As I left the Nassau Boulevard Station of the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) on the first Sunday of October, I was in a hurry to meet my dear friend Matt Meyer, Master UU Drummer who was leading the service. I stood at the traffic light at the corner of Nassau & Stewart waiting for the light to change and I witnessed a field of orange. Fairly-traded pumpkins trucked in all the way in from our partners in Framington, New Mexico. Yet, I as I drew closer to the Patch I noted that there was diversity in our pumpkins. Orange. White. Green. Bumpy. Multicolored. Different shapes and sizes—the splendid Gourd Family!
I’m proud to say that this is our 12th year! Yes, it represents our biggest fundraiser. Though it raises funds for UUCCN, the bulk of the money goes back to the Navajos who tend the soil and raise the pumpkins in New Mexico. The Patch provides community service for Garden City and environs. We offer concerts in the Patch, face painting, storytelling, apple pies, pumpkin pies, as well as meaningful opportunities for service…. It is truly a magical event! If you wish to set up a program just let us know and we’ll work something out.
The entire congregation is involved. There are jobs for everyone from the littlest ones to those who are older! UU congregations come from near and far to join in the fun. Many visitors sign up to work on the Patch and end up coming to events and services. They unload the trucks. Have programs including “Pizza and Pumpkins,” and get service points to boot! The nearby college Adelphi works with us and we in turn provide them with space for their events.
We’re especially proud to be in authentic relationship with our partners who are headquartered in Farmington, NM. They’ve visited us. We’ve visited them. We support each other. This was a particularly bad year “weather-wise” in New Mexico. Mother Nature gave them two “wake up” calls! Our partners reached out to us. We’ve responded and will continue doing so in ways that will be helpful. That is what congregations do as we live our UU values.
The Pumpkin Patch provides an interesting entry point to being in collaboration with our neighboring and local UU congregations. We’ve celebrated Indigenous People's Day as an alternative to Columbus Day. The Patch is an entry point to engaging in intercultural competency and cross-cultural engagement. Contact CER for the many resources it provides in this area. We’ve hosted concerts in the Patch led by UU Master Drummer Matt Meyer who this year’s Patch on Opening Sunday. Sarah Dan Jones, Musician and Songwriter will join us mid-month to lead worship and to jam in the Patch. Both are serious about culturally appropriate presentations. On the Sunday service on the last Sunday of the month all are invited to come whimsically attired in preparation for Halloween 2016. We’re open daily from 11am to 7pm. Please come by. Visit. Hang out!
Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson
Minister, UUCCN, Garden City, NY
UUA Congregational Consultant, Central East Region