Saturday will mark the opening of a new pumpkin patch in Napa, the proceeds from which will help developmentally disabled adults visit “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
More than 150 pumpkins of all sizes, as well as gourds, vegetables, crafts and baked treats will be available to the public at 58 Randolph St. in exchange for donations.
The pumpkin patch, which will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, is part of Moving Forward, a nonprofit organization that offers adults with developmental, learning and autism disabilities the chance to live on their own.
Moving Forward will use money collected from the patch’s harvest to finance a trip to Disneyland for its residents.
“Everybody loves Disneyland,” said Rhonda Daniels, Moving Forward’s executive director.
Several young women enrolled in Moving Forward said they were “excited” by the idea of going to the Magic Kingdom.
“Cool!” said resident Cathryn Pearson, 39, who flashed a big thumbs-up for Disneyland.
The pumpkin patch is something new for Moving Forward, which has had a garden in the same location to provide fresh vegetables for Pearson and other residents to enjoy.
Daniels said she was surprised by their first try at growing pumpkins.
“They turned what was a community garden into a pumpkin patch this year as an experiment – and low and behold they grew 160 pumpkins!” said Daniels.
By “they” Daniels was referring to Rita and Larry Susnow, parents with Moving Forward whose daughter is in the program. The Susnows provided the land for the garden a few years ago.
Rita Susnow said she wanted to try something different this time around. So they and some other Moving Forward parents set out in late May to plant pumpkins, plus butternut squash and tomatoes.
The garden not only produced a bounty of pumpkins, but also some rather good squash, said Susnow.
“All of the vegetables are organic,” she said, “and the butternut squash is especially delicious.”
Both Daniels and resident Olive Sondin-Klausner, 30, attested to the quality of the tomato crop.
“I have been picking tomatoes and enjoying them,” said Sondin-Klausner. “They’re delicious!”
Looking out over the lush, green vines of the pumpkin plants filling the garden, she remarked how good it all looked. “It’s really beautiful.”
The Susnows, who have been a part of Moving Forward for 11 years, were happy to help establish the pumpkin patch and expand recreational opportunities for the residents, like a trip to Disneyland.
They have seen for themselves how the program has helped the developmentally disabled to socialize, grow as individuals and become independent.
As part of its transitional living services, Moving Forward arranges for residents to share a home or apartment. This aspect of the program gives them the chance to learn life skills, and to make friends.
“There’s very little out there that accommodates the social piece needed for the developmentally disabled,” said Rita Susnow.
“All of us with disabled children want a program that can help give them a meaningful life,” which includes finding employment opportunities for the residents, she said.
“They have to feel they can do something and have value,” said Susnow. “There should be more programs like Moving Forward.”