Local chefs, community cafes, farms, shops and cooks are joining The Oxfordshire Pumpkin Festival in their droves to celebrate food and persuade us to think about the food we throw away.

Run by Good Food Oxford from Friday, there is so much going on from cookalongs to farm tours, carving sessions to pumpkin sales, recipes to cooking demos, with some really exciting names and events for you to enjoy, join and book.

Try the pumpkin menu at Flo’s – The Place in The Park in East Oxford cooked by Italian chef Davide; expect pumpkin risotto, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie and pumpkin curry!

Join Climatarian Kitchen’s Carve & Cook Pumpkin Party or or eat pumpkin dishes at Waste2Taste and pick up free recipe cards with pumpkin ideas. 

Learn to cook other tasty pumpkin and squash recipes with help from Riverford Oxfordshire, Cherwell Larder, Replenish Oxfordshire, Witney Community Fridge and more. 

Take a farm tour at Tolhurst Organic in South Oxfordshire, and buy your pumpkins locally from farmer’s markets, Oxfordshire farms or organic shops, which are holding special sales and carving sessions.

Organisations involved also include St Anne’s College kitchens, Sandy Lane Farm, Oxford City Farm, East Oxford Farmers’ and Community Market, The Market Garden, Eynsham, Organic Deli, 2 North Parade Produce Store and Wild Honey in Oxford, Headington Market, the Cultivate stall at Summertown Farmers’ Market, South Oxford Farmers’ and Community Market and Wolvercote Community Market.

The Oxfordshire Pumpkin Festival is an annual event returning for its seventh year on Friday, run by the Good Food Oxford network to encourage people to buy edible pumpkins, “squash food waste” and eat – rather than discard – the flesh of their Halloween pumpkins.

A total of 23 million pumpkins will be bought for carving this year, and over half will not get eaten. Over 50% of people polled did not realise that supermarket pumpkins are edible and every year over 25% of all Halloween pumpkins end up in landfill – that’s 18,000 tonnes of food waste.

The Oxfordshire Pumpkin Festival aims to change that and show everyone that pumpkins and squashes are tasty and nutritious. 

While the opportunities for festival events are limited this year due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the county’s Good Food Network has come up with resourceful ways of celebrating pumpkins while observing the guidelines.

Nina Osswald, Coordinator at Good Food Oxford, said: “It wasn’t easy to put together as varied a programme as we normally have. But our network members have been very creative with thinking of other ways to make sure people get to eat and learn about pumpkins and squashes.”

Throughout the festival, recipe ideas are promoted through a recipe collection on the Good Food Oxford website, free online cooking demos and on social media. 

Rachel Burns, Waste Strategy Manager at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “If you do decide to dispose of your pumpkins, remember to compost them at home or put them in your food recycling bin. This will help the environment, as pumpkins and other food waste can be recycled and used to produce electricity and fertiliser for local farm land.”

Good Food Oxford and Replenish Oxfordshire also have big plans to start next year’s Pumpkin Festival early by distributing seeds in the spring to encourage local people to grow their own pumpkins and squashes at home.  

The Oxfordshire Pumpkin Festival runs from October 23–November 1. Full festival programme with all event details are at https://goodfoodoxford.org/oxfordshire-pumpkin-festival 

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