Local Pumpkin Farmer Gives Back to the Community
For the second year in a row, Wilson Elementary in Caldwell was preparing for their Fall Festival. With only a week until the big day, Parent Teacher Organization Treasurer, Katie Flores, was still on the hunt for one thing – pumpkins. In a final attempt to save the festival, she sent a message through Facebook to Idaho Preferred asking if Crawford Farms would be willing to either donate or provide a discounted rate on a large amount of pumpkins.
“We have an extremely high volume of low-income families, this affordable pumpkin patch gives a lot of our students an opportunity to get one,” said Flores. “They look forward to this each year,” she added.
Immediately, Leah Clark, Idaho Preferred Program Manager, contacted Galen Crawford of Crawford Farms and put him in touch with a desperate Flores. He agreed to donate over three hundred pumpkins to the local elementary school’s fall festival. “So I immediately called her and announced who I was and let her know that we would be able to do that, no problem!” Crawford explained. “Her reaction was that of disbelief it seemed, because she said, ‘all 300?’ and I told her yes. We love to give back to the community!” he added.
“I almost cried when he called!” exclaimed Flores. “All funds raised during our festival go right back to the kids. This helps pay for our field trips that our district no longer provides.” Incorporating field trips into the children’s curriculum is just one way Wilson Elementary tries to make learning interactive and fun. Proceeds from the fall festival also go toward supplies and other classroom needs.
The pumpkin patch is the first thing the kids and parents see as they enter the humble festival, which was scheduled from 6:00-8:00 PM on a Friday evening. Each pumpkin is priced at only one or two dollars, depending on size, making them very affordable for all of the families. By 6:15 PM, there were hardly any pumpkins remaining. “People were here lined up at 5:30,” said Flores. “We are almost sold out!”
Other than a pumpkin patch, this year the family-friendly festivities included a baked potato dinner bar, a market, several gift basket raffles, games sponsored by each classroom with prizes, a bounce house, balloon animals, a tractor-pulled hayride, face painting and the Dutch Bros. Coffee truck.
“It’s all about the kids,” said a group of passionate PTO parents who were volunteering at the market, which was set-up inside the gymnasium. All of the baked goods were made by parents and donated to sell. They also received pies from Shari’s and at the last minute Panera Bread generously donated pastries and cookies.
Everything at the local school’s fall event – pumpkins, potatoes, raffle prizes, games, baked goods, precious time – is graciously donated by parents, teachers, high school students, local businesses and other school employees. They hope to grow the festival each year and turn it into a community event with vendors, food trucks and more, which would make a significant difference for the school and the town of Caldwell.
When asked why he thought it was important to support local schools, Crawford said, “It is important to support local schools because these are our next generation of Idahoans and Americans. I know that a lot of these school’s budgets are shrinking and it’s important to give back to the community who has so greatly supported us!”
Crawford Farms specializes in growing a wide variety of melons including personal sized, red, orange and yellow watermelons, sweet corn, tomatoes, eggplant, squash and pumpkins. They have a farm stand located at 8875 Washoe Road in Payette. Their products can also be found at your local Albertsons and through Grasmick Produce.
“I am extremely passionate about what I do! I loved growing up on the farm and it’s a privilege that most kids do not get to experience anymore. I want our children to be raised in the same manner I was raised with the values we grew up with,” said Crawford.
“I would encourage people to continue to buy local either by things marked ‘Idaho Preferred’ or through our local produce stand. We started it this year and people have been very receptive to it. People are looking to support local and to also actually see where and how their food is raised. By buying local the money stays here in the state and their local economy. Almost everyone that works for the farm and our stand is family!”
Galen Crawford is truly a man of his word. “They were amazing,” said Flores of the Crawford family. Flores and her husband went to pick up all three hundred pumpkins at the farm that Wednesday before the festival. “He is just so busy we offered to go out there,” said Flores, “and now we are friends.”