Ortega United Methodist Church’s patch celebrates 20th year

Ortega United Methodist Church’s patch celebrates 20th year

The vernal equinox may signal the official transition from summer to fall, but nothing puts residents in the mood for autumn fun and festivities quite like the Pumpkin Patch. When the parking lot at Ortega United Methodist Church transforms into a sea of orange, families come out in droves to stroll through rows of seasonal orbs, snap Halloween photos, and pick out plump pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns and decorations.
Fall has arrived.

It’s a group effort, and there may be a few sore backs in the pack, but youth and adults are all smiles after unloading the semi - Photo by Olga Bayer

Located at 4807 Roosevelt Blvd., OUMC will celebrate its 20th annual Pumpkin Patch when it opens Saturday, Oct. 6. The patch, a major fundraiser for the youth group, is also a major undertaking that requires yearlong planning and plenty of manpower from set up to break down. By all accounts the event has been a huge success, and last year sold out completely after earning $14,000 for youth mission trips.
Barring inclement weather, the pumpkin patch process runs smoothly, almost down to a science. The pumpkins are contracted through a North Carolina-based company, and hale from a Navajo Indian reservation in New Mexico. They arrive in two separate deliveries, the first week of October, and a reload at mid-month.
Getting pumpkins from farm to patch starts with workers picking, then loading pumpkins onto long conveyor belts that feed into semitrailers parked out the fields. When drivers reach their final destination at church, the youth and parents form their own human chain to unload the trucks.
Shannon Jennings, OUMC’s youth director for more than 15 years, said it takes a team effort to unload a big rig filled with 3,000-some-odd pumpkins.
“It just crazy when you see it,” said Jennings. “The whole semi is packed floor to ceiling, front to back. On a good day, it takes about two hours for 50 youth to unload the semi. One time we didn’t have enough people and we were unloading in the dark using car headlights. Since then, youth are required to participate at both deliveries.”
Pumpkins are priced according to sizes and range from 50 cents for small pumpkins to $30 for mammoth ones. Youth and parents man the patch, taking shifts the entire month. Volunteers set up tents, lights, tables, decorations and pallets to keep pumpkins dry and off the ground. Youth help customers pick out pumpkins, carry them to their cars, and keep the patch looking fresh.
The precious pumpkin cargo remains unknown until arrival, but generally includes a variety of minis, decorative gourds, Indian corn, cornstalks and more. With all kinds of activities for children, the Pumpkin Patch has become a highly anticipated family event for the neighborhood. Jennings is thankful for the community support, and is “amazed” by the turnout each year.
“When the weather turns cool, it’s [Pumpkin Patch] a tradition. People come out for the Pumpkin Patch experience. It’s just plain fun,” Jennings said.

By Olga Bayer
Resident Community News

 

Ortega United
Methodist Church
Pumpkin Patch Hours
M-F: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sat.: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sun.: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Piggin’ and Peddlin’
Arts & Crafts Fair – Sat., Oct. 13

 

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