Picking pumpkins


Picking plenty of pumpkins for no profit in a pretty big patch

Fields at Arboretum in Victoria may yield 20 tons of pumpkins, gourds, and squash

September 25, 2018 - 11:41 am

They abandoned their cozy office cubicals to stand ankle-deep in the muck and mire of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Victoria, bend over at the waist, slash away at myriad vines along the ground, and picked a peck of pumpkins.

More than a peck, actually. The goal of the 100 volunteers from Wells Fargo is to clear the 11 pumpkin patches, covering four acres, of up to 20 tons of cucurbits.

That's what these things are called. But you can call them pumpkins.

"We had a little bit of a difficult year, but we did plant more,"said Jenny Thull of the University of Minnesota, who manages the arboretum's vinyards and has gathered various pumpkin seeds from around the world for early planting.

At last count, there are 312 different varieties of pumpkins planted at the arboretum.

Wells Fargo has sent volunteers out for several years.  Some have come in past years, others are a little greener.

"I've been doing it for about 45 minutes, so I'm pretty experienced," said Andre Scaring.

 "I just stay bent over and try not to feel my back pain," he said. "I just keep clipping, it's pretty easy, actually."

What are they looking for?

"Some of them are ugly and weird-shaped, but I like these cute, perfectly round orange ones, or these white ones, or white ones," said Angie Timonen.

The pumpkins are sold at the arboretum's Apple House, with proceeds going for next year's planting.