Don’t feel scared about picking pumpkins this Halloween as you can avoid adding to food waste

Picked and carved pumpkin lanterns can be repurposed into meals, bird food or nutrients for the soil, according to pumpkin patch owner

Pumpkins on the ground at pumpkin picking patch.
Take your pick of the pumpkins. Credit: Megan Gaen

Pumpkin picking is a popular activity, but after the lanterns go out, it is important to use them in other ways to avoid food waste. That is the message from a pick-your-own pumpkin farm this autumn.

Picking Patch runs a pumpkin patch near Cardiff, where locals enjoy a seasonal day out, choose pumpkins for Halloween or take some Instagrammable photos.

With many people buying barrows full of pumpkins, it is vital to promote sustainability to stop alarming levels of food waste.

Niall Smith, managing director of Picking Patch, said they encouraged eating pumpkins or using them as food for wild birds, and at the patch, the pumpkins decompose over winter and ploughed back into the ground after winter, giving nutrients to the soil.

Food waste has a detrimental impact on the environment. In Wales every year 4.4 million tonnes of avoidable household food waste are thrown away, producing 19 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. With Halloween being a seasonal event and social media trends coming and going, pumpkin wastage contributes to this issue.

After a recent visit to the patch, Cardiff food blogger Lauren Musinguzi said it felt more organic than choosing a pumpkin in a supermarket. However, she said food waste is a big problem, but she doesn’t want to see this tradition die out. “I think a middle ground does need to be found”, said Lauren, “and there needs to be more recipes and ideas readily available to help people know what to do with pumpkin as a food.”

Local chef Shane Davies-Nilsson has many pumpkin recipes, like soup, curry, and cake. Minimising food waste is extremely important to him and he said, “I find it disgusting that so much is wasted and thrown away, especially when there’s people who are struggling.” 

Picking Patch is open until 31 October from 9.30am to 4pm.

Recipe for Pumpkin cake, made with the pumpkins from pumpkin picking
Shane Davies-Nilsson’s recipe for spiced pumpkin cake