it were a puppy or kitten.

These types of reactions make all the volunteer work worth while. Church members and their friends volunteer every day to take care of the pumpkins. The pumpkin patch is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sundays from 1-6 p.m. This patch is also open on Halloween. One year, they were the only place in town that had pumpkins on Halloween. She said that particular year most of the country's pumpkin crop had failed.

Kerr said this pumpkin patch is a great place for the community to visit. In fact, the volunteers talk to many classes that have scheduled a visit to the patch. They sing songs, read poems and listen to stories. Then the children can have their photos taken in one of the photo walls, which depict a ghost or pumpkin, or they get their photo taken in the pumpkin patch. Kerr said almost every school visit time slot is already full.

When the volunteers are not busy selling pumpkins they are taking the tarps on and off of them and looking for bad spots on the pumpkins. Kerr said the pumpkins wouldn't last long if they got frost on them, so every night the pumpkins are covered up and each morning the tarps are removed.

So far, the pumpkin patch has been pretty quiet, but Kerr was expecting it to get busier as Halloween gets closer.

On Saturday, Oct. 22, the church will also host a bake sale, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Kerr said they usually have pies, cakes, breads, cookies and brownies at the sale. Those who are looking for a specific item will want to visit the bake sale sooner than later.

Kerr said the church also has pumpkin recipes and is hosting a raffle for a quilt, horse shoe pumpkin and a pumpkin light. Tickets are .50 cents for one ticket or five tickets for $2.

As for the unsold pumpkins, the church gives some to the Sweetwater County Food Bank and pig farmers. Unfortunately, the rest get thrown away.


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