Community Cucurbits

Posted on November 1, 2015

How many times can a pumpkin make someone smile? The number is hard to measure, but thanks to the 20th edition of NH Audubon’s Enchanted Forest (Oct. 24-25), we have some idea.

One of the most enchanting aspects of this event is the jack-o-lanterns that line the trail through the woods. The glowing faces, figures and shapes guide groups from one engaging skit to the next as participants are led through the darkened forest, encounter magical creatures and learn about the natural world.

Yet, those jack-o-lanterns don’t appear in the forest by magic, they come to us through a wonderful community network. Apple Hill Farm in Concord invites the Canterbury Elementary School 5th graders to use some of their farmland to grow a crop of pumpkins each year. The students plant pumpkin seeds, and learn about the requirements and biology of the plants. In the fall the students harvest the pumpkins and sell them at farmer’s markets. The money they raise supports their annual environmental education trip to Nature’s Classroom.

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26 girls from the JV and Varsity volleyball teams at St. Paul’s School in Concord converted pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns for our Enchanted Forest event in October.

For the past three years, NH Audubon has contributed to the Canterbury students’ efforts by purchasing about 50 pumpkins using funds donated by our neighbor, St. Paul’s School. After the pumpkins arrive at the McLane Center students from St. Paul’s come and carve them. This year 26 girls from the JV and Varsity volleyball teams spent an afternoon using their hands for creative endeavors instead of athletic ones. Pumpkins of varying shapes and sizes were transformed into beautiful, funny and imaginative jack-o-lanterns.

Thanks to more intrepid volunteers, the jack-o-lanterns were distributed along the trail where for two nights they helped transform the forest into a very special place. After the Enchanted Forest is over, the job of the pumpkins continues. They are sent to the Owen Farm in Hopkinton where they are fed to pigs and cows.

The number of people (and animals) that benefit from these robust members of the cucurbit (gourd) family may be hard to count. But we are happy to be part of the pumpkin network and appreciate the efforts of all that are involved.

We also want to thank the donors who helped support the Enchanted Forest this year. Please patronize these businesses and thank them for their contribution to NH Audubon.

Apple Hill Farm: cider
Blue Seal Feeds: hay bales
Canterbury 5th graders: pumpkins
Constantly Pizza: volunteer dinner
Hackleboro Orchard: cider
Longchamps Electric Inc.: generators
Mill Brook Gallery: pumpkins
Red Blazer Restaurant: volunteer dinner
St. Paul’s School: supplies, volunteers
Our wonderful volunteers and bakers