Ripe for the picking: Where and how to pick a pumpkin
| 2:40 p.m. October 15, 2015
As the temperatures drop and Halloween aisles spring up at stores throughout the area, two local churches will be opening their annual pumpkin patches this week. Both St. Luke’s United Methodist Church and Windermere Union Church Preschool will be celebrating the beginning of fall with thousands of plump pumpkins from which to choose.
Each patch also serves as a fundraiser for their respective churches, bringing in thousands of dollars that support various faith-based missions and educational programs.
St. Luke’s United Methodist Church
ADDRESS: 4851 S Apopka-Vineland Road, Orlando
TIMES AND DATES: 3 to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays; and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays Oct. 15 to 31
This pumpkin patch features hay bales, wooden cutouts you can stick your head through to pose for a picture, flowers and fall decorations.
The church is selling 4,000 pumpkins of all different sizes, as well as stickers you can purchase to put on your pumpkin.
“The stickers are colorful and have a lot of primary colors,” said Dawn Fleming, executive director of marketing at St. Luke’s.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 17 and 24, the pumpkin patch will host a story time, where children and their parents can enjoy a story in the patch. Professional photographers will also be on site volunteering their time so families can get free photographs in the patch together. The event includes games for kids.
The patch serves as an annual fundraiser for the church and brought in nearly $10,000 last year. Proceeds support the youth ministries, raising money for the sixth- to 12th-graders to go on a mission trip and summer camp. In May, the youth went on a mission trip to Florida City, where they built a playground for a low-income community. The group also attends Warren Willis camp in Fruitland Park.
Windermere Union Church Preschool
ADDRESS: 10710 Park Ridge Gotha Road, Windermere
TIMES AND DATES: 3 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; noon to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Oct. 16 to 30
Come this patch to look through 900 pumpkins of all different sizes to decorate. If baking with pumpkin is more your style than decorating, this patch has pie pumpkins specifically for that.
The patch will be getting new decorations this year, but they are keeping a red barn that visitors can take photos with. There will be eight new scarecrows, as well as garland and other decorations.
The patch also will host a Fall Fun Day Festival from 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 30. The event includes pony rides, face paint, carnival-style games and bounce houses.
Windermere Union Church Preschool raises $2,000 on average each year.
Proceeds go to a scholarship program for preschool students, as well as property and equipment improvements for the preschool.
PICKING THE PERFECT PUMPKIN
Think about where you want to display the pumpkin, and what size would look best for your pumpkin. Also, plan what you want your pumpkin to look like. If you want to use stencils to carve your pumpkin, bring them to the patch so you can put them alongside of the pumpkins you are looking at. If you are using stickers, bring them along or purchase them at the patch.
— Dawn Fleming, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church
Think about what size and what you want to use it for before you come to the patch. If you are using your pumpkin to make a pie, purchase a pie pumpkin. Pie pumpkins tend to be smaller, and their flesh is less grainy and more ideal for baking.
— Bonny Elder, Windermere Union Church Preschool
TIPS FROM THE PROS
Bert Valdes (right) owns the Moon Cricket Grille in Winter Garden but he sculpts as a hobby. Here are his tips:
- Plan with Sharpies. Think of your idea before you begin carving and sketch it out. Take a Sharpie and draw the shapes on the pumpkin to be certain that you have the proportions the way you want them.
- Turn the pumpkin. As you carve the pumpkin, be sure to keep turning it so you have a perspective of what you’re doing from all angles.
Stefan Price is a professional artist who owns Roundtable Productions, a technical support company for themed attractions and the entertainment and film industries. In 2011, he won the Winter Garden Halloween Festival pumpkin carving contest by proposing to his now-wife. He offers these tips:
- Print out a pattern. If you’re new to carving, you can find a pattern online to use. If you’re more experienced, draw your own pattern on a sheet of paper.
- Use a push pin or a thumbtack. Take your pattern and place it over the pumpkin. Get a push pin or a thumbtack to poke holes along the pattern on to your pumpkin to create a “perfect little perforated line.”
- Get your hands dirty. “You’ll learn more putting your hands inside a pumpkin rather than reading about it on the Internet.”