Blooming pumpkins!

Cat Thomson speaks to Lucy Calder about what’s been happening down on Kilduff Farm.

The Calder family consists of Russell, his wife Lucy, and their three children, Maisie (14), Louisa (12) and Charlie (7) and they live on Kilduff Farm. They took over the running of the arable farm in 2010 and have made some changes. 

The Calders are passionate about educating people about where their food comes from. They have increased the biodiversity on the farm by planting orchards. They also grow oats, beans and wheat, and sell their own farm-grown flour, rapeseed oil, honey and apple juice. They also have a workshop space and rent commercial units to local businesses Fidra Gin, Laura Thomas Co and Hidden Beauty. Dahlias are yet another colourful crop they have started to grow. August is a busy month, as the flowers are blooming and the pumpkin festival tickets go on sale.

Lucy explains, “We planted some pumpkins as a diversification project to get our children involved and learning about farming. It can be quite difficult for children to help out on the farm on a day-to-day basis.” 

They opened their pick-your-own pumpkin patch in 2018, “The kids choose which varieties we grow and help us plant 30,000 pumpkin seeds, as well as water and pick them. It is great for them to see the business side of it,” she says.

Lucy says, “We are still finding the best types that suit the unpredictable Scottish weather. They are definitely not an easy thing to grow. They are very tricky, and we have lots of sleepless nights over the pumpkins. It turns out that pumpkins don’t like too much rain, or too much drought, and need just the right amount of sunshine and warmth, and there are also things like slugs and disease you have to deal with.”

The pumpkin varieties have quirky names like Harvest Moon, Mars, Wicked, Tractor, Jill Be Little, Festival and Crown Prince. They grow 17 traditional Halloween varieties for carving as well as 13 culinary ones.

Lucy would like to convert everyone into pumpkin eaters, and says, “Lots of people don’t know you can eat them. Pumpkins are so good for you, they are packed with nutrients and goodness, and antioxidants, plus they are high in fibre which means they are great for gut health, with high levels of vitamins A and C. We want people to cook with them, they are such a great ingredient.” 

As a result, the Calder family has to try out a lot of recipes, Lucy admits: “Charlie is not on board with the pumpkin revolution, he screws his face up quite a lot.” The family members are Halloween fans but Lucy admits, “By the end of October we have all seen enough pumpkins.” 

The pumpkin patch opens to the public from the 14th until the 28th of October, but you need to be quick as the tickets always sell out.

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