By Jonathan Gonzalez
As the fall season arrives, so also are the various pumpkin patches being established at local churches in surrounding areas.
The Buda United Methodist Church (BUMC) is currently hosting a pumpkin patch where visitors can come through and pick out their own pumpkin amongst the hundreds available. The pumpkins are sold throughout the day from 10 a.m. to dusk.
“We start during the last week of September, and typically, go on through to the last week of October, or until the pumpkins run out.” said Dickson De la Haye of BUMC, who is also referred to as the “Grand Pumpkin” for organizing the event.
De la Haye, along with other United Methodist members, oversees the events, which he states has a big turnout with locals and visitors passing through town.
“I’d say about half of the people that come through here have never visited us before,” said De la Haye. “But the other cool thing is that there are those that have made it a tradition to come see us and buy pumpkins and take pictures.”
Shipments of pumpkins for the church are provided through Pumpkin Patch Fundraisers USA, a non-profit organization that operates out of New Mexico where the pumpkins are grown on a Navajo Indian reservation in Farmington, New Mexico. He said the church has received two shipments of pumpkins, which will last them through October.
“In the past, we’ve had setbacks that stall shipments, but this year we have about 5,000 pumpkins for sale,” De la Haye said.
The agreement between Buda United Methodist and Pumpkin Patch provides BUMC it shipments of pumpkins at no charge up-front, which is the same deal they offer everyone. Pumpkin Patch also provides a price line that helps determine the prices for which the individual pumpkins can be sold, although prices are not binding to the list.
De la Haye said the patch has some that are as small as a softball, to those that are much larger. He said a majority of the pumpkins sold are the size of a basketball.
After the event is finished, BUMC will then tally up sales and have a 60-40 split of the revenue with Pumpkin Patch with BUMC receiving the 40 percent.
With that 40 percent, Buda will cover its expenses, which include decorations, hay bales, porta-potties, amongst other things that come out to “less than five hundred dollars.”
The remaining funds then are divided among church groups such as the United Methodist Men’s Group, who add the funds to its budget to help sponsor scholarships, Eagle Scouts projects, and mission trips.
“We’ve gotten so much support from the community, and help from everyone around here. It’s been a blessing and we’re really pleased with the outcome this event always has.” said De la Haye.
Where do the pumpkins come from?
Some local churches, including Buda United Methodist and Kyle Methodist, get their pumpkins every year from Pumpkin Patch Fundraisers USA, a farm cultivated by workers from the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. In cooperation with the Navajo, the farm grows 1,200 acres, or approximately 2 square miles of pumpkins and employs over 700 Native Americans during its harvest months of September and October. They also have a full time off-season staff that is comprised of entirely Native Americans. This has a positive and lasting impact on a region with 42% unemployment.
The farm services over 1,000 organizations covering the Continental US, representing 25 denominations of churches and youth groups, scouts, schools, fraternal organizations, habitat groups and other civic organizations.