Residents of Whonnock established what appears to be a popular new tradition this fall – giant pumpkin growing.
Pascale Shaw, a school board trustee and Whonnock resident, recently issued a press release announcing the winner of the first annual giant pumpkin growing contest, and the fun the community had doing it.
She explained the uniqueness of the rural community in eastern Maple Ridge. With a handful of larger farms and a growing number of small scale farms, including some with roadside stands, Whonnock seems a little like taking a step back in time. While people in other communities meet over coffee, it is not uncommon for neighbours in Whonnock to get together to try and capture runaway livestock. It was during a llama chase when the idea for a Whonnock giant pumpkin growing contest came about.
“I saved the seeds from a giant pumpkin I had grown last year” explained Shaw, who has a small specialty poultry farm.
She grew some pumpkin plants and gave them away.
“I have met so many great people in our community, while chasing after various farm animals, I thought a community building contest would be fun.”
Once the word got out, it ballooned. In early May, about 75 people came and picked up a free plant from Shaw’s farm.
“Twenty-five people came back for a second plant because their first try at it failed,” laughed Shaw.
They ran out of plants, but another Whonnock resident saved the day by donating more seeds.
“So I planted some more seeds and gave away more plants” said Shaw. “I did not want anyone who wanted to participate in this to miss out.”
Updates of how pumpkins were growing started appearing on social media. In Whonnock style, there were reports of pumpkin casualties – sheep ate entire pumpkins, goats nibbled funny patterns in them, and chickens pecked holes all over prized pumpkins.
A local woodwork and artist offered to create signs for both the winner and the one who would come in dead last.
The winner, at 109 pounds, of the first annual Whonnock Giant Pumpkin Contest were Joanne and Trevor Halliday. The dead-last award went to a tiny 12-pound pumpkin.
Shaw said the event will be back again next year.
“It is safe to say that there will be many pumpkin pies eaten made in the community of Whonnock over the next few weeks,” she said Shaw. “Maybe just maybe some of those sheep, goats, chickens and llamas will also get to eat a few pumpkins.”