WHS senior Aaron Puppo hits on a seasonal idea to raise money for college

With a premium product and perfect placement, Puppo’s Pumpkin Patch seems destined for success.

A lot of perspiration has gone on behind the scenes, but founder Aaron Puppo isn’t taking all the credit for a venture he organized as a way to earn money for college.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VERN UYETAKE - Aaron Puppo, right, is selling pumplins as one way to help raise money for college. His brother, Carson, is always willing to give him a hand.Aaron, a 17-year-old senior at Wilsonville High School, is selling pumpkins this fall at a stand in the parking lot of his father’s insurance business off Wilsonville Road. And he knows his efforts started at the ground level — literally.

The first person on the ladder of his pumpkin success is local farmer Jerry Ryser. Ryser grew the pumpkins Puppo is selling and also passed on handy sales advice.

“My mom was helping me look for farmers,” Puppo said. “Jerry loved the idea. He wanted to support someone going to college. He was really straightforward, very fair.”

Next on Aaron’s list of supporters: two younger brothers, Luke, 14, and Carson, 8.

“My family gets a lot of credit,” Aaron said. “When I ask Luke to help, he’s glad to help. But Carson — I think he’s going to be mayor some day. He’s a doer.”

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VERN UYETAKE - Aaron Puppo, right, and his brother, Carson, look at their sales numbers from the pumpkin stand.It’s easy to spot Carson at the pumpkin patch. He’s the one holding a big sign and waving customers in to survey the pumpkins shining on display. Each one was hand-washed in the family driveway before being put up for sale.

“In the sunlight, they’re sparkly and nice,” Aaron said.

The prices are nice, too. He recently sold a 6-pound specimen for $4 — and a 45-pound behemoth for $10.

“I’ve had a couple of comments that they’re pretty for the price,” Aaron said.

He used two words to describe his pumpkin patch: fast and efficient.

“It’s geared toward people that don’t have kids or have older kids ... People who don’t want the pumpkin patch experience. You literally pull up next to the pumpkins, point, load and go,” he said.

Aaron provided his own seed money for the pumpkin patch, purchasing an initial supply of 100 pumpkins and 50 assorted gourds. After two weekends, he had sold about half his inventory and was considering his options if business picked up as Halloween approaches. It was a good lesson in the delicately balanced mathematics of supply and demand.

Aaron was hopeful that his family had started a new fall tradition, one that his brothers would take up in turn. He pictured himself returning from college to help them man the pumpkin patch in years to come.

“Got to make money for college somehow, got to start thinking about it. And my dad has this great location,” he said.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: VERN UYETAKE - Aaron Puppo set up a pumpkin stand in the parking lot of his dad's business on Southwest Wilsonville Road.When Aaron is not attending WHS, where he is a member of the National Honor Society, or peddling pumpkins, he is applying for admission to Oregon State University and OSU Honors College, with hopes of studying physical therapy.

“I like helping people and I like the medical field,” he said.

With two weekends to go, Aaron was ready to judge the pumpkin patch a success.

I’d say it’s a success,” he said. “I’ve turned a reasonable profit so far and I’m making people happy.”

His mother, Tammy Puppo, agreed that the pumpkin patch had been a success — in many ways.

“Anytime your kids take on something and follow through with it, it’s just a great learning experience,” she said. “I’m happy that he’s reaping rewards for his efforts.”

At a neighbor’s suggestion, Aaron donated a few of his pumpkins to families that might not otherwise be able to afford one. His mother said that, depending on how sales go, he might have more to donate. She didn’t seem too worried about having a few pumpkins left after the final day’s sale.

“We actually love to roast pumpkin seeds, so some of them might just turn into pumpkin seed specimens,” she said.

Located in the parking lot of Jay Puppo State Farm Insurance, 9375 SW Wilsonville Road, Puppo’s Pumpkin Patch is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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