Few garden crops signal the arrival of Autumn more so than the humble pumpkin. Surprisingly, tens of thousands are grown at Pumpkin Patch Fundraisers, a farm located on the Navajo Indian reservation a few miles south of Farmington. The pumpkins they grow are sold exclusively to non-profit organizations. By Donna K. Hewett. This story is sponsored by CMIT Solutions and Ute Mountain Casino Hotel
It's pumpkin everything season. Few garden crops signal the arrival of autumn, more so than the humble pumpkin. They're a symbol of goodness and hearth and home. Surprisingly, tens of thousands of them are grown at pumpkin patch fundraisers, a farm located on the Navajo reservation, a few miles south of Farmington. The pumpkins are sold exclusively to nonprofit organizations, mostly churches across the country, as a way to fundraise. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by CMIT Solutions and Ute Mountain Casino Hotel. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.
So this is our loading dock. So this is where all the smaller pumpkins are loaded onto the truck. These are called spookies, that's just sort of the names that we come up with for the Halloween themed. These are snowballs and then the smaller version of those are over here, these are snowflakes. We harvest about 12 different kinds of smaller pumpkins, gourds, all different kinds of ornamentals. So this is where they're all containerized and loaded on trucks.
The big pumpkins are loaded in the field. Pumpkin patch fundraisers has developed their own harvest machinery, using a conveyor belt system. A crew of 16 people can load a truck in about an hour and a half. In a typical year, they ship about 800 tractor trailers, each filled with nearly 3000 pumpkins. Started on a small church yard in Greensboro, North Carolina. The family business ended up in New Mexico because of the damage done by Hurricane Hugo.
So, I run this with my parents. My mom handles sort of the logistics and customer service and all the trucking, of course, all these trucks that are here we have to coordinate with them, get them here, make sure their deliveries are made on time and all that, and she does that back east and manages the office there in North Carolina. And then, she also reaches out to new potential partners and grows our business. And then me and my dad, and more of the farmers. And so we were out here six to eight months a year growing the pumpkins here in New Mexico.
According to Leon Nota, farm manager, all the pumpkins are edible, but the blue ones are the sweetest and best used for pie.
This is a small one, but inside... Oh, sorry about that. Had really good thick meat. The bigger one is a lot better, they make really good pumpkin pies, for some reason they are sweet enough to do that.
The family has extended the company over the years with partners in nearly every state.
We're most everywhere, but we're really concentrated in Florida, Georgia, The Carolinas, and Texas. There's also a good many locations in the Northeast. We go all the way to Long Island and all the way to Los Angeles. So, they're everywhere, but it is predominantly in the Southeast.
50 varieties of pumpkins are mixed before planting, 20 different types of just the orange ones, and all are grown on a thousand acres of leased nappy land.
Of course, we've been guest here on the Navajo Nation for nearly 30 years now. It's a great place to grow pumpkins. And we love to be here and be part of the community here. And it's an amazing place.
To purchase pumpkins for next year's fundraiser, go to pumpkin patch at pumpkinsusa.com. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.
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