One of the first type of fundraiser projects Iowa Gardening for Good held was to raise pumpkins and gourds. We really liked this type of project because the planting and harvesting dates of pumpkins and gourds affords some flexibility. The time of the year of harvesting and selling made it easy to connect to school and church functions because the youth programs are in full swing in fall.
Over the years we have done this project as a fundraiser for a number of different end uses that include: buying band uniforms, school field trip expenses and church mission trip travel and registration expenses. All of these projects brought out not only the students to help pick, prepare and sell pumpkins and gourds but also many entire families.
The last time we did a pumpkin fundraiser was to send youth on a church mission trip. They raised over $6,000 dollars for the trip.
This type of project is a great way to get a wide range of people to work together. In this example, these volunteers are all part of a church congregation.
This image shows people unloading, sorting, washing, and reloading pumpkins in a staging area.
This was a great way to utilize a building that used to be a unit for finishing hogs on our farm.
Picking and Preparation
Pickups were hauling in pumpkins from the field as they were being picked. The pumpkins and gourds were unloaded and sorted. Any washing needed occured and the items were then reloaded onto loaned trailers (on the right). ready to be sold.
Ten large trailers of pumpkins and gourds were picked and prepared in one day from this group which included volunteers from all ages.
The "Selling" Place
There were multiple ways the pumpkins were sold, but the largest one was a single Saturday event in a store plaza parking lot. There were seven trailers loaded with the various types and sizes of pumpkins along a highway.
The owners of the plaza were generous enough to let the project use the space at no charge.
The Set Up
In addition to the trailers with the assortment of pumpkins, there were multiple tables set up to hold the smaller gourds and indian corn as well as several containers for "free-will donations." Most people took home pumpkins for decorating their home but one patron bought over 40 small pumpkins to serve as centerpieces for her daughter's wedding reception. Others took pumpkins and gourds to decorate their workplace.
One of the surpising details to us was the value of wagons. There seemed to be a tendency for people to want to fill a wagon and we believe that increased the sales.
Instead of trying to price all the various sizes of pumpkins and gourds, we made it a free will donation payment system. Many people still wanted a guide or suggestion, so we set up a couple of card tables with an assortment of items and had a suggested price for each item.
What to Do With Leftovers
Although the sales goal was more than projected, there were several trailer loads left over that were still good items.
These pumpkins were then delivered to a number of different schools and preschools so all kids got to choose a pumpkin to take home. The DMARC (Des Moines Area Religious Council) center distributed all the remaining items.