Cambridge Pumpkin Festival 23rd October – 7th November 2015
Inspired by Good Food Oxford’s 2014 Pumpkin Festival, and with the help of Hubbub UK, we organised Cambridge’s very first ‘Pumpkin Rescue’ Festival: two weeks of events, many free, for children as well as adults, raising awareness about food waste and encouraging people to think creatively about how to avoid it.
We collaborated with local charities, businesses, community groups, faith organisations, restaurants and eateries, to organise over 30 fantastic events – everything from pay-as-you-feel cafes, recipe swaps and pop-up lunches, to pumpkin specials on menus across the city, lantern carving and a kids’ disco soup.
We’ve rounded up some of the best events, photos and contributions from social media to give you a flavour of the festival – and to whet your appetite for what’s to come in 2016!
23rd October: Pumpkin Festival Launch Night
For the launch event we gave St Paul’s a pumpkin makeover, decorating the hall and creating a magical seasonal atmosphere. We invited Sam Joseph, of Bristol Skipchen, to be our keynote speaker; his inspiring talk was followed by a series of short presentations by some of Cambridge’s own social enterprise food projects: Alex Collis of FoodCycle, Rachel Newell of food4food and Mark Cornell of the Prospects Trust at Snakehall Farm.
The evening was a great success, with fantastic music from The Misspent Ukes and delicious food from FoodCycle. Other highlights include a raffle, a ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ pumpkin carving display, and stalls from a range of local organisations.
29th October: Making the Most of Food Cooking Workshop
This fully-booked half-term event was popular with both adults and children. We invited families to a hands-on lunchtime workshop about how to get the most out of pumpkins at Halloween. The workshop was led by Sam Dyer, of Curly Kale Cafe; participants got to learn about different seasonal squash, as well as about food waste and how to avoid it with home cooking. Families were then invited to cook pumpkin risotto at their own workstation, following Sam’s demonstrations. After the cooking, everyone stayed to enjoy the fruits of their labour together – a successful event with an end result to be proud of, and plenty of happy bellies too!
30th October: Lanterns of Light
Organised by St Paul’s, this multi-faith event was one of the most well-attended, with many families from different Cambridge communities taking part. As well as the lantern carving there were refreshments, and a series of moving talks by different faith leaders from Cambridge.
24th and 31st October : ‘Let’s squash food waste’ Pumpkin Stall
On two Saturdays during the Pumpkin Festival we set up camp outside the Guildhall in Market Square, and invited weekend shoppers to taste free pumpkin soup and pumpkin flavoured snacks, guess the squash on display, pick up pumpkin recipe cards, and take home a composting caddy.
The response was fantastic, despite the rain on the first weekend, with over 500 people engaged over the two events and roughly 200 samples of soup (provided by FoodCycle) handed out to cold and hungry passers-by!
This was the perfect opportunity to tell people about the festival, why we were doing it – and what can be done at home to tackle food waste!
25th October and 6th November: Pip’s Pay-as-you-feel Pumpkin Pop-up
FoodCycle pulled out all the stops for these special Pumpkin Festival pop-ups. The menus on both occasions were diverse and inventive; diners were impressed with the creative skill as well as the quality of the food – especially considering most ingredients were destined to become food waste! Both pop-ups were fully booked, and the satisfaction of attendees showed in the donations: diners were asked to pay how much they thought the meal was worth, by putting their money in an envelope – the first event alone raised over £500!
7th November: Kids Disco Soup
The final event of the Festival sought to bring an international phenomenon to Cambridge, and give it a family-friendly twist. The idea of a disco soup is to cook together with food that would otherwise be wasted, whilst bopping to tunes provided by a DJ, and then eat the end product all together. Led by Sam Dyer, the Kids’ Disco Soup was all about getting families involved in the cooking – although the younger ones weren’t put in charge of the chopping! The evening was a fun and lively end to the two weeks of events.
Further information and resources
Below you will find further information about the 2015 Cambridge Pumpkin Festival. ‘The Pumpkin Story’ is all about the background of Halloween, and the food waste statistics driving the message of the ‘Pumpkin Rescue’ festival across the UK. In the ‘What can we do?’ section, you’ll find some of the suggestions we made to people throughout the festival, about how to get a local pumpkin and make the most of it. The ‘Recipes’ section provides cooking inspiration for using up the insides of Jack O’Lanterns – many of these can be used after Halloween for winter squash as well. The ‘Events’ page provides the full 2015 festival listings, with details about individual events and links to organisers.
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