Last week we took a trip to Hayling Island to see the bumper crop of pumpkins grown on Stoke Fruit Farm. Sam and his mum Roz run the 300 acre farm and the farm shop. They started growing pumpkins as a bit of fun a while back when their main crop was wheat, peas, potatoes and sweetcorn. Now their main crop is potatoes and pumpkins. The farm has been in the family for 100 plus years. Sam’s grandfather ran it as a vegetable and dairy farm. Sam’s father then took over the farm growing mainly fruit, but twenty years he stopped growing fruit and just grew vegetables.
All the pumpkins are planted on the same day, this year it was 5th May, and they grow all types of pumpkins from the Giant Atlantic Pumpkins to the tiny Gourds.
Some many different varieties of edible pumpkin on the farm; Turks Turban, Cinderella Pumpkin, Butternut, Celebration, Spaghetti and Crown Prince. The Crown Prince is light blue in colour and originates from South Africa. The Spaghetti squash can be used instead of pasta for people who need a Gluten Free diet, all very tasty varieties.
They were gathering more pumpkins from the field on the day we visited so we went to see the pumpkins fields.
This is such a versatile vegetable; soups, pies and cakes but you can also eat the flower if you catch it in time. These are usually stuffed with cheese and battered. A tasty treat for those keen gardeners.
They grow around 1000 tonne of potatoes a year and store them in a giant warehouses at 7ºC which is perfect for keeping them until they need them. An average 60 tonne of potatoes is sold from their shop each year, that’s a lot of spud! A variety of potato from this farm include Marfona, which is similar to Desiree, perfect for mash on a cold winter evening.
The potatoes are sorted at the farm in one giant machine.
Nothing is wasted. Any potatoes that don’t make the grade go to cattle feed.
This farm has so much to offer, we turn a corner past the pumpkin fields and there are the chickens – free range chickens all producing free range eggs for the farm shop. These girls love a good hang out spot.
Pumpkins have very little Saturated, Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated fat but they do have Vitamin A, Calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin B-12 per 100 grams – Vitamin B12 is important for the way the body works, and people who don’t have enough of it may feel tired or have a lack of energy. It helps in the production of healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body.