Pumpkin picking proves a big hit for Leyland farm

The Leyland PumpKing! Anthony Slater, his mum Elaine and her brother David
The Leyland PumpKing! Anthony Slater, his mum Elaine and her brother David
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Four acres of pumpkins have vanished from a farm near Leyland.

But it’s not a case of Halloween Abracadabra.

Pumpkin picking has proven such a hit at the Geoff Cook Salads farm in Flensburg Way that in just four days the patch was completely cleared by visitors.

Anthony Slater, 26, who works on the farm alongside his mum Elaine, 53, and uncle David Cook, 56, said that they planted between 15 to 20 thousand pumpkin seeds in June.

“This has been our first year,” he said. “I’ve wanted to grow my own pumpkins ever since I was about three years old.

“We started with just a few in a field, then we slowly took some to the market and this is our first year opening the farm up to pumpkin pickers.

“We’ve been open every weekend since the beginning of October – we’ve sold out.

“We thought the pumpkins would last longer but we only had two weekends.”

Picking pumpkins in the autumn has long been a tradition in the United States.

Harvesting the fruit falls around the same time as Halloween and Thanksgiving. Pumpkins are used to make soups, desserts and breads and perhaps most popular dish is the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.

The tradition of carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns actually originated hundreds of years ago in Ireland. However at that time people would carve the spooky faces out of turnips or potatoes so it wasn’t until Irish immigrants arrived in America and discovered pumpkins that a new Halloween ritual was born.

Billed as fun for all the family, the farm was due to be open to visitors every weekend throughout October. Entry to the farm was free and pumpkins cost between £1 and £2.50.

However the activity went down so well with families that the Slaters had to announce that they had sold out of their pumpkin stash after just two weekends of trade.

In a Facebook post the family wrote: “We had absolutely no idea how popular it would be and are completely overwhelmed. We hope to make this an annual thing so keep an eye for progress of the pumpkin patch.”

Due to the success of the activity the Slaters have said that they are planning on bringing the fun back again next year with more pumpkins and more wheelbarrows to collect them in. This year they grew the classic Halloween variety of pumpkin but they are thinking of trying out growing more varieties next year.

Things to make with pumpkin...

Pumpkin pie

This sweet dessert pie is spiced with cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Serve it warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Pumpkin bread

It includes all the pumpkin spices - cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add walnuts if you so wish.

Pumpkin soup

Great for a light lunch or an easy starter to whip up for a dinner party. Just add vegetable stock, onions and double cream.

Roasted pumpkin salad

Chop up the pumpkin to roast it. Toss in baby spinach leaves and pine nuts.