It might be spooky season, but you don't have to fear any pumpkin shortage.
Farmers across Collingwood are working hard to make sure there are enough pumpkins (and pumpkin pie) to go around.
“Pumpkins are a symbol of fall,” said Chris Currie, the owner of Currie’s Farm Market on Sixth Street in Collingwood. “They are a part of the fall harvest, and for someone who grew up on a farm, it’s basically a symbol of the last crop of the season.”
Currie grew up on the property that has been farmed by his ancestors for over 150 years, but it wasn’t until later in life that he realized the farm roots ran deep in him too. In 2011, Currie partnered with his wife, Candice, and together they decided to get their hands dirty and take over the family farm, picking up where Currie’s parents and grandparents left off.
Which of course, included farming pumpkins.
“We’ve been growing pumpkins since I was a kid … so, a long time,” Currie laughed.
While pumpkin farming is not necessarily difficult, Currie does say it is “a labour of love.”
“It’s a lot more labour than you’d expect actually,” he said. “It’s very time-consuming.”
Currie and his team plant every single pumpkin by hand, aiming to do so before June 1.
“We need to get them in early because they have a long growing season,” he said. “So that’s kind of our cut off.”
While pumpkins are fairly low maintenance, Currie said you have to be diligent in the beginning, hand-pulling and hand-weeding to keep the crop under control until the vines start to grow. After a pumpkin is fully grown, it gets snipped off the vine and put in a line to be picked up by the wagon. Each and every pumpkin is then washed by hand before it is brought to the store to sell.
Along with a long growing season, Currie said pumpkins also have a long selling season, and the goal is to have the crop matured by Sept. 1.
“Pumpkins aren’t just for Halloween,” Currie said. “They are used for Thanksgiving as decoration and other fall activities.”
Currie’s farm grows anywhere between 2,000 and 5,000 pumpkins a year, including pie pumpkins, which are smaller and sweeter than the pumpkins you’d typically carve at Halloween.
And, despite handling thousands of pumpkins every year, one of Currie’s favourite treats is still pumpkin pie. Every year, Chef Patrick, owner of Chef Patrick’s Gourmet Foods in Collingwood, picks up some of Currie’s pie pumpkins and makes a pie for Currie and his family.
“I really do love pumpkin pie,” Currie grinned.
Come November 1, pumpkins carry no value, so Currie gives any leftover crop to other local farmers to use as feed for their pigs.
And while the fall harvest is one of his favourites, the thing Currie likes most about his job is the ability he has to connect directly with his customers.
“I like seeing people… and making them happy because they know where their food is coming from,” he said. “Our motto at the store is ‘the journey from our farm to your fork is a short one.’ It’s fitting, and it’s the reason why we do what we do.”