By Barb Brouwer
Special to the Observer
It is said that Stingy Jack roamed the deeply dark countryside of England, Scotland and Ireland hundreds of years ago.
According to the Irish myth, Stingy Jack tricked the Devil more than once. When he died, the Devil kept his promise not to take his soul, but God did not want such an unsavoury character into heaven.
Instead, Jack was said to wander the world and to protect themselves from him and other evil spirits, the Irish began putting a chunk of burning coal in a carved out turnip and displaying it near a window or door.
First called Jack of the Lantern, then changed to Jack O’lantern, the people of Ireland and Scotland began carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes. Large beets are the Jack O’lantern choice in England.
When the tradition arrived in North America, it was discovered that pumpkins make perfect Jack O’lanterns, offer lots of room for creative carving and are a nutritious food.
No longer carved to scare off spirits of any kinds, the practice of carving a variety of designs on pumpkins has become a fun component of Halloween for many families. Instead of scaring anything away, a lighted pumpkin lets trick or treaters know there is likely great treats to be had.
As Halloween approaches, some 300 pumpkins ready for carving will be ready for picking in a fundraiser for Second Harvest Food Bank from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 at Green Acres, which is located at 1050 60th St. SW in Gleneden.
Catherine Parsons said her dad, Nick Parsons, retired from his large Dawson Creek grain farm to his 20-acre Gleneden property in 2014.
“He is a member of the garden club and loves growing things, so he decided to put his heart into pumpkins and spaghetti squash,” she said. “He is passionate about growing food and always grows enough root vegetables to see the family through the winter.”
Nick is also a champion of local food security and Catherine volunteers at the Second Harvest Food Bank, so donating proceeds from the pumpkin patch event there fit perfectly.
“It’s hard to get healthy, nutritious food when you’re low income,” she said, pointing out Second Harvest does not get any government support, relies solely on donations and does not question anyone’s eligibility. “Another nice thing about the pumpkin patch fundraiser is that any unsold pumpkins will go to Second Harvest so low income families can make Jack O’Lanterns.”
Some will go to Crossroads Free Methodist Church, which operates a lunch program for people in need. This nutritious and versatile orange fruit features flowers, seeds and flesh that are edible and rich in vitamins. Pumpkin is used to make soups, desserts and breads.
On Oct. 15, pumpkins will be available by donation and Nick and his wife, Jane, will offer lawn games for children along with cookies and hot chocolate.
“If you can afford $10 a pumpkin that would be great, if not, whatever you can,” Catherine said, hoping visitors to the pumpkin patch will keep in mind who will benefit from the fundraiser.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter