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We collected 10,000 pounds of pumpkins for composting!

pumpkins & bins at Truxtun Park

We gave your Halloween jack-o-lanterns and pumpkins a dignified demise, back to the Earth.
We’re turning them into Pumpkin Spice Compost that you can order now for delivery in a couple of months!

NBC4 Washington featured our pumpkin collection
during Meteorologist Amelia Draper’s climate segment on food waste.

sad jack-o-lantern

Five tons of pumpkins are now “cooking” on the Veteran Compost farm in northern Maryland, being turned into a compost “secret sauce” for local gardens. The haul is the result of local nonprofit Annapolis Green’s Great Pumpkin Dropoff, a partnership with the City of Annapolis to collect pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns in November to gauge community interest in composting.

Residents brought 6000 pounds of pumpkins to Truxtun Park after Halloween and another 4000 pounds after Thanksgiving. Annapolis Green pulled out and donated small pie pumpkins to the Anne Arundel Food Bank.

Annapolis Green is taking orders now for the “Pumpkin Spice Compost” as a unique holiday gift and fundraiser.

“This response tells us two things,” said Elvia Thompson, President & Co-founder of Annapolis Green. “First, considering that these numbers reflect only Halloween and Thanksgiving, just imagine how many tons of food waste is dumped into the landfill every week. And second, this makes clear that our community wants to compost its food waste.”

On the farm, the pumpkins are mixed with wood chips and other food waste in big piles that are turned regularly. Heat from the decomposition process breaks down the nutrients and the seeds. In about two months, the result is a fluffy, sweet-smelling soil amendment that is great for any garden. It is Nature’s fertilizer.

pumpkin spice compostAnnapolis Green’s garden at Maryland Avenue and State Circle has served as a demonstration of how productive a garden can be with addition of compost. For the past four years Annapolis Green has sold the “Christmas Crab Compost” – the result of waste from the Annapolis Rotary Crab Feast as a fun holiday gift. No crab feast food waste was available this year so Annapolis Green is offering “Pumpkin Spice Compost” instead. Since the compost won’t be ready for about two months, the holiday gift, available on the Annapolis Green website, takes the form of a festive certificate, a stocking stuffer, redeemable when the compost is ready.

The response was incredible! We had funny and gnarly jack-0-lanterns, rotten pumpkins, and whole pumpkins of all sizes. Wow, 10,000 pounds… five tons of fruit (yes it is a fruit, not a vegetable)!

wagon full of collected pumpkins
Mike and Kim Lungociu of Black Walnut Cove collected pumpkins from their neighbors and brought them all to the Great Pumpkin Dropoff.

We collected them in ten 64-gallon totes, 11 32-gallon totes and many more that did not fit in the containers (sadly, we had to put those in plastic bags to keep the wildlife from getting into them and making a mess in the park) after Halloween and in 20 64-gallon totes after Thanksgiving. They came from all over the area. Some people even collected them for their entire neighborhood and brought them to us.

The City is charged $53.53/ton for waste removal to the landfill. So, while the seven days of composting only saved the City $267.65 in terms of dollars, the project demonstrated that if the City had year-round composting of all types of compostable materials the savings would be significant AND the environmental benefits would too.

We brought this project to the City of Annapolis and thank Mayor Gavin Buckley, City Manager David Jarrell, Deputy City Manager for Resilience and Sustainability Jacqueline Guild, and Director of the Department of Recreation and Parks Archie J. Trader III for their support of this initiative.


little boy & mom with pumpkins  little girl & pumpkin  jack-o-lanterns in bin

Next spring those nutritious pumpkins will have been turned into fantastic compost for your spring garden… Pumpkin Spice Compost!

pumpkin spice everything flyerYou can pre-order Pumpkin Spice Compost  just in time for holiday gifting for the gardener in your life, and a “Pumpkin Spice Everything” bundle. Read more.

The Great Pumpkin Dropoff is part of nonprofit Annapolis Green’s Here We Grow program to encourage home gardeners to grow food with flowers with the natural soil amendment of compost rather than synthetic fertilizers and without pesticides.

The pumpkins will be turned into compost by Veteran Compost, Maryland’s only licensed compost farm and a Founding One Hundred supporter of Annapolis Green. Residents will be able to pre-order the compost as a holiday gift from Annapolis Green along with related gardening products.

Anne Arundel County is also composting pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns. Check out its Recycling and Waste Reduction Division Facebook page for details and other good recycling info.

Anne Arundel Food Bank Volunteer Coordinator Angel Woodall accepts pie pumpkins for the Anne Arundel Food Bank
Anne Arundel Food Bank Volunteer Coordinator Angel Woodall accepts pie pumpkins

anne arundel food bankA Final Note About Food & Food Composting

In case you are thinking about whether we are wasting food, we had that on our minds too. However, it turns out that the Howden pumpkin, and other varieties grown primarily for decorative purposes, just aren’t that good for eating. Have a look at this story from NPR and this story from HuffPost. Composting, rather than trashing, them is the best way to dispose of the majority of the pumpkins we received. They will go back to the Earth and help make new pumpkins that may be planted next year.

However, the Anne Arundel Food Bank accepted the small “pie pumpkins” from our collection! 




Check out our Great Pumpkin Dropoff poem by Lynne Forsman,
who had the original idea for this initiative.

Call me pumpkin or jack-o-lantern,
And whichever the case,
After I’ve been carved and illuminated,
It’s a proper end I hope to face.

At this time of year,
I make harvest hearts sing.
Pumpkin -orange everywhere,
And Pumpkin spice EVERYTHING!

Yet after my Halloween fun,
Give me a dignified demise
If you don’t bake me and eat me,
Respectfully dispose of me, whatever the size.

Thanks to my friends at Annapolis Green,
I’m hoping for the most…
To comeback and nourish your garden,
As Pumpkin Spice Compost!


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