Crosby church just received 40,000 pounds of pumpkins for annual patch

2022-10-03 22:04:19 By : Mr. Andy Yang

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Barrett Elementary fourth-grader Vivian Kominek, 11, visited the patch with her mom and sister after school. Her mom works down the street at Crosby Kindergarten Center and they visit the patch every year.

Some pumpkins are protected by the shade, while others bask in the sunlight at the Crosby UMC annual pumpkin patch at 1334 Runneburg Road in Crosby.

These specialty pumpkins are called elf houses because they resemble cartoon-like homes for elves with the large bottom protruding and the pumpkin top.

Pastor Jamie Lea and his wife Kandace sit in the patch and take in the view. Kandace is holding one of the pumpkins with bumps on it, a highly sought after gourd for its sweetness.

Swan gourds are a favorite among decorators who see the unusual gourds as a must-have item for displays.

Chris Claunch, a volunteer in the patch, inspects gourds to see if they need to be moved in or out of the sun, or resituated in the patch to avoid bruising on the bottom.

There are hundreds of mini-gourds in the patch that are not only used for decoration, but for its delicacy. The little gourds are edible and can be hollowed out and filled with pumpkin desserts.

A full 18-wheeler truck containing nearly 40,000 pounds of pumpkins arrived at Crosby United Methodist Church last week for the church’s annual pumpkin patch, which opened to the community on Thursday.

The Rev. Jamie Lea said he never thought he’d be “selling pumpkins for Jesus,” but the pastor, who has been at the church since 2015, said that’s exactly what he’s been doing since the pumpkin ministry began in 2017.

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“We did a patch in the previous church I was in about five or six years, so I have more than 10 years under my belt with holy pumpkins,” he laughed.

It’s not a money-making venture for the church.

“It does give the church good exposure to the community. After a few years, the kids start asking their parents to visit the pumpkin church,” he smiled.

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Alicia Kominek has been to the patch with her children.

“I work at Crosby Kindergarten Center, and I drive by here every afternoon. We’ve been coming for the last several years since they had a pumpkin patch,” Kominek said.

Another interesting connection is the one made with the members themselves.

“I’ll have people from the church that volunteer to work in the patch and they may come to the same worship service and sit on different sides of the church. By the time they finish their shift, they’re fast friends. It actually builds relationships within our congregation itself,” he said.

When the pandemic hit, everything was shut down, except for the patch.

“We decided to go ahead with it since we were outside and we followed guidelines,” the pastor said.

Despite the circumstances, the patch was still very successful.

“People were looking for something that reminded them of pre-pandemic times,” he said.

With so many neighborhoods restricting trick or treat events, the final night of the patch, members set up a dozen or so tables in the patch and different families decorated them.

“We promoted it like a ‘trunk or treat’ in the patch with candy at each of the tables. For five or six hours we had a steady stream of people,” he said. Surprisingly, it was one of the most successful events for the church with upwards of 700 visiting the campus. The closing night festival has continued every year since.

This year’s shipment of pumpkins arrived last Tuesday. Church volunteers and some folks from the community worked from around noon to 8 p.m. to offload the pumpkins, the majority of which had to be taken off one at a time.

Throughout the patch are backdrop type settings for families to take photos.

“Some people will come each year and take the photo at the same backdrop to show their kids at different heights,” he said.

Some years they have a few pumpkins left in the patch, others not any at all.

“We don’t care if they buy a pumpkin or not. Many come just to take photos and they mill around,” he said.

Students from all over the area come to visit the patch, some with their schools.

“We have a weekday preschool with about 65-80 kids, and they’ll come out and do their daily devotional in the patch,” he said.

They have pumpkins ranging in price from 50 cents to $55.

“We have a wide variety of pumpkins including black ones, swan gourds, elf houses, star gourds, orange, white, green, yellow, and pink ones; we have them all,” he said.

The patch is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Oct. 31 or until all pumpkins are sold if before Halloween. They accept all major credit cards and cash.

The church is planning to host their Harvest Moon Festival on Oct. 29 and the public is invited to enjoy food, games, and of course, candy.

The money earned on the event is used as seed money for next year, Meals on Wheels, Kids Hope – a mentoring ministry in local schools – and other special activities in the community.

To learn more about the patch, call the church at 281-328-2616 or email Lea at The church is located at 1334 Runneburg Road in Crosby.

Here’s a few things you should know about pumpkins:

The church received around 40,000 pounds of pumpkins last Tuesday and are open every day through Oct. 31 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. until all the fruit is sold.

When harvested, pumpkins are cut from the vine, most with simple, sharp hand shears. But don’t think the stem is a handle—it’s not. For sellers like Crosby UMC, Pastor Lea said no one wants to buy a pumpkin without the stem.

“The stem is not a handle,” he said. “Pick it up from the bottom and you avoid dropping it, and don’t bump it because if you do, you bruise it and eventually, it will begin to rot in that area and you have to throw it out. Treat it like it’s a tomato. Both are fruit.”

The cool, afternoon shade shines beautiful highlights on the seasons favorite fruit used not only for decoration but for fruit. The pumpkin is a reminder of the fall harvest.

Many pumpkins and gourds may have bumps all over them. They’re not diseased, said Kandace Lea, the pastor’s wife.

“They simply have excess sugar inside of them and that’s the fruit’s way of getting rid of some of it,” she said.

“Those are the best ones for cooking,” Kandace said, but be careful of additional sugar added to the recipe. Always taste first.

Many of their customers come looking for the tasty gourds with the bumps specifically for cooking, and others are designers looking for that special one for their display.

For decorators, there are numerous colors of pumpkins including the traditional orange along with green, pink, black and these beautiful white gourds.

Pastor Lea said pumpkins are like tomatoes – if they sit in one spot too long, they can get bruised and go bad.

“You have to rotate them. They call it rolling the pumpkins. You roll them over so they’re not sitting on the same side,” he said.

Patrons in the patch will notice volunteers moving them every day, inspecting them, and removing bad ones so no one has a bad experience. They rotate the rest of them to move them in or out of the shade and keep them from touching the ground.

“We have our pumpkins laying on hay or grass because they’ll rot easily so we use pallets to prop them up,” he said.

David Taylor is the reporter/photographer for Houston Community Newspapers / Houston Chronicle and writes news, sports and investigative pieces. He is a member of the Texas Press Association and has won numerous state awards.

He attended Rice University and the University of Houston and has led the news rooms of several newspapers including The Sentinel Newspapers, The Pasadena Citizen, The Examiner Newspapers, and The Observer Group.

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