The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Tracy Thompson
The Times 

Schulke family finds purpose and focus with pumpkin sales

Donations for pumpkins support Seattle's Ronald


October 17, 2019

Tracy Thompson

Doug Biolo has created a gorgeous display of Schulke pumpkins at his 2nd Street business, Nancy's Dream Garden Center.

In 2002, the Schulke family lost their beloved son and brother Cooper who died at age 7-1/2 from a brain tumor. The Walla Walla area family have addressed the heartache of that loss by growing and selling pumpkins. Lots and lots of pumpkins. Father Jeff, wife Kara, son Campbell and daughter Emerson now grow 27 different varieties of the gourds with hues ranging from the traditional orange, to white and pink to blue and green. The purpose of that bounty is to raise funds to support the Ronald McDonald House in Seattle, the place where the family found solace and a welcoming home during Cooper's treatment, from diagnosis at age 5, to his subsequent surgeries.

"You go there, your life is a wreck...and you're going to be there three months, what do you do? You live two and a half hours away, you can't commute, you've got to be right there," Kara Schulke said. "You have to live some place. It is definitely geared towards us who live in the rural areas," Schulke continued.

The pumpkin production has definitely expanded over the years-what began as the Schulke's offering pumpkins by donation in a pile outside their farm in 2007, to this year when the bounty from their 4-acre field is offered at multiple locations across the region.

Waitsburg business-owner Clarence Stearns, of Mr. C's Smokin Co. offers the pumpkins at his business on Preston Avenue, and Doug Biolo has now gotten in on the good will by presenting a gorgeous display of the range of hues available at Nancy's Dream Nursery at 503 W 2nd St. in Waitsburg. Other locations include Hot Mama's Espresso at 147 W. Pine in Walla Walla.

The Schulke's visit the Ronald McDonald House in Seattle every year in late October/early November since Cooper passed away. They visit with the families staying there and "try to bring some happiness to what is otherwise a not so happy time." Commented Kara Schulke. Pumpkins are still available at all locations!


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