Update April 2021: Most seeds have been allocated, but we still have a few left, so please sign up here. Groups are also welcome to participate in the social media buzz if they have their own pumpkin & squash seeds. A limited number of seedlings will also be available in May for gardens that would like to grow a few plants. Get in touch to find out more or sign up.
The annual Oxfordshire Pumpkin Festival is a celebration of locally grown, edible pumpkins and squashes, calling on everyone in Oxfordshire to eat their pumpkins rather than carve and bin them. The idea is to avoid the scariest thing about Halloween: the 18,000 tonnes of edible pumpkins that go to waste every year.
This year we're going to start even earlier: With growing pumpkins and squashes in the spring, so you can watch the miracle of a tiny seed growing into a plant yielding tasty vegetables – and look forward to an abundant harvest of edible squashes and pumpkins in autumn.
We're calling on all community gardens, allotment groups, market gardens, farms, markets, colleges, workplaces and other interested groups to join us. Find a spot to grow some squashes, or receive free seed packets to hand out to your members, volunteers, customers, visitors or employees. Grow seedlings and hand them out in May, or organise a seedling swap in your neighbourhood.
To register your interest, please complete our short signup form to register your interest and let us know how many seed packets your group would like to distribute. We'll supply you with the seeds, a social media briefing to support the campaign and other online resources. If you're an expert organic grower, we'd love to hear from you and share your tips and tricks on how to grow squashes successfully at home through the campaign. And if you need a link to a local supplier of potting soil and other planting materials, we'll help connect you.
Banbury CAG, one of the community groups that already signed up, have been running seed swaps at Bridge Street Garden and other local community gardens for some time. Lynda, one of the members of the group, says: "It's so encouraging to find that people are now used to the idea and bringing along their own seeds to swap. We like to encourage growing of edibles, especially squash and pumpkin, as well as offering recipe cards with suggestions for different ways of cooking them to help reduce food waste."
If you're going to organise a planting event or seedling swap, why not make it part of the national Good To Grow Day from 23rd to 26th April? Good to Grow Day (formerly known as the Big Dig) is a weekend of action for edible gardens to celebrate and prepare for the new growing season, promote their activities and encourage people to volunteer. Sign up now to start growing squashes; and if you need guidance on how to prepare for COVID-safe outdoor volunteering and events in the spring, check out our resources section.
The eighth Oxfordshire Pumpkin Festival in October 2021 will be a celebration of edible pumpkins and squashes. Take a look at last year's Pumpkin Festival programme, and get in touch with your ideas for an event this autumn, or with your contribution to our recipe collection.
This initiative is part of Oxfordshire Pumpkin Festival, supported by Veg Cities, a feature campaign of Sustainable Food Places, Replenish Oxfordshire, Community Action Groups Oxfordshire and Oxfordshire County Council's Waste and Recycling Team.