A proliferation of pumpkins greets passersby every year on Main Street in front of Jesse Lee Methodist Church. The church’s “pumpkin patch” will be a little different this year.

There’ll be home-made plywood pumpkins on sale, with the proceeds benefiting the Navajo tribe as is traditional for Jesse Lee’s annual fall sale of real pumpkins.

“Normally, the Jesse Lee Pumpkin Patch comes to life when truckloads of these freshly harvested gourds roll in from our mission partners’ Navajo Indian farms, and volunteers unload the trucks bucket-brigade style, passing the pumpkins from one person to another until the field is full and the truck is empty,” wrote Heidi Yeranossian, communications manager for Jesse Lee Church.

“There is no way to safely unload the trucks and adhere to CDC social distancing guidelines so it looked like the Jesse Lee Pumpkin Patch would have to be canceled this year,” she said.

“However, dedicated members of Jesse Lee didn’t want to abandon this critical fundraiser when our Navajo mission partners need it the most. Instead, they got creative and came up with a plan for a modified pumpkin patch that lets Jesse Lee keep this fundraiser alive.

“Instead of fresh pumpkins, we are creating ‘homemade’ ones out of plywood pumpkin cutouts that will be painted orange and attached to wooden stakes and ‘planted’ where the pumpkin patch is set up every year at the corner of King Lane and Main Street in Ridgefield.”

On the weekends of Oct. 17 and 18 and Oct. 24 and 25, people can purchase these ‘homemade’ pumpkins for between $10 and $30, depending on the size, and decorate them onsite at decorating stations in the Jesse Lee pumpkin patch — or the pumpkins can be decorated at home.

“For those who want to compete in the ‘Best Pumpkin of the Homemade Patch Contest’ they can replant their pumpkin works of art in the patch,” Yeranossian said. “The best pumpkin will be selected Sunday, Oct. 25, at 3 p.m. The pumpkins will remain on display for Ridgefielders to enjoy through Halloween.”

While the homemade pumpkin patch is set up, Jesse Lee plans to have informational placards about the Navajos posted along Main Street at the pumpkin patch site. The informational placards will be designed “to raise awareness of the Navajo Indians, their proud history, our long mission relationship with them and the impact COVID-19 has had on the Native American community,” Yeranossian said.

Proceeds from the Jesse Lee ‘Homemade’ Pumpkin Patch will be donated to Jesse Lee’s Navajo mission partners, she said.

More information will be posted on the church’s website at jesseleechurch.com.