South Floridians don’t get to experience fall too often, so when volunteers unloaded the first of four tractor trailers full of pumpkins at the New Horizon United Methodist Church pumpkin patch on September 30, they knew that fall had begun. The day also signified the beginning of pumpkin sales at the Southwest Ranches patch, continuing everyday from nine in the morning until dark.
As soon as the truck pulled up, some of the more seasoned volunteers climbed inside to pass the pumpkins down to awaiting participants. Before long, four assembly lines had formed and were working to place the pumpkins all throughout the patch.
Motivated by the promise of service hours, students came from around Broward County to help, many of whom were there with their school’s chapter of the service organization Key Club. In addition to the students, volunteers of all ages participated in the set-up process to help the community and have some fun.
“I just like volunteering, and I went last year,” Flanagan High School junior Johnny Brinson said. “It was a lot of fun and all of my friends come [too].”
A Halloween staple in Broward County, the patch has been a place of autumn community gathering for over 25 years. Having gone together every year, many families nostalgically look back on how much they have changed from their first years among the pumpkins.
“I’ve watched my kids grow up in this patch,” New Horizon pastor Peyton Tobin said. “We have family pictures from when my son who is now a junior was nine or 10 months old.”
As with many seasonal hotspots, the pumpkin patch holds a special place in people’s hearts. So many people stop by each year to spend quality time with their family and friends, taking seasonal pictures and choosing pumpkins to carve for Halloween.
“I’ve seen people propose to their significant other in the pumpkin patch, [and] I’ve seen kids of all ages dressed up in their halloween costumes excited about coming to pick out their pumpkin each year like a family tradition,” volunteer for the youth group Kerry Newness said. “People come and reunite in the pumpkin patch, people who haven’t seen each other in quite some time bump into each other in the pumpkin patch, and it’s a great place for gathering.”
The money collected through the pumpkin patch is used by the church and put towards bettering the community. New Horizon assists a number of associations including Florida United Methodist Children’s Home and Hallandale Food Pantry.
Though the first pumpkins of the season have been unloaded, there are more on the way and the church is looking for more help once they arrive. On October 7, 14 and 21 New Horizon will begin unloading pumpkins to replace those being sold and are offering service hours to students who participate. October 21 will feature a “Fall Festival” with a craft fair, bake sale, and kids pumpkin party.
Photo courtesy of Liz West, CC license