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Pumpkin pickin' at the patch

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Oct. 17, 2010 at 5:17 a.m.

Abigail Robles, 3, picks out a pumpkin to take home Sunday afternoon at the First United Methodist Church pumpkin patch, 407 N. Bridge St. The patch opened on October 6th after receiving 2,560 pumpkins from the Navajo Indian Reservations in New Mexico. The patch will be open until Halloween.

Beyond Jack-O-Lantern carving:

Pumpkins are a fruit and can be cooked in a variety of ways: Pumpkin pie, bread, soup and other desserts can be made from pumpkin. The seeds are also edible after roasting.

Pumpkins make good fertilizer and can be added to a compost pile.

Pumpkins can be buried in home gardens to enrich the soil.

Save the seeds and plant them, they'll grow.

Scoop out the insides of the pumpkin and use it as a vase for a fall flower arrangement.

Clean and wash out the inside of smaller pumpkins, and use it as a soup bowl. Larger pumpkins can be used as a soup serving station with ladle.

Use small pumpkins as dining table place card holders.

source: advocate research

Clark Motley takes his children to the First United Methodist Church pumpkin patch every year, and this year was no exception.

While Motley's 2-year-old son, Bowen Motley and 4-year-old daughter Cora Motley, ran through the sea of gourds on Sunday - posing for pictures and attempting in vain to lift pumpkins far heavier than themselves - Motley perused the patch with his wife, searching for an ideal fall pumpkin to take home.

"We've been the past few years and we really enjoy it," Motley said. "It's good for pumpkin variety and it's also a great fall photo opportunity."

Many area families roamed the church's famous pumpkin patch Sunday afternoon, posing their children in pumpkin piles and snapping their photos while they stuck their heads through painted wooden cutouts.

Karen Ward brought 13-month-old Kaidyn Perez to the patch this weekend to pose the baby among a pile of oversized pumpkins. Amused by the giant pile surrounding his small body, Kaidyn sat quietly in the center of five large pumpkins and delicately held on to one of the pumpkin's large stems.

"I knew I'd get some good photos of him here," Ward, Perez's nanny, said.

Ward was also visiting the patch to shop for a pumpkin to bring home.

"I don't know what I want yet, but they have a lot to choose from," she said.

Each year, the church receives several thousand pumpkins, raised by Navaho Indians in New Mexico. This year, 2,560 full-grown pumpkins of different sizes, shapes and colors were shipped to the church.

"We've got lace pumpkins, bumpy ones, white, green, gray, all different shapes," Linda Reeder, chairperson of the pumpkin patch, said. "You're able to feel and see the difference in the pumpkins."

For the next two weeks until Oct. 31, the pumpkin patch will be open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m.

During the weekdays, the church hosts a pumpkin patch story time from 9 a.m. to noon, and children of all ages are invited to attend.

Profits from the pumpkin patch are filtered into the church's mission programs, Vacation Bible School, community assistance ministry, among others, Reeder said.

"People should bring their kids here because they can get good pictures, let the kids enjoy the atmosphere, and allow them to experience something new."

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