Hamilton: A Pumpkin Lovers Paradise
People celebrate Halloween with great enthusiasm. Many decorate their homes, spend hours making a costume, and try their best to put on a scare. But the most popular part of Halloween is of course, the pumpkin. Carving and decorating pumpkins started when the event of Halloween came to North America. Pumpkins were discovered to be easier to carve than the original jack-o'-lanterns that were carved from turnips, potatoes, or beets. Pumpkins belong to the Cucurbitaceae family along with many other different kinds of squash, zucchini, and melons. People began using pumpkins because they were fast growing, plentiful, and provided a sturdy structure for carving.
Halloween in Hamilton, and the celebration of all things pumpkin, does not disappoint. No, I am not talking about the explosion of everything pumpkin flavoured, including the infamous pumpkin spiced latte and numerous Pumpkin Festivals. What I am talking about has much more importance to the greater Hamilton community! For several years, countless farms in Hamilton grow pumpkins to serve the demand for the popular fall activity of picking your own pumpkins (and taking a few pictures along the way). Providing fun fall activities for people and families revolving around pumpkins and Halloween have been a very resourceful way for farms to gain alternative revenue. The agro-tourism business of pumpkin picking, (haunted) hay rides, and corn mazes, etc. have attracted large numbers of people to the Hamilton area as well as encouraged Hamiltonians to visit and support local farms. Many Hamiltonians live in or near the downtown area and some are unaware of how much agricultural land is actually present in Hamilton.
These pumpkin ventures not only benefit small farm operations; they also function to bring rural and urban people together. They provide an opportunity to educate people by increasing awareness of agricultural rewards, challenges, and culinary delights. Bringing to life the “farm to table” movement helps educate people about where their food comes from, how it’s grown, and who grows it. Hopefully, this increased farm activity in the fall generates enough excitement to continue to support local farms year round.
All thanks to the celebration of Halloween and a lovable squash!
But the fun with pumpkins does not have to end after Halloween. There are many things to do with your pumpkins instead of throwing them out. While carving pumpkins are not as tasty as other varieties, pureeing them and adding them to different soups, drinks, or baked goods creates a wonderful fall flavor. Don’t forget to save the seeds and bake them to snack on for the weeks following Halloween. If you’re feeling creative, there are other wonderful reuses of pumpkins such as turning it into a bird feeder or a planter – perfect for those end-of-the-season Mums! If you cannot find any other use for your pumpkin, you can reduce waste by composting it. Cut the pumpkin into small pieces and add it to your own compost pile or Green Bin.