Pumpkin Patch will open
Everyone knows it's getting close to fall when the air gets crisper and the leaves begin to turn colors of yellow, red, brown and orange. But fall officially arrives in Lawton when First United Methodist Church opens its pumpkin patch.
Starting Oct. 1 hundreds upon hundreds of pumpkins varying from small to giant will pop up around the church's yard at 2602 NW Ferris. The pumpkin patch is open throughout the month of October from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with the exception of 2-6 p.m. Oct. 30, the day before Halloween. Pumpkins range in prices from 50 cents to $75. The pumpkins are provided by Pumpkins USA and are grown on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Farmington, N.M.
Since 1975 Pumpkins USA has provided churches and nonprofits with pumpkins at no cost. Once the churches or nonprofits finish their pumpkin patches, Pumpkins USA and the organizations split the proceeds. With the cooperation of the Navajo Nation, Pumpkins USA grows 1,200 acres, or 2 square miles, of pumpkins and employs more than 700 Native Americans during its harvest months of September and October. Pumpkins USA also has a full-time off-season staff comprised of entirely Native Americans, which according to the Pumpkins USA website, has a positive and lasting impact on a region with 42 percent unemployment.
Pumpkins USA provides pumpkins to more than 1,000 organizations across the continental United States, with First United Methodist Church of Lawton being one of them. According to Mikel Araujo, director of worship and connection ministries, the church hosted its pumpkin patch for 11 years and then took a four-year break. Last year was the first year for the church to open its pumpkin patch after its break, and this year marks its second year back.
"It's a really good thing for the community, I think," Araujo said, "and it's a good thing for the church. It helps us raise funds for our projects that we're doing."