The summer holidays have started, and for six weeks schoolchildren and their carers have to find something to occupy their time and their minds. One local farmer near Sittingbourne has an excellent solution: he’s sown a number of fields on three sites with corn and pumpkins. The sites are at Maidstone, Lower Rainham and Faversham.
In addition to corn and pumpkins, the Lower Rainham and Maidstone sites have been sown with a variety of sunflowers. Farmer Charlie tells us that they have sown 25 000 seeds of twenty different varieties, including red, white and bi-coloured. You can pick your own sunflowers from 12 August.
When the corn is at its tallest, but still green, Charlie cuts a maze in the corn. (At least, so I believed. I have just learnt that when the maize is sown, the seed drill follows instructions not to sow where the maze paths are! The wonders of GPS!!) Now schoolchildren in the summer holidays can lose themselves for an hour or so, or maybe even longer. Last year there were constant queues of cars at the Lower Rainham site, lasting right through the holidays. And there are other activities for them to take part in.
Then as Hallowe’en approaches, Charlie invites the public in to purchase pumpkins for carving Jack o’ Lanterns and displaying them to ward off the evil spirits. He trades as Pumpkin Moon, and he’s told Kent Bylines that Pumpkin Moon will open this year on 9 October.
Not just for Hallowe’en
However, not all of the pumpkins are grown for scaring the ghosts away. Among the giant, orange pumpkins for carving you can find an enormous variety of other squashes and pumpkins which are for eating. Some are sweet, with firm flesh, which, when baked in the oven, provide a nourishing accompaniment to any meal.
One, which you can find in the supermarket, is harlequin, small and round, with green or orange and white stripes. My other half is very fond of the sweet Delicata, but I prefer the juicy, fun Spaghetti. The most common one, which we probably don’t think of as a pumpkin, is butternut squash.
Updated 6 August 2021
Our friend TC Callis has graciously provided a nourishing and economical recipe for us, made with pumpkins and corn!
TC’s squash recipe
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 butternut or spaghetti squash, seeded, peel removed & roughly chopped
1 large tin of sweetcorn, drained.
25 g of butter*
Melt the butter and sweat the onion and squash (ie turn the veg over in the butter, put the lid on and turn the light down very low) for 20 minutes to half an hour, until the squash starts looking translucent.
Add in the tin of sweetcorn, stock cube and water and simmer for another 20 minutes.
Roughly mash the whole lot with a potato masher.
You can grate some cheese across the top once it’s served, which will add some protein into it.
*A note on butter
Butter is fantastically good for you. It contains a whole load of different substances that actively help to support the microbiome (the colonies of beneficial microorganisms in your gut). It contains none of the highly processed ingredients found in manufactured “spreadable fats” and margarines.
You can apply the principle “margarine is poison, butter is good” to most food types.