St. Peter’s Episcopal Church holds an annual pumpkin patch sale that gives Oxford residents a unique opportunity to give back to the community.
For the past 20 years, proceeds from the pumpkin patch have helped support youth and children’s programs at St. Peter’s Church. Earnings help with student funds and help send youth on mission trips.
Kara Howland, director of Christian Formation, is in charge of the pumpkin patch this year.
“St. Peter’s has become known throughout the community as the pumpkin church,” she said. “Many people visit annually. Local artists paint pictures of our patch, including Glennray Tutor.”
Tutor, an Oxford resident, is a photo-realistic painter. His lifelike paintings have been featured and sold around the world.
St. Peter’s is on the edge of the Square attracting college students and other community members. This is one of the only places in Oxford where customers can walk up and pick out a pumpkin without having to travel to a farm. The closest pumpkin farm to Oxford is 30 miles away in Pontotoc.
The pumpkin patch in Oxford does not make people pay to look at the pumpkins, and they do not have business hours. Local chain stores such as Walmart and Home Depot sell pumpkins, but the experience is different.
The pumpkin patch is run by volunteers from the church and college students. Marty Dunbar has been volunteering at St. Peter’s for the last 20 years.
“I’m a member of St. Peter’s, and we all chip in to man the patch,” Dunbar said. “Being on that corner is a definite advantage because of the visibility.”
The pumpkin patch has customers of all ages. People of Oxford take pictures of their children, pets and families in the patch. Local schools bring children to pick out pumpkins. Many people use the pumpkins in various ways, including fall decorating.
“Located in a college town has definitely helped the pumpkin patch continue throughout the years” said Howland. “Many college students support it, and out-of-town guests associated with the college help increase pumpkin sales.”
Kelley Lucey, 19, is a freshman at the University of Mississippi who began volunteering for the pumpkin patch this year.
“I like working at the pumpkin patch because the people who come to shop are always so kind, as well as the people I volunteer with” said Lucey.
Pumpkins offered vary in size, ranging from as small as softballs to as large as car tires.
Pumpkins USA is located in North Carolina and is a fundraiser for nonprofit partners that provide products and services. They send sample price pumpkins that help St. Peter’s determine the prices.
The local police and citizens help keep watch over the patch when church volunteers are unavailable. The patch runs on the honor code. Citizens can either take pumpkins and give money at a later date. May people drop off money they owe in the church mailbox.
“St. Peter’s is so lucky to have a supportive community for this project,” said Howland. “Everyone loves the patch and helps take care of it. It is truly a community event.”
Local community members shop for pumpkins in front of the church.
The view of the many assorted pumpkins customers can purchase