Letters

Letters 04-14-14

Benishek Inching

Regarding “Benishek No Environmentalist” I agree with Mr. Powell’s letter to the editor/ opinion of Congressman Dan Benishek’s poor environmental record and his penchant for putting corporate interests ahead of his constituents’...

Climate Change Warning

Currently there are three assaults on climate change. The first is on the integrity of the scientists who support human activity in climate change. Second is that humans are not capable of affecting the climate...

Fed Up About Roads

It has gotten to the point where I cringe when I have to drive around this area. There are areas in Traverse City that look like a war zone. When you have to spend more time viewing potholes instead on concentrating on the road, accidents are bound to happen...

Don’t Blame the IRS

I have not heard much about the reason for the IRS getting itself entangled with the scrutiny of certain conservative 501(c) groups (not for profit) seeking tax exemption. Groups seeking tax relief must be organizations that are operated “primarily for the purpose of bringing about civic betterment and social improvements.”


Home · Articles · News · Features · Picking pumpkins
. . . .

Picking pumpkins

Kristi Kates - October 25th, 2010
Picking the Perfect Pumpkin
By Kristi Kates
Are you getting ready to pick out this year’s Halloween pumpkin?
Perhaps you can make that experience a little more interesting than
your basic stop at the grocery store.
First things first: pumpkins aren’t a vegetable - they’re actually a
fruit. As a matter of fact, their name originates from the word pepon,
which translates from the Greek word “large melon.” The word pepon
then moved through cultural shifts in language, into the French
pompon, the British pumpion, and the word we know today, the American
pumpkin. And they’ve been around since around 5500 BC - although they
weren’t carved into Jack O’Lanterns until the early to mid 1800s.
The typical size ranges from a pumpkin so tiny that you could tuck it
into your jacket pocket, to pumpkins that tip the scale in the
hundreds of pounds. Most of the pumpkin itself is edible, and is often
a staple of North American autumn menus.
They’ve made plenty of appearances in popular culture, too - some of
the most familiar being Cinderella’s carriage, the Pumpkin Juice
beverage from the Harry Potter movies, the pumpkin atop the torso of
the headless horseman in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and of course
the cartoon Peanuts’ yearly visit from The Great Pumpkin.
But here in Northern Michigan, it’s mostly about the pumpkin as that
perfect Halloween accessory. Grown at farms across the region, picking
the perfect pumpkin is a yearly custom that most of us look forward
to; never mind that Jack O’Lanterns actually started with people
carving designs into hollowed-out... turnips.

PUMPKINS TO GO
Steve Fouch, one of the owners of Jacob’s Corn Maze in Traverse City,
keeps things almost as simple as those good old days with Jacob’s
pumpkins.
“We grow a variety of pumpkin called Hannibal,” he says. “These are
pumpkins that grow in the 20-25 pound range, pretty consistently. They
are appealing pumpkins, because they’re just the right size of pumpkin
that people enjoy for decorating and carving.”
While a quick Internet search reveals at least 30 different varieties
of pumpkins, Jacob’s only grows the singular Hannibal variety for
their Halloween customers (“that’s the only one we grow - it’s a very
solid pumpkin,” Fouch says) - and they’ve done all the picking for
you, too, further simplifying the 2010 pumpkin-buying process.
“All of our pumpkins are out of the field already. They’ve been
pre-picked,” Fouch explains, “we picked them now to avoid frost, and
they’re waiting on our farm carts here for people to choose and
purchase them over the next couple of weekends.”
Around a thousand of them, to be more precise - that’s the amount of
pumpkins that Jacob’s estimates they sell every Halloween.

BOOS AND BIGGIES
By contrast, Pond Hill Farm in Harbor Springs offers a more artistic
approach to your Halloween pumpkin-choosing. Jimmy Spencer, who
co-owns Pond Hill Farm along with his family and who oversees the
pumpkin-growing each year, explains that he thinks people sometimes
get a little “hung up” on the traditional orange pumpkin, which can
keep them from seeing the “bigger picture” of pumpkin options.
“We grow around a dozen different kinds of pumpkins,” Spencer says,
“starting with the miniature pumpkins - the Baby Boo and Baby Bear
varieties. We grow pie pumpkins, Giant Pumpkins, and, of course, the
usual Jack O’Lantern pumpkins - this year, as far as varieties, we’ve
got Gold Medal, Gold Rush, Wolf, and the Howden Biggie.”
While Spencer certainly doesn’t discourage people from purchasing the
orange pumpkins that are thought of as the gold - uh, sorry, orange -
standard for Halloween decor, he suggests that they perhaps try one of
Pond Hill’s more unusual pumpkin varieties, which can both add color
to your Halloween display - and food to your table.

COLOR YOUR HALLOWEEN
“There are a lot of really neat pumpkins,” Spencer says. “Our
specialty pumpkins include White, Blue, Green, and something called a
‘Cinderella’ pumpkin, which is more flat than a typical pumpkin and
ranges from a very bright orange to pink. The ‘Cinderella’ - its
botanical name is Rogue de’Vampes- is probably my favorite pumpkin, I
believe it’s a French Pumpkin and is quite beautiful with its
flattened shape.”
Spencer also explains that all of the specialty pumpkins are extremely
good for eating as well as holiday carving.
“You can make them into good soups or pies, and you can also roast
them, like a winter squash,” he says.
His favorite Pond Hill pumpkin activity, however, doesn’t include
ovens or carving knives; but does involve a whole lot of gardening
expertise and care.
“I like to grow Giant Pumpkins,” he chuckles, “our biggest this year
was 500 pounds. Last year’s was 300 pounds. So we’re learning as we go
- and hoping for a 1,000 pound pumpkin next year.”
  Now that would make one of the biggest Halloween Jack O’Lanterns of all.

Jacob’s Corn Maze is located at 7100 E. Traverse Hwy/M-72 West in
Traverse City, telephone 231-632-MAZE, and is offering the T-Rex Corn
Maze this year along with their pumpkins. Pond Hill Farm is located at
5581 S. Lake Shore Drive in Harbor Springs, telephone 231-526-FARM,
and offers U-Pick Pumpkins daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. along with
Hayrides and their Garden Cafe.

 
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