- Associated Press - Thursday, October 20, 2016

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Each fall, pumpkins vendors are faced with a curious predicament: how to dispose of unsold pumpkins.

The gourds, while essential to most autumn decorative schemes, emit an offensive odor as soon as they turn. The smell leaves vendors unwilling to chuck their “punkins” directly into the trash and turn instead to more creative means of disposal.

“They are so nasty we don’t like putting them in the dumpster,” said Clarinda Crawford, pastor of Congress Street United Methodist Church.

Crawford said the church’s patch is well-stocked for the inevitable holiday rush. It recently had a delivery of 3,080 pumpkins and anticipates a second shipment of more than 2,000. Other pumpkin patches, like Wea Creek Orchard, are similarly pumpkin-laden, ensuring a surplus of pumpkins.

Most pumpkin vendors, however, have in place time-honored protocols to deal with this eventuality.

Leftover pumpkins from Congress Street usually are carted away by Joy Fabbri-Coombs, who owns Wispy Willow Farms in Frankfort. There, she feeds them to her sheep, goats, chickens and turkeys. They are a nutritional snack, she said, and the sheep adore them.

“All I have to do is throw them in and they devour them,” Fabbri-Coombs said.

Caity Judd, event coordinator at Wolf Park in Battle Ground, said the park has a tradition of giving pumpkins to the wolves. In fact, the park has an event designed around the idea.

Judd said Pay Less Super Market stores give the park old, unwanted pumpkins. Children are invited to carve the pumpkins, which are then stuffed with pigs ears or spam for the wolves. It’s like a puzzle they have to solve to reach their Halloween goodies, Judd said.

“We have made the pumpkin pie out of the insides and (the wolves) seem to be curious about it,” Judd said.

At Wea Creek Orchards, where visitors pick pumpkins from the vine, owner Perry Kirkham said he doesn’t have to think too much about pumpkin disposal.

“Pumpkins take quite a few elements out of the soil. … So we leave them there for fertilization,” Kirkham said. Sometimes people want them for horses or livestock, Kirkham said, but the vast majority are plowed under to ensure a healthy crop the following year.

But there’s one place the pumpkins aren’t as welcome.

Teresa Warner, owner of Sheepdog Farms in West Lafayette, said in the past she fed her hogs pumpkins, although now hog rearing is done by Halloween since her animals live outside. Surprisingly, Warner said, the hogs weren’t always game for the seasonal snack.

“They like them but they can get tired of them very quickly,” Warner said. “Pigs won’t eat just anything like people think.”

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Source: (Lafayette) Journal & Courier, http://on.jconline.com/2e8KW47

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Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com

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