“Pumpkin brains!” Jazzlyn exclaimed, scooping out a handful of stringy orange pulp. Across the picnic table, Anna directed her Dad in the disembowelment of her pumpkin, sorting the seeds into a metal bowl for roasting. “I’ve never roasted pumpkin seeds before,” she said. William, ever the innovator, eschewed spoons and saws in favor of creating what might be the world’s first pumpkin comic strip, while at the end of the table, her jack-o-lantern grinning toothily, Kenison practiced her pine cone throwing skills.
Some of the vegetables looked a little scared, but judging from the faces of the folks carving, drawing, and chatting at our first annual CSA Pumpkin Carving Potluck, the people were having fun. Earlier in the afternoon, Carolyn (aka “Mom”) showed up with tractor and wagon and conducted a hayride through the fields to the pumpkin patch. Along the way, the ravine was explored, feral kittens and woolly bear caterpillars were found, and wild turkeys were spotted running into the woods. Then everyone carefully picked out their pumpkins and Mom pointed the tractor back toward the yard, where a toasty bonfire awaited the pumpkin carvers and their fruits.
Later in the evening, carving complete and food shared, Diane and I watched with satisfaction as our families, friends, and customers chatted around the fire and on the porch. The kids chased each other through the darkened yard and lit their jack-o-lanterns with glow sticks as the adults talked food, farming, and other shared interests. “You sure you want to do this again next year?” I asked Diane as we felt around the woodpile for more logs to feed the fire. “You mean the potluck or the whole season?” she asked. “The whole season,” I replied. “Oh yeah,” she said. No hesitation. Well, okay then. Me too.
Despite the challenges of weather and pests, our business naïveté, and the difficulties of working around my school responsibilities, it’s been a good first year. No, we didn’t turn a profit, but we didn’t lose much money either and the experience we gained will guide us this winter as we plan our second season. We’ve already got a list of ideas for next year: experiments with cover crops, ducks, a bean arbor, expanding the CSA, offering educational internships, the list goes on. There are new varieties of vegetables we’re eager to try and crops (sweet corn! onions! potatoes!) we hope to add to our CSA offerings.
We settled onto a blanket near the fire. “Do you want to pick up horse manure next Saturday?” I asked Diane. “Sounds good,” she replied, leaning forward to nudge a log into the flames. We talked about how we might best compost the manure and use it to feed next season’s seedlings. Then when CSA member Chris pointed out Polaris, we turned our gaze from the soil toward the star-freckled sky.
A few photos from the day: