EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 1, 2013

Mayhem in the Meadow: Smolak Farms plans Pumpkin Smashing Festival

NORTH ANDOVER — Washington Irving’s Headless Horseman would be pleased.

Cinderella, however, would be wise to stay away.

Just a few weeks after the Topsfield Fair entertained the multitudes with the 30th All New England Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off, Smolak Farms is offering its first-ever Pumpkin Smashing Festival on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Five dollars will give each participant the privilege of taking a baseball bat or sledge hammer and doing violence to a vegetable. Families will not be charged more than $25.

Sling shots will also be available, according to Adam Sapienza, education director of the farm and organizer of the festival.

So what’s the purpose of all this mayhem in the meadow? No, Sapienza said, they’re not planning to make a huge pumpkin pie or umpteen loaves of pumpkin bread.

There’s actually a very serious environmental motivation behind all of this crazy fun, he explained. During the weeks leading up to Halloween, pumpkins and the jack-o’-lanterns carved from them adorn many a front porch in New England.

After Halloween is over, however, Sapienza pointed out, the pumpkins are often tossed into the trash – unless young rowdies heave them into the streets.

“They end up in the landfill,” Sapienza said. Those who want to protect the environment aspire to reduce the volume of trash headed for a landfill, he noted.

The huge pile of smashed up pumpkins is not going to be loaded into a trash bin and delivered to the waste stream. All that mess will be hauled to the compost pile at Smolak Farms, Sapienza said.

During the next several months, nature will take its course and the pulverized pumpkins will decompose into very fertile material. The resulting compost will be used to fertilize next year’s crops of assorted vegetables, he said.

Sapienza said the Pumpkin Smashing Festival will give those who participate the chance to “round out their fall experience by having some fun.” People of all ages will enjoy the activity, he said.

Asked whose idea this was, Sapienza admitted he was the originator. He was pleased, he said, when Michael Smolak, owner of the farm, did not squash the idea when he presented it to him.

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