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Wendy
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Pumpkin Rescue Festival

For the past two years, towards the end of October, around Halloween, we have worked with environmental charity, Hubbub, to hold a North London Pumpkin Rescue Festival. The main aim of the project is to encourage people to not just think of pumpkins as Halloween decorations, but as a tasty and versatile vegetable! The Pumpkin Rescue Festival celebrates the pumpkin, trying to ‘rescue’ it from simply being thrown away as post-Halloween waste. We produced a film about the 2015 Pumpkin Rescue Festival - to view it, click here.

Events and Activities

The Pumpkin Rescue Festival includes a range of different activities:

  • Pumpkin Parties: this is our big celebration event, where we give away portions of pumpkin soup, offer pumpkin-themed fun and games as well as tips and tools about ways to reduce food waste. During 2016, we actually ran two of them – one in Islington and one in Waltham Forest.
  • Cookery sessions: we hold cookery sessions in each of the north London boroughs, teaching attendees how to make all sorts of things, using pumpkin – for instance, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin curry, and pumpkin pasta sauce, to name just a few!
  • Compost drop-off points: we provide a range of locations across north London where residents without their own compost bin, or food waste service, can take their pumpkin to be composted. In 2016, Tesco worked with us and hosted a number of these drop-off points outside their stores.
  • Pumpkin pop-ups: community groups are encouraged to run their own smaller pumpkins feasts, to help spread the Pumpkin Rescue Festival message, as well as help people reduce their food waste.

What did we achieve?

The 2016 Pumpkin Rescue Festival was a great success. We ran 14 events in total and spoke with 2,258 north London residents about pumpkin waste and about reducing their food waste.

The ingredients used to prepare all the dishes were, as far as possible, sourced from ‘surplus’, which means they would otherwise have gone to waste. In addition, the pumpkins were sourced from a farm in the New Forest, where a cancelled order meant they would otherwise have gone to waste. Hubbub 'gleaned' them and brought them back to London where 3,900 were rescued. In total, the project made sure that 2.8 tonnes of food was eaten, instead of being thrown away.

The Pumpkin Rescue Festival also received a lot of press and media interest. We estimate that 9.6 million Londoners had the chance to see or hear about it. In fact, if everyone who took part in the project was able to reduce their food waste, even by a small amount, we estimate that 16.3 tonnes of food could be saved from disposal each year. That’s about the same weight as an adult male sperm whale!