More than 40,000 pounds of the brightly-colored gourds arrived on a semi-truck Sept. 28 just in time for this year’s pumpkin patch.
Before filling the small hay-covered courtyard at Gainesville’s Trinity United Methodist Church, the pumpkins travel 1,807 miles through six states after being harvested.
The church imports its pumpkins from Farmington, New Mexico to hold its annual pumpkin patch, which has been hosted on and off for 20 years.
In order to ensure the pumpkins reach the church looking their best, trucks were kept at 65 degrees or well-ventilated, as outlined in an instructional letter to drivers hired by Pumpkin Patch Fundraisers, Inc., a delivery company in Greensboro, North Carolina.
On delivery day, the pumpkins ended their four-day journey with a mere 5 percent casualty rate after being piled on top of one another on the truck’s hay-covered bed, said Julie Mishoe, director of student ministries and pumpkin patch coordinator.
This year, the patch opened to the public on Oct. 1.
Lisa Hershkowitz, a long-time patron of the patch, said she’s been coming with her husband, Jeffery, and family for years.
She said they’ve brought their children since they were tiny. She even made an album out of all the pictures taken over the years as her kids have grown.
“We love this pumpkin patch!” their youngest daughter Payton said while jumping up and down between pods of pudgy pumpkins.
Jeffery said they choose this patch over others every year, not only because of its proximity to their home, but because it’s so peaceful and family-oriented.
Erica Cuneo, a three-year volunteer at the patch, said she loves her job because of the people who come to visit. From 7-week-olds and families to teenagers, couples, groups of friends and even dogs, she loves seeing people come to take pictures and start traditions much like the Hershkowitz family has.
She says so many people love pumpkin patches because they are a real indicator of the new season.
“It makes you think of pumpkin pie, which makes you think of Thanksgiving, which makes you think of cool weather,” Cuneo said. “You start to just feel like it’s fall.”