RURAL YORK COUNTY—Suggestions of fall have arrived: cooler weather, crops approaching harvest and schools bustling with activity.
Another sure sign of fall, orange orbs are peeking from between their thick vines – the massive pumpkin patch at Brad and Patty Morner’s farm being no exception. But what to do with all those fall favorites?
“We grew too many,” Brad Morner said. “We decided to let the kids at St. Joe’s school sell them – make some money for their school.”
“It is our biggest fundraiser that helps pay for different kinds of things, including our field trips,” said Austin Sipe, St. Joseph Catholic School student.
“Last year we bought a few school supplies for the teachers,” fellow student Olivia Linhart added.
Morner said that the products of the patch have been sold for two years. “Last year we had the kids out picking, and we had two trailer loads,” Morner said.
Fall 2020 is bigger and better than ever, Morner said, pointing out pumpkins with warts, squat green pumpkins and myriad other forms. He estimated 40-45 different varieties were planted. The Morner’s started seed-shopping in winter in search of new and unusual varieties. This year they scored some unique seed from a Backyard Farmer contributor. Morner said he anticipates gathering 4-6 trailer loads. “This year we’ve expanded; we have about three times the amount of pumpkins.”
“It was bigger than I expected,” said parent Laurie Lopez, as she scanned the scene. “I think it will just continue to grow.”
Over twenty St. Joseph Catholic School middle-schoolers, parents and teachers took the school’s bustling activity outside, converging on the Morner’s pumpkin patch, ripping out vines to reveal hidden squash and rinsing them once found. Some were a bit easier to find, like the huge white pumpkin so large it took several students to roll it out of the patch. “It’s just fun to watch,” Morner said, watching the busy students comparing pumpkins and sharing the work.
“It’s good for them to work and do this together,” said Steph Peyatt, St. Joseph’s grades 5-8 English Language Arts teacher. Students had a system for preparing their produce, gathering, washing, sorting by size and loading onto the trailers, executing the process quickly and efficiently. “We’re not having to tell anyone what to do,” said Teresa Kathman, St. Joe’s middle school math and science teacher, who was on hand to help with the endeavor.
The students’ involvement goes beyond the expanse of the Morner’s patch; they help set prices, advertise and serve as salespeople. “It really teaches them how to plan things,” Peyatt said. “We love that they do the work and reap the rewards.”
“It speaks to the quality of children we grow at St. Joe’s.”
See and shop for the unique pumpkins large and small at the St. Joseph Catholic School Pumpkin Sale, 3:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. Friday, September 18 at the school. All proceeds go to the school.
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