The annual pumpkin patch outside St. Peter’s Episcopal Church has become an iconic image of autumn in Oxford.
Written by Leslie Criss | Illustrated by Sarah McCullen
Pumpkin spice latte might not be everyone’s cup of coffee, but clearly the bright orange orbs are a foreshadowing of fall and a staple of holiday traditions that take place within the season, including Halloween and Thanksgiving. Folks in and around Oxford know autumn has officially arrived on a Sunday in early October when the St. Peter’s Pumpkin Patch receives its annual delivery of hundreds of pumpkins for its yearly fundraiser. If you’ve been curious about the St. Peter’s pumpkins, here are some fun facts that might help.
The initial idea for the St. Peter’s Episcopal Church pumpkin project was for it to be a fundraiser for the church’s youth.
The first St. Peter’s Pumpkin Patch was in 1993, and today, 29 years later, funds from the sale of pumpkins support the church’s children and youth programs.
The pumpkins are grown and harvested on Navajo Nation land in New Mexico.
Each year 2,300 pumpkins are ordered and delivered.
The large load of pumpkins is delivered to 113 S. 9th St., in Oxford, in an 18-wheeler, and it takes about 100 people to help unload all the pumpkins at St. Peter’s.
The pumpkins always arrive at St. Peter’s as close to Oct. 1 as possible, but the date varies as delivery must be made on a Sunday due to city ordinance.
The St. Peter’s pumpkins are priced based on the size of the pumpkins.
The pumpkin sale continues until all the pumpkins are gone, which is usually a few days before Halloween.
There have rarely, if ever, been any pumpkins left over.
The St. Peter’s Pumpkin Patch has become a favorite place for photo opportunities for people in the community. There was once a marriage proposal that took place in the pumpkin patch.
Members of St. Peter’s volunteer to work in the pumpkin patch, which is open 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Since the pumpkin patch coincides with football season, St. Peter’s has shoppers from around the Southeast.
St. Peter’s Pumpkin Patch information was provided by Kara Howland, director of Parish Life for 10 years, who coordinates all pumpkin logistics and volunteers; Jody Burnett, St. Peter’s rector for six years; and Jennifer Southall, senior associate rector for four years.