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West Bank gets its 1st Pumpkin Patch this weekend

EDGARD — The first ever Borne Homestead Pumpkin Patch will bring joy, laughter and fall family fun to the West Bank of St. John the Baptist Parish this Sunday, Oct. 25.

Admission is free to all at 127 Emilien Court in Edgard. The Borne Homestead Pumpkin Patch will be open from 10 a.m. until all of the approximately 300 pumpkins are claimed.

Organizers Jared Borne and Genice Stipe said the pumpkin patch is a show of appreciation to a close-knit community that has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pumpkins will be set out in the field, and organizers look forward to seeing children’s faces light up with smiles as they race to find the perfect pick. A hayride will be set up on a tractor to take families further into the field. The event will also feature friendly farm animals that children can feed and a photo station where parents can take pictures with their phones.

“I was born and raised here. I went to West St. John. In my lifetime, I’ve never seen anyone do anything like this (on the West Bank),” Borne said. “I took my son to a pumpkin patch years ago, and just seeing the smile on his face running through that field is kind of what inspired it all. I think this is going to be something special.”

For Borne, the pumpkin patch is also a way to pay homage to his grandparents who gave back to the community through farming.

“We aren’t doing this pumpkin patch to get into the spotlight. This is to give back to our little community. We’ve all been friends for years and years,” Borne said.

“My grandpa was the main one that got me going with the farming part of it. He raised seven children by farming and sharecropping. My grandfather helped out the community. If someone didn’t have money to pay for shallots or whatever he had, he would give it to them.”

After her husband passed away, Elmire “T-mire” Borne took over the homestead and maintained a large garden of shallots, garlic, tomatoes, eggplant and other vegetables with just a hoe and a shovel.

This weekend, local families will explore the same grounds the Borne family has tended to for generations.

“That place has a little history to it. To me, it’s very sentimental,” Borne said.

Borne started growing pumpkins in Spring 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. All was going well until constant rainstorms washed out any hope for a successful Fall harvest.

Undeterred, Borne turned to a farmer in Albany and purchased approximately 300 pumpkins to ensure local families would have something to look forward to.

Borne plans to plant pumpkins again next year. He also recently planted 50 fruit trees, which will allow local children to pick their own fruit in years to come.

“If everything goes well this year, we’re probably going to make it an annual thing,” Borne said.

Organizer Genice Stipe has played a vital role in securing donations and decorations for the inaugural Borne Homestead Pumpkin Patch. Other friends and family members have graciously volunteered to secure pumpkins and hay for the event.

Stipe said the pumpkin patch is important to her because she loves the children of the community.

“We’re from such a small community where there is not very much for the kids to do. You used to see kids outside playing all the time and doing little things. Some kids, if they don’t go on field trips with the schools, never get a chance to do things like this,” Stipe said. “This is a really good place to raise children. You just have to keep them busy and give them things to look forward to. Maybe next year we will get to do more. Right now with the pandemic we are a little limited with what we are able to do, but I think it will be fun and give them something to look forward to next year.”

Sunday will also mark a new experience for adults in the community, including Stipe.

“I’ve grown up there all my life, and to be honest I’ve never been to a pumpkin patch. It’s kind of exciting for me as well. It almost makes me feel like a kid again,” she said.

Jared Borne’s sister, Tessie Borne, said it means a lot to bring joy and happiness to a community that often gets overlooked because of the size of its population.

“These communities are graciously combined of three small towns that connect heart and souls of Wallace, Edgard and Lucy,” she said. “Please help us give thanks to our heritage as local farmers and small town businesses spread gratitude, cheer, joy and laughter throughout towns which were hit so hard with the pandemic.”

Those who attend are asked to bring a face covering. Masks and hand sanitizer will also be available onsite.