The Story of a Pumpkin
This year, my sister (at Dutch Roost Farm), shared some of her extra pumpkin seedlings with us.
My father, who can’t stand to waste a thing, stuck the dozen or so seedlings wherever he could find space- the compost pile, the weed pile… in a spare corner by the field. They didn’t look great- the seedlings were stressed and yellowed; they should likely have been planted 3 weeks before he got to them. But those tenacious plants spread their green tendrils and proceeded to grow with the vigor of Jack’s beanstalk. Still, we fretted that he got them in too late and they’d never mature before the frost.
Fast forward to October-- we are running out of room to store the beautiful, porcelain-skinned orbs harvested from those determined plants, and I’ll never doubt the magic of a family heirloom seed again!
My sister was gifted the seeds of this pumpkin by her grandmother-in-law about a decade ago. No one knew what kind they were, so she dubbed them ‘Grandma Bensman’s Pumpkin’. Grandma Bensman was given the original seeds by a man who was a faith healer living in Indiana and she grew & saved the seed for years. This pumpkin seems to be especially suited to our growing conditions- it puts up with humidity, pests, weeds- things that bring even some of our modern hybrids down each season. It’s early maturing for such a vigorous plant and the pumpkins keep in storage for a year! And perhaps the most important attribute of all-- few rival this variety for a superb pumpkin pie!
We will continue growing this wonderful variety, not just because it’s a fantastic pumpkin, but as a way to remember & honor its namesake- Grandma Bensman. As my sister so eloquently puts it: “…saving seeds can be a wonderful way to remember a loved one and pass on their story to others. Grandma Bensman was a farm wife and mother to 10 kids, was known for the thousands of quilts she sewed and gave away to the needy - she was one of the hardest workers, kindest souls, and had the most unshakeable faith of anyone I've ever known. These pumpkins that bear her name are every bit as tough, tenacious, and sweet as she was.”