More than 40 years ago, pumpkin farmer Richard Hamby agreed to let a church sell his pumpkins and share the proceeds. Today Hamby partners with churches and other non-profit organizations in 48 states. Hamby's farm ships more than 5 million pumpkins each year. Many United Methodist churches offer pumpkins for sale around Halloween and the proceeds help fund mission trips. We visited Hamby's farm in 2003.
Locator: Najavo Nation, New Mexico
Under a blue sky in Farmington, New Mexico, hope grows on a vine.
Richard Hamby, Pumpkin Farmer: "There's probably 100 loads of pumpkins in here. We grow 20 different varieties and they range in size from five pounds to 40 or 50 pounds."
Richard Hamby started Pumpkin Patch Fundraisers in 1974.
Hamby: "We'll load probably somewhere between a million-six and two million individual pumpkins during this season."
This farmer's crop never makes it to the market. Instead, the pumpkins are sent to churches around the U.S. to raise money for mission projects.
Hamby: "We've got a church in San Antonio, Texas that's actually built a Habitat from nothing but the receipts from the pumpkin patch."
From Texas to Tennessee and beyond, churches benefit from the pumpkin partnership.
Jill Vogle, Fellowship UMC, Murfreesboro, TN: "Not only does it let the youth get more involved in the church, it brings the community in too and it's just a really good outreach fundraiser for them to have."
Richard operates on good faith. He ships millions of dollars worth of pumpkins to 48 states with no paperwork, no contracts. Churches are expected to give a percentage back for each pumpkin they sell.
"It's sort of a fortuitous accident, I never thought it would grow this big but we're almost at 1000 locations and the churches themselves net over three million dollars a year for their projects which range from ski trips to Habitat projects."
It takes six weeks to harvest the pumpkins every fall … but the yield last for years.
If you would like more information about the pumpkin project visit the Pumpkin Patch Fundraisers website.
This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.
Media contact is Fran Walsh 615-742-5131, This video was first published in 2003.
This video was first published in 2003. Media contact is Fran Walsh.