CHESHIRE — St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, located at 59 Main Street, Cheshire, , will be hosting its 6th annual Pumpkin Patch beginning on Friday at 5 pm. All are welcome to help unload the pumpkins or be the first to choose their Halloween Jack O’lantern fresh off the truck. The hours of operation for the Pumpkin Patch this year will be: M-F 12-6; Sat 10-6; Sun 9-6. Pumpkins will be sold through Oct. 31.
The pumpkins sold at St. Peter’s are provided free of charge by Pumpkins USA, a company based in New Mexico. The pumpkins are raised on land leased from Navajo Agricultural Products Industry (NAPI) and are grown on a Navajo reservation, providing income and employment opportunities for Native Americans.
The pumpkins are provided as a risk free fundraiser by Pumpkins USA, and a percentage of the sales are provided back to the company for re-investment in the program. The remaining profits are donated to charity by St. Peter’s Outreach Team. In the 5 years which St. Peter’s has held the Pumpkin Patch, over $10,000 has been donated to numerous non profits such as: Episcopal Relief and Development, The Red Cross, ASPCA, Habitat for Humanity, Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. In addition, proceeds have been used to send care packs to our troops overseas.
This year St Peter’s is partnering the with the Best Buddies program in Cheshire to run the Pumpkin Patch. Best Buddies is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Students in the Best Buddies program are paired with other students to establish one-to-one friendships, and work alongside their peers without disabilities. The coordinators of the Best Buddies program, along with the parents and teen partners, will help to staff this years Pumpkin Patch, managing the patch and sales.
Also returning to volunteer in the Pumpkin Patch is the Rams on Demand program (formerly called the Cheshire Adult Transitional Program). This program also teaches intellectually challenged students life skills so they may lead independent lives.
The jack 0’lantern tradition comes from an ancient Irish myth. Stingy Jack was a scoundrel who played a number of tricks on the devil. When Jack finally dies legend has it that he was such an unsavory character that St. Peter would not allow him passage into heaven. Meanwhile, the devil, angered by the tricks Jack had played on him would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his path. Jack carved out a turnip and put the coal in it so it wouldn’t burn his hands. According to the myth, Jack has been roaming the Earth ever since, carrying his turnip lantern. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern” and then simply as “Jack O’Lantern.” Europeans began to carve scary faces into turnips, potatoes and beets. They would place them in windows and doorways to frighten away the roaming ghost of Stingy Jack and other wandering spirits. When European immigrants came to America, they brought the Jack O’Lantern tradition with them. Here they quickly discovered what you already know; pumpkins make perfect Jack O’Lanterns!
In a press release statement the church leaders said they are excited to see St Peter’s Church recreate this tradition in a way that provides fun and meaningful opportunities for native Americans, the Best Buddies and Ram Programs; as well as the many other charities that benefit from the proceeds of our annual Pumpkin Patch. This is another example of tradition, collaboration and fun coming together to strengthen our communities.