War of the pumpkins at Raglan’s Crop Swap

Raglan’s crop swappers pitted pumpkin against pumpkin at the inaugural Pumpkin Festival at the Raglan Bowling Club on Sunday.

Vying for top honours for heaviest, biggest, best carved, best decorated, smallest, oddest and best pumpkin baking, over 70 people attended with pumpkins in all shapes and sizes, and baked into various sweet and savoury delights.

Crop Swap guardian Bexie Towle say the idea for the festival was seeded last year and many took up the challenge when giant pumpkin seeds were offered at a crop swap.

“We were all hoping for a giant pumpkin, but mine ended up being too small to win biggest, too big to win smallest, so I drew a mandala on it, and it ended up winning for pumpkin art,” Bexie says.

Bringing together backyard gardeners, home bakers and food foragers for swapping and sharing high quality local food on a regular basis, guardian Suz Hall reckons Crop Swap is a great way for Raglanites to share their surplus and at the same time get to know the local community.

“It just blows me away the incredible generosity of people’s swaps, fuelled by the pleasure of giving, reducing waste and creating community. I think one of the most meaningful parts of Crop Swap is the sharing of plants and seeds, that go on to be cultivated, the food and seeds brought back to crop swap, and then the cycle starts all over again,” Suz says.

As well as sharing the garden abundance, there is also the sharing of garden wisdom from members with many years’ experience getting the best from their patch.

“We all learn gardening tips from Geoff bringing his homemade banana and milk fertilizer. I feel like I am not alone with my gardening anymore there’s such lovely people to ask advice at each swap,” Suz says.

Bexie says having garden produce is not a requirement of joining Crop Swap and baking, preserves, jams and other homemade or caught food items can be shared.

“Once I just brought bags of soil – garden mix and compost – because I was just starting my garden. I had no veges yet, but did have some extra dirt. I went home with seeds and plants, and a couple months later I was very excited to bring back greens from my own garden.”

Crop Swap has been operating in Raglan for the past two years, every first and third Sunday of the month at the Raglan Bowling Club starting at 9.30am – the next Crop Swap is Sunday, April 21.

Janine Jackson


Pumpkin Festival results

Biggest: Fiona and Ross (132 cm)

Heaviest:  Claire Wimmer (12.82kg)

Kids Heaviest : Ocean Burke (7.6kg)

Smallest: Sonya

Smallest Kids: Isla Limbert and Ayla Thompson

Oddest: Catherine Lee

Oddest Kids: Ocean Burke

Pumpkin Art: Bexie Towle

Carving: Anne Carter and Roger

Kids: George Bull

Cooking (savoury): Anna Cunningham’s pumpkin dip

Cooking (Sweet): Valerie Bianchi’s pumpkin pie