Oaklands College in St Albans grows giant pumpkins to help the homeless

PUBLISHED: 09:51 20 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:32 20 September 2019

Giant pumpkins are being grown at Oaklands College in St Albans. Picture: Oaklands College

Giant pumpkins are being grown at Oaklands College in St Albans. Picture: Oaklands College

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A giant pumpkin patch at Oaklands College in St Albans will help the homeless as part of a community project.

Giant pumpkins are being grown at Oaklands College in St Albans. Picture: Oaklands CollegeGiant pumpkins are being grown at Oaklands College in St Albans. Picture: Oaklands College

The college's horticulture coordinator launched the project with the help of his students, inspired by his nine-year-old nephew who sadly died from leukaemia.

Proceeds from sponsorship will be donated to the college's Springfield Centre for students with special educational needs, to fund a sensory garden.

To create the pumpkin patch Michael and his students teamed up with students studying carpentry and joinery, who built the framework and installed fencing, which Springfield supported learners will paint and decorate.

The catering and hospitality department have volunteered their culinary expertise to the project, and will prepare a special menu consisting of pumpkin, cabbage and marrow all grown from the plot.

Michael Steward with the giant pumpkins which are being grown at Oaklands College in St Albans. Picture: Oaklands CollegeMichael Steward with the giant pumpkins which are being grown at Oaklands College in St Albans. Picture: Oaklands College

Food produced from the harvest will be given to Open Door St Albans, which helps homeless people in St Albans and the surrounding areas and aims to ensure people do not have to turn to sleeping rough.

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The charity provides a night shelter and daytime drop-in for vulnerable people, with hot meals and accommodation for up to 12 people each night.

Open Door fundraising, publicity and administration manager Sarah Chambers said: "It's such a fantastic opportunity to work closely with Oaklands College and the horticulture and catering departments.

Giant pumpkins are being grown at Oaklands College in St Albans. Picture: Oaklands CollegeGiant pumpkins are being grown at Oaklands College in St Albans. Picture: Oaklands College

"Michael is so passionate about helping the homeless, and we can't wait to see the pumpkin-inspired menu."

The pumpkins already weigh in excess of 100kg, and will be shown at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Garden Hyde Hall in Chelmsford on Saturday, October 5, as part of the 'Taste of Autumn' event.

After the harvest, Michael plans to gift seeds from 'Chucky' the giant pumpkin to local schools to challenge pupils to grow their own pumpkins, in time for a competition at next year's Oaklands College Autumn Fair.

This year's Autumn Fair will be held at the college from 10am to 3pm on Saturday, October 5, and visitors will be able to learn about bees and wildlife, meet animals and enjoy a range of tasty foods.

To book visit the Oaklands College website.

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