How Halloween pumpkins can become a tasty treat for animals

·4 min read

Rather than letting Halloween pumpkins rot on the front porch, some people around Nova Scotia are suggesting creative ways to prevent them from going to waste.

For the second year in a row, Andrea Francheville is collecting a pile of pumpkins to donate to an animal sanctuary in the Annapolis Valley.

"I don't like to see food go to waste, so if there's another purpose or use for it, I'd love to see it going in that direction," she said.

Francheville, who runs a Facebook page for her rescued pot-bellied pig, Whitney, is a big fan of supporting non-profit organizations.

That's why she decided to collect the festive orange gourds to donate to the North Mountain Animal Sanctuary, which mainly rescues farm animals.

Submitted by Andrea Francheville
Submitted by Andrea Francheville

Last year, she said, the pumpkins were a big hit with the animals at the sanctuary.

"The sheep went crazy over them," she said. "The pigs, obviously, chomped them in one bite. So it was a great time to hand them off to them."

Francheville said pumpkins are nutritious and well-loved by a variety of animals. She's asking for donations of unpainted and unsprayed pumpkins to give to the sanctuary.

She's also asking that any donated pumpkins not be carved.

"Animals will eat a carved pumpkin, but they get most of their nutritional value from the inside of the pumpkin," she said.

"Hopefully, with the limited space we have … we would prefer to have pumpkins that are uncarved so they get the nutritional value from them."

Submitted by Andrea Francheville
Submitted by Andrea Francheville

Amanda Dainow, the president and co-founder of the North Mountain Animal Sanctuary, said the sanctuary doesn't take visitors, but donations through Francheville are welcome.

She said last year's donation came at a welcome time. The sanctuary had just taken in a 400-kilogram boar named Prince, and along with the rest of the sanctuary's animals, there were a lot of mouths to feed.

"It was great," she said.

"The sheep and the goats love them, we have some turtles that might like them, the turkeys and chickens like them, so pretty much everybody can share in the pumpkins."

Dainow said pumpkin seeds contain a natural dewormer, and the vegetable is good for both animals and people.

Submitted by Andrea Francheville
Submitted by Andrea Francheville

She said running a sanctuary is expensive and the pumpkins make for a "nice seasonal treat."

"People feel really good about being able to help animals in need," said Dainow.

"Especially at this time, everything is distanced as well, and they may not be able to volunteer directly or help in other ways, but they can feel like they're part of the sanctuary."

Animals 'love the pumpkins'

Over at Moo Nay Farms near Shubenacadie, N.S., the owner has collected old pumpkins for their animals every November for the past few years.

"We realized there was a lot of pumpkin waste, so we started collecting pumpkins," said Melvin Burns.

"We feed all of our animals with fruits and vegetables and numerous grains, and we don't feed with commercial feed products. So finding and sourcing food products is kind of a challenge."

Last year, Burns estimated the farm collected more than 50 tonnes of pumpkins. The farm is home to about 20-30 pigs and about 25 cows.

"They love the pumpkins. It makes better beef and better bacon. It's a better way to feed the animals, in my opinion," said Burns.

Facebook/Moo Nay Farms
Facebook/Moo Nay Farms

Individuals can go to the farm with their pumpkins and feed the animals themselves, which Burns said is a good opportunity for people to try their hand at farming and learn more about food waste.

Burns also uses a trailer to pick up big orders from people who choose to collect pumpkins from their communities.

Megan Jennex is one of them. It's her fourth year collecting pumpkins in the yard of her home in Cole Harbour, N.S.

Last year, it took two trailers to transport all the pumpkins she collected to Moo Nay Farms.

"There is such a problem with food waste, and it's a great way to repurpose the pumpkins and not just throw them in the trash," said Jennex.

"If we can find ways to repurpose them and put them to better use, then why not, right?"