Tina McClement was enjoying the labor of harvesting pumpkins Monday.
“I think it’s awesome,” she said after nearly an hour of lugging the big orange fruits to the side of Yankee Pete’s farm field.
Chatting with friends and getting outside seemed to agree with McClement, but she didn’t much care for the other creatures that consider Yankee Pete’s farm home.
“I do not like the spiders, I do not like the slugs and I do not like the worms,” said McClement, who paused from the heavy lifting to chat with members of the Wright/Schoharie Valley Lions Club.
Lions Club members joined about a dozen staff and clients from the Schoharie ARC for the harvest, gathering roughly 250 orange beacons of autumn to be featured in the ARC’s farm-stand sales beginning Saturday.
Lions Club President Larry Stanley and his partner Greg Hurd commissioned a neighbor farmer to plant about 3,600 pumpkins for the fundraiser that staff at the ARC are calling a “fun raiser.”
The new program gives ARC clients more contact with the agrarian lifestyle and some experience helping to raise money for people with disabilities — the beneficiaries of fundraising by both the Lions Club and the ARC.
It only took two bags of seeds and two passes of a tractor to produce thousands of pumpkins, most of which will be featured in the farm-stand sales at the ARC in Schoharie.
Thanks to the local whitetail deer who helped themselves to some of the pumpkins and marred them, Stanley said a neighbor’s beef cattle will be feasting on the gourds as well.
The effort fits with the ARC’s goal of steering clients towards projects that interest them and fostering relationships in their communities, said Tammy Ruise, a fundraising coordinator at the ARC.
“That’s the whole point of it, to get people involved,” she said.
Though it was the first foray into pumpkin harvesting, clients at the Schoharie ARC have been getting involved in their own farming, cultivating peppers and tomatoes, zucchini and other vegetables.
The ARC started a Garden Club last year after Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schoharie and Otsego counties helped build raised garden beds at the ARC’s facility on Opportunity Drive, said Anne Carroll, a direct support professional for the ARC’s Day Program.
That produce will go a long way during the harvest luncheon planned at the ARC in late October, Carroll said.
The Wright/Schoharie Valley Lions Club will market some of the pumpkins at Stanley and Hurd’s farm stand, with proceeds going to the Lions’ focus — groups that assist those with impaired vision.
And at the ARC, director Tony Alvarez said funds raised go to the ARC’s foundation, which helps support family members of ARC clients in times of need. He expects the fresh pumpkins to be on the farm stand — on Opportunity Drive off state Route 30 south of Schoharie — starting Saturday.