Good growing conditions this year has resulted in a healthy harvest of pumpkins which have seen sales take off earlier than previous years in West Norfolk.
Pumpkins are also growing in popularity as food for the table, according to a Lynn farm shop, in addition to the long-established tradition of carving them as Halloween decorations.
Lucy Melton, manager of Knights Hill Farm Shop, said: “In previous years they have been used predominantly for Halloween decorations, but this year we have noticed more people coming in with pumpkin recipes.
“Pumpkins are very versatile and can be used for all sorts of dishes, such as soups and pies – and even pumpkin cheesecake. At the shop we have seen sales increase, and what has been most noticeable is that they have started to sell much sooner than before. Normally we would expect them to start selling well towards the end of October, but this year they were already being bought at the beginning of the month.
“Year on year our sales are definitely up.”
Lucy’s father, Mr Stuart Melton, grows pumpkins at Castle Rising, Narborough and West Acre. He said: “We have a good summer this year and pumpkins thrive with the sun.
“We also irrigate during the growing season and some of the pumpkins have grown to be quite large. Demand for pumpkins is good and it is getting earlier every year. This year we were already selling from October 10, whereas normally this would be around October 20.
“Pumpkins are good value for money - they are about as much as a child can lift - and families enjoy good old fashioned fun getting together to craft them and place candles inside.
“People are also using them a lot more for culinary purposes. I also grow butternut squash and demand for this is expanding year on year. In recent years I have been growing ten per cent more squash and pumpkins annually to meet demand. People’s tastes are changing and they are becoming more adventurous with food.”