Horticulture grow gigantic pumpkins to aid local homeless

Oaklands College Co-Ordinator in Horticulture Michael Steward has embarked on a community project close to his heart and has enlisted the help from his Horticulture students along the way.


Oaklands College Coordinator in Horticulture Michael Steward has embarked on a community project close to his heart and has enlisted the help from Oaklands students along the way. 

Michael and his Horticulture students teamed up with students from Carpentry and Joinery in a cross-campus project creating a giant pumpkin patch, proceeds from sponsorship would be donated back to the Springfield Centre to fund a sensory garden. 

Mike’s inspiration came from his late 9-year-old nephew, who sadly lost his battle to Leukaemia. 

The cross-curriculum venture involved a variety of different departments and students across Oaklands College’s St Albans campus. Carpentry students voluntarily built the framework of the pumpkin patch, installing fencing for Springfield supported learners to paint and decorate. 

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

The food produced from the harvest will be given to the local homeless in St Albans and surrounding areas. 

The pumpkins, which are already weighing in excess of 100kgs was shown at RHS Garden Hyde Hall on October 5th at the Taste of Autumn event. 

After harvest, Horticulture Coordinator Michael Steward plans to gift “chucky” the giant pumpkins seeds to local schools to challenge them to grow their own pumpkins, in time for a competition at next year’s Autumn Fair at Oaklands College.

The venture will help local homelessness charity ‘Open Door St Albans’. The Open Door Homelessness Service is a night shelter and daytime drop-in for vulnerable people in St Albans. The service provides accommodation to up to 12 people each night, and provides them with a hot meal. The night shelter is supported by the work of the Open Door Charity. Their vision is to make sure people do not have to turn to sleeping rough in St Albans. 

Oaklands College are looking forward to working with Open Door again in December, when the colleges St Albans campus welcomes students’ friends, families and colleagues for the annual St Albans Sleepout, its third successive year at Oaklands College.

Registration for this year’s St Albans Sleepout can be made via www.stalbanssleepout.org.uk.

‘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. Michael is so passionate about helping the homeless, and we can’t wait to see the pumpkin inspired menu.”

If you’re interested in entering our competition, all you need to do is guess the weight in kg that you think “Chucky” the giant pumpkin weighs, £1 per entry, winner to be unveiled at this year’s Autumn Fair on 5th October, more information can be found out via our website. 

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