Ken Finley of Chinook has been growing produce in his garden for more than 30 years. In the last three years, he has transitioned into the pumpkin patch business.
He explained, “My son and his wife said they would help me keep it going, the pumpkin patch and keep it a family thing, and keep it going for a number of years.”
Ken spent several years working for the county and closely with the Blaine County Library. He contacted the library directors and created a yearly partnership where they set up a table at the pumpkin patch and accept donations for the library.
In year one the pumpkins raised $1,600, taking a small decrease the second, and in 2022 raised more than $2,000.
“Enabled us to expand, like our Lego Club program. And we purchased more Legos and STEAM toys. Last year we got a karaoke machine because that's what the kids ask for, and that's been a huge hit. Now, we wouldn't be able to do that without donations," said Valerie Frank, director of the Blaine County Library.
The extra funding helps provide an outlet for the youth of Blaine County by creating “STEAM” - science, technology, engineering, art, and math - programs that include games and other events.
“Well, I think like years ago when I was growing up, we had the Cozy Corner, and the fountain and we could go roller skating. We could go ice skating during the winter. As the year goes on, there's more computers and stuff like that where they don't get a chance to get outside,” said Finley.
The pumpkin patch is Finley’s way to get kids out of the house while also giving them a place to spend their time - a community service that library administration says is wonderful.
“I don't even know how to describe it, other than it's just exceedingly generous of him to donate,” said Frank.
Finley has used his garden to boost the family dynamic in his community while also getting his together. Ken’s son Jeff enjoys the time spent outside with his dad.
“Good father, son, and family time. Like he said, Lynette and the grandkids come out, great grandkids and it's just good to get together,” said Jeff.
“We want them to know that we're here and to know that there's fun things you can do in the library. It's not just about reading anymore. And we like them to know that this is a safe place to come and that you can do fun things. And if they check out books, that's even better,” added Frank.
“I like to see the kids and the family out here doing something together. That's pretty much what I want. And memories of happy people."
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