A Giant Endeavor: Our Journey of Growing Pumpkins and Lessons in Building Community at Cascadia Heritage Farm

At Cascadia Heritage Farm, our story this year is one of ambition, learning, and connection, brought to life through our attempt to grow a giant pumpkin. This journey, shared with our son Viggo, is a testament to our commitment to appreciate the miracle of life.

Our adventure began with an ambitious goal: to grow a giant pumpkin in our garden. Viggo and I, fueled by curiosity and a shared passion for gardening, embarked on this challenge with enthusiasm. Our approach at Cascadia Heritage Farm melded traditional gardening with permaculture principles, though we were novices in managing weeds and ensuring successful growth. Every step was a lesson, every day a new chapter in our book of farming.

The inspiration for our unique approach to nurturing the giant pumpkin came from an unexpected place – the writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her stories from the “Little House on the Prairie” series, particularly the techniques used in her time, inspired us to try milk feeding our pumpkin. We were fortunate to acquire award-winning pumpkin seeds at the Puyallup fair, where we showcased our beautiful Dales ponies. Fueled by the rich compost from our farm, we planted these seeds with hope and excitement.

As a farm dedicated to critically endangered farm animals and rare cultivars, every day at Cascadia Heritage Farm is a learning experience. Our son, Viggo, and I are not just farming; we are growing together. Gardening has become our shared language, a way to communicate our love for life and each other. This year, our garden took an adventurous turn as we embarked on the challenge of growing a giant pumpkin.

However, we quickly learned that these giant pumpkin seeds grew at a markedly slower pace compared to our other varieties. Through this, Viggo and I understood a crucial lesson: as animals and plants are bred for specific traits, other qualities, like vigor, can diminish. We explored the intricacies of pumpkin growth, learning to distinguish between male and female flowers and even attempting to hybridize our giant pumpkins with other varieties.

One of our most unique experiments was milk feeding a pumpkin. Though our giant pumpkin didn’t grow as large as we hoped, the process was enriching and fun. Instead, our unexpected triumph was a giant yellow squash, which we joyfully carved for Halloween, inspired by a movie Viggo and I watched called “Monster Trucks.”

Beyond the farm, our pumpkin growing has become a cherished tradition in our community at Cascadia Heritage Farm. Each Halloween, we engage in a beautiful cycle of seasonal joy. We grow pumpkins and give them away to our amazing neighbors, then enjoy the spirit of Halloween by trick-or-treating at their homes. Witnessing the pumpkins, now artistically carved by our neighbors, illuminating the night is incredibly heartwarming.

At Cascadia Heritage Farm, our story this year extends beyond the soil of our pumpkin patch and the pages of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books. It’s a rich tapestry of growth, learning, and heartfelt appreciation, woven into every aspect of our farm life. Here, we’re not only dedicated to nurturing critically endangered farm animals and rare cultivars but also to cultivating the life of a young, intelligent, and sensitive human being – our son Viggo. Each day, as we tend to our farm, I am filled with immense pride in witnessing his development into a grounded, compassionate individual. I cherish every moment on this farm, where our collective efforts, no matter how small, contribute to a broader vision of sustainability, family bonding, and the nurturing of life in all its forms.