Ryan Gruszie brought his family to Strathcona Gardens Saturday to smash their jack-o-lanterns, as did many others. The smashed gourds will become compost rather than ending up in the landfill. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Smashing Pumpkins for the Campbell River Food Bank

Annual Pumpkin Smash event turns carved pumpkins into compost

The 11th annual Pumpkin Smash event took place this weekend, and organizers from Comox Strathcona Waste Management (CSWM) say was another huge succcess.

According to Elaine Campbell-Jansen with the CSWM, 5,970 kg of pumpkin was smashed at Strathcona Gardens this year.

“It was a record year, and it was just such an awesome weekend,” Campbell-Jansen says. “We thought that the weather would deter some people from coming with their pumpkins, but that didn’t turn out to be the case at all.”

The pumpkins, once smashed, were transported to Cumberland to be turned into compost.

The event is free every year, but organizers ask that people coming to smash their gourds bring a non-perishable food item to donate to the local food bank.

“We were able to donate approximately 200 lbs of food split between the local foodbank and the Grassroots Kind Hearts group, and some people took whole pumpkins that we didn’t want to compost because they were still edible,” Campbell-Jensen says.

The pumpkin smash is an important community service, according to the CSWM, because pumpkins that end up in the landfill don’t break down the way they would in a compost pile because they end up decomposing without oxygen and end up producing methane and leachate, which aren’t good for the natural enviroment.

If you didn’t make it to the event this weekend, CSWM says there are other ways to keep your pumpkins out of the landfill, such as by chopping them up into thumb-sized pieces and putting them into a backyard composter or by getting a vermicomposting bin for under your sink to create nutrient-rich compost for use in your own gardens.

And Campbell-Jansen says they are looking at other ways to help people, as well.

“We’re thinking that maybe next year we’ll put on a course or a workshop on how to cook with pumpkin so that more of them can be used as edibles instead of being composted,” Campbell-Jansen says, “but we’ll have to see.”