Meet the ‘pumpkin patch’ church

Tallahassee Heights United Methodist Church Pumpkin Patch. Photo courtesy: Asha McKinley

The local community is well aware that the Tallahassee Heights United Methodist Church is known as the “Pumpkin Patch Church.”

Farmer Richard Hamby started the pumpkin patch in 1979 after meeting with a North Carolina Methodist pastor whose church had a financial need. He agreed to let them sell the pumpkins, and they would share the proceeds. In 1986 he approached the Rev. Jim Rosenburg, who was the pastor at THUMC, and offered the opportunity to become the first church in Tallahassee to have a seasonal pumpkin patch. In pumpkin growing season, in May, first comes the vine, then the flower, then finally a small pumpkin. After growing in the patches, the pumpkins are harvested in late September.

The Navajo Indians pick, then load the pumpkins onto big semis. This year is the church’s 35th year celebrating the pumpkin patch tradition.

Debbie Keeling, a member of THUMC, located at the northeast intersection of Mahan Drive and Capital Circle Northeast, says this church is her home and she enjoys the tradition of the pumpkin patch every year.

“I’ve been at this church since I was 5 years old and I’m 75 right now,” Keeling said. “The old church is where I started at and now we have three new parts of the church that got upgraded because of the pumpkin patch.”

An church volunteer who asked that their name not be used, said that the church uses donations to start the pumpkin patch tradition each year.

“Ten percent of our church profits are embarked to start the next year’s patch, while the remainder is given to missions, both global and local,” she said. “Some of our missions include fellowship of Christian athletes, our sister church in Cienfuegos, Cuba, Soloman’s Porch, The Shelter, Teen Challenge, Samaritan’s Purse, and A Woman’s Pregnancy Center.”

Hanna Triplett, a student at Florida A&M University and a Tallahassee native, says she goes to the pumpkin patch every year with her family.

“Since I was a little girl my family and I have been coming here every year,” Triplett said. “It’s one of our traditions for the fall times.”

The start of the pumpkin patch was Oct. 1 and it will Sunday. The hours are Monday through Sunday from dawn till dusk. Keeling encourages all to come out and take pictures while they still can. Also, proceeds for next year’s pumpkin patch are highly welcomed.

To learn more about volunteering and donations, feel free to contact the church office at (850)- 877-6276 or send an e-mail to