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This year we have been incredibly lucky to have Helen Cross join the team here at Kilduff.  She has so many skill sets and wears many different hats when it comes to working with us – communication, marketing, recipe developer, cheerleader and, above all, friend. Much of lockdown for her was spent with her gorgeous boys in their garden and we are delighted to share her thoughts on the magic of getting kids outside and creating home made memories…

I recognise now that I really was very lucky to have grown up on a farm and understand where my food came from, from a very early age. However it still really surprises me there are some children who are not familiar as to how some fruit and vegetables end up on their plates. And the pumpkin, which is a fruit from the same family as the cucumber and melon (everyday is school day), is the perfect example.

There are children and adults who don’t realise that real pumpkin patches exist. There are, in fact, pumpkins growing in acres of fields up and down the country. They don’t just magically appear on the supermarket shelves in the run up to Halloween. More concerning is that many people don’t realise that pumpkins can be eaten. Terrifyingly, last year it was estimated that 18,000 tons of pumpkin would end up in landfill, the equivalent of 360 million slices of  pumpkin pie. That is a lot of pie and a very scary thought.

As well as the flesh, you can also eat the seeds and the skin of some varieties and if stored correctly they can last well into the New Year. There is something quite comforting about harvesting something now which is so wholesome, tasty and versatile and it  will carry you through the cold winter months ahead.

Working with Russell and  Lucy at Kilduff, we are on a mission to help educate and inspire more young people to grow, cook and eat pumpkins or in fact any type of fruit or vegetable. Nothing beats pulling a wonky carrot out of the ground or digging for potatoes, which for children is like digging for nuggets of gold. Fascinating and awe inspiring, not only does it help to reconnect with nature and the countryside but planting seeds also instils a sense of hope. Something many of us discovered during lockdown. The resurgence of gardening and growing food was one of the silver linings during a very dark period and something we really want to harness and build on going forward, especially amongst children.  Growing fruit and vegetables not only makes them aware of the seasons, something which as got lost over time, but also encourages them to be nurturing and provides them with an opportunity to take  responsibility for something, which is alive.

And nothing quite beats growing your own pumpkin  as we discovered at the start of lockdown when we began our pumpkin journey. From tiny seeds we grew three monstrous plants. Although it turns out growing pumpkins can be an emotional rollercoaster as you get quite attached to the these new members of your family. And you may even name them! It turns out they like lots of feed, sun, not too much rain and they really don’t like the wind or slugs. Although we did loose quite a few fruit along the way, we  ended up with three Crown Prince pumpkin fruits and in terms of illustrating something you can grow from your own patch and take it right to your plate, this type of pumpkin is the perfect example. You can eat the skin and flesh, whether in soup or simply roasted and you can eat the seeds. The joy of growing something so large,  beautiful and tasty from a tiny seed really is worth it. It still blows my mind.

Helen x