Pumpkin patch helps FFA kids travel

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  • Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald Peyton Ross, 6, runs out into the pumpkin patch maintained by the Moses Lake High School FFA Club. Club members were selling pumpkins on Saturday to raise money so that club members can travel to the state and national conventions this school year.

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    Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald Morgan Ross, 13, carries a pumpkin in the MLHS pumpkin patch. The high school’s FFA Club was selling pumpkins Saturday to raise money.

  • Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald Peyton Ross, 6, runs out into the pumpkin patch maintained by the Moses Lake High School FFA Club. Club members were selling pumpkins on Saturday to raise money so that club members can travel to the state and national conventions this school year.

  • 1

    Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald Morgan Ross, 13, carries a pumpkin in the MLHS pumpkin patch. The high school’s FFA Club was selling pumpkins Saturday to raise money.

MOSES LAKE — Eight-year-old Peyton Ross tears out into the field, running from pumpkin to pumpkin.

Looking for just the right one.

“This one is mine!” she shouts as she sits on it.

It’s almost as big as she is, a big, round, orange pumpkin, one of maybe 7,000-8,000 pumpkins and squash of numerous varieties grown on three acres behind Moses Lake High School.

Her sister, 13-year-old Morgan, has been much more methodical in how she chooses pumpkins — a whole lot less running and a whole lot more thoughtful deliberation.

“I’m amazed,” said the girls’ mom, Marrianne Hancock. “We go by here all the time for football, and I’ve never seen all these pumpkins.”

The girls and their mom were all in the pumpkin patch run by the MLHS Future Farmers of America, who were selling their produce last Saturday to raise money.

“Pumpkins work out as a good crop raise because they’re something that we can plant before school gets out and then when the kids are gone, there’s minimal things that need to be done from a student standpoint to maintain it,” said Tony Kern, FFA advisor as MLHS.

“As school comes back in the fall, they are ready to be harvested and marketed,” Kern added.

The proceeds, roughly $5,000, will be used to fund travel for MLHS FFA students to state and national gatherings, such as the upcoming trip by a number of state agronomy winners to the FFA’s national convention in Indianapolis at the end of October.

It’s one of two major MLHS FFA fundraisers, the other being the greenhouse plant sale in late April, Kerns said.

“Trips like that are really expensive, so these fundraisers really make a big difference,” he added. “These are really the drivers of our program.”

Kerns said the FFA had to find a way to grow as many pumpkins as they could on as little water as possible, given the acreage has access to only one standpipe. He said they worked out a drip tape system covered with a tarp to maximize the amount of water that got to the pumpkins.

“This is, and has been, a struggle with water,” he said.

You wouldn’t know it, though, given all the pumpkins — tiny ones, giant ones, orange ones, green ones and gnarly, warty ones — scattered across this small field.

“This is our first year,” said Hancock, adding that she was buying three pumpkins. “And the kids are having a blast. It support the FFA, and that’s kinda cool.”

And she takes a breath.

“This is an amazing crop of pumpkins,” she added.

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