For the 24th year, the front lawn of the First United Methodist Church (FUMC) will be filled with pumpkins for sale to benefit the Wesley Campus Youth Ministry and the Navajo Nation. The pumpkins are non-GMO and sustainably grown in New Mexico. They range in price from $1 for miniatures to $30 for extra large, much bigger than what is normally found at the local grocery store.
Visiting the Pumpkin Patch has become a Huntsville tradition. College students, couples and families visit each year to take photographs and buy pumpkins for their fall festivities.
This year a photo booth and string lights have been added to enhance the experience. Most years they sell out by Oct. 30, but any that are left on Halloween are free to the public.
“I love that we get to be a part of people’s fall memories,” said Greg Oberg, coordinator for the fundraiser.
Oberg has served as the Director for Campus Ministry at Sam Houston State University (SHSU) for 11 years. He is a parent volunteer and his son, Lincoln Oberg, is the Youth Ministry President. Through the Pumpkin Patch, the youth of the Wesley Campus Ministry are able to take part in raising funds for summer camps and retreats that shape them into adults and also engage in public service projects across Texas.
“We appreciate the support of the community in sharing the light of God,” Oberg said.
Sales in 2021 were over $10,000, with a net profit of roughly $3,500.
These funds help cover the cost of supplies for building and painting porches and wheelchair ramps for widows, the elderly, and disabled people in need. Last year the youth worked with the United Methodist Army in Orange, helping with projects that are still ongoing from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Their main summer camp destination is the Lakeview Methodist Conference Center in Palestine, where they take part in learning workshops, ropes courses, and field day activities that take them beyond their comfort zone. The youth members take an active part in the fundraiser and greatly appreciate the opportunity to interact with the Huntsville community every year, according to Oberg.
Pumpkin Patch Fundraisers was founded by Richard and Janice Hamby in 1974. Their business fosters sustainable employment for indigenous people who live on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Farmington, New Mexico.
Their “family” now includes more than 1,000 organizations that represent 25 denominations of churches, scouts, schools, and groups that support environmental awareness and civic responsibility.
They use cover crops, soil mapping technology and crop rotation to minimize the need for chemicals. Even the way the pumpkins are shipped is low impact. They are bulk loaded loosely by hand, without packaging or the need for a forklift. Ministry youth and local volunteers assist with unloading at FUMC, which is scheduled for Sunday.
To learn more about United Methodist Campus Ministries of the Wesley Foundation, visit https://www.txcumc.org/campusministrieswesleyfoundations. To learn more about Pumpkin Patch Fundraisers, visit their website at https://www.pumpkinsusa.com/.