Pumpkin plea brings thousands to Levee

The line to buy pumpkins from The Levee stall had at least 30 people in it throughout the day.

The line to buy pumpkins from The Levee stall had at least 30 people in it throughout the day.

It took two farmers and a 40-tonne pumpkin crop to attract huge crowds in The Levee that are unheard of between food festivals.

Now there are calls for a regular produce market in the new-look mall and a range of businesses are considering selling buckets of local produce for farmers in their shops.

All of this has stemmed from the outpouring of support for Morpeth pumpkin growers Matthew Dennis and Tony Milburn who had lost hope of making any money from their crop and were about to plough it into the ground.

What a caring and compassionate city we are. 

Thousands of people from Maitland and the surrounding area pitched in to support them at Thursday’s pop-up stall. Some bought between 10 and 30 pumpkins, while businesses and community groups got on board with massive orders of 300 and 200 pumpkins.

That is a lot of pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, pumpkin ravioli and whatever other pumpkin-themed dishes one can create with the vegetable.

The overwhelming show of support proves that Maitland’s connection with agriculture is unwavering, despite the decline in the amount of land that is now used for farming.

Our roots are in the land. A lot of us come from farming families who made a living growing crops, milking cows, or raising beef cattle, and we haven’t forgotten it.

Each day we depend on our farmers to nourish us with fresh food, but sometimes we become so caught up in our busy lifestyles that we aimlessly buy our groceries at major retailers and scarce give a thought to how much the farmer is earning for helping to keep us alive.

Imagine earning 20 to 25 cents per pumpkin every year for 20 years, while the cost of living and producing the crop is constantly rising. No wonder Mr Dennis and Mr Milburn were about to plough the 40-hectare crop into the ground. 

Thankfully there are people in the city like Amorelle Dempster who could not turn away. She instigated the pop-up stall and urged Maitland City Council to support it in The Levee. Then she gathered a group of volunteers and they worked tirelessly to sell the pumpkins.

The news that complete strangers turned up at the Morpeth farm to pick the pumpkins on Thursday is further evidence of what a great city we are. Well done Maitland.