Long Lane Farm hosted the 17th annual Pumpkin Fest on Saturday, Oct. 16, after last year’s event was canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions. Pumpkin Fest—open to University students, faculty, and staff and Middletown residents—celebrates the fall harvesting season and the University and Middletown communities.
“I think that October feels like a very harvest-appropriate month because we have Halloween coming up,” Long Lane Farm Collective member Cambria Weaver ’22 said. “And also around this time in the semester everyone’s kind of having a tough one. I feel like it’s midterm season, so it’s really nice to have a lovely outdoor event like this to connect with everyone and have something to brighten up your weekends.”
Each year the Pumpkin Fest subcommittee, part of the Long Lane Farm Collective, plans the event. This fall, the subcommittee worked with College of the Environment Administrative Assistant Laurie Kenney, Dean of Students Rick Culliton, and Environmental Studies Program Chair Fred Cohan to ensure that Pumpkin Fest could happen in 2021 as a COVID-19-safe event open both the Wesleyan and Middletown communities.
“We really advocated for not just a closed-campus event, because community building with Middletown is the crux of what we’re trying to do here,” Weaver wrote in an email to The Argus.
As a result, all attendees were required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and to socially distance.
This year’s Pumpkin Fest included live performances by student bands, farm tours, bake and produce sales, clubs booths, and crafts such as rock painting, mask tie-dyeing, and corn necklace-making. Bon Appétit also provided free veggie burgers and drinks.
While students are paid for any work done on the farm, Pumpkin Fest is largely a volunteer effort. This year’s Pumpkin Fest subcommittee included 10 members and received assistance from student groups, Physical Plant, and the College of the Environment, which helped fund Pumpkin Fest.
“It’s really an all-hands-on-deck project,” Weaver said. “We’re really grateful just for everyone…showing up and doing work.”
The activities at Pumpkin Fest were closely associated with promoting sustainability. The Green Fund, which supports campus sustainability and is funded through an optional [“opt-out”] $15 fee included in undergraduate tuition every semester, was present at Pumpkin Fest to recruit more members, according to Green Fund member Debbra Goh ’24.
Goh expressed excitement for the opportunity to have Pumpkin Fest in-person this year.
“I think that it’s really lucky that we can get everyone all together to the farm… and celebrate the fall,” Goh said.
Pumpkin Fest was also an opportunity for Long Lane Farm to contribute to the Middletown Mutual Aid Collective, which does community work in Middletown. While Long Lane Farm does not grow any pumpkins itself, in the weeks leading up to Pumpkin Fest, students at Long Lane Farm picked apples for High Hill Orchards in exchange for pumpkins grown by the orchard to sell at Pumpkin Fest. University students and clubs also baked desserts for a bake sale, and Long Lane Farm sold some of its remaining produce from its fall harvest at the festival. All proceeds from the sales were donated to Middletown Mutual Aid.
“Every year we do a fundraiser, so we picked Mutual Aid this year ’cause they’re just doing amazing work,” Weaver said.
Due to the team’s abbreviated planning period as a result of COVID-19 concerns, Long Lane Farm’s ability to include Middletown musicians and vendors in Pumpkin Fest was limited. However, students still came for the music, pumpkins, crafts, and community.
“I love that we have events like this,” Sloane Dzhitenov ’24, who attended Pumpkin Fest, said. “It’s nice to see people come together.”
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Correction: This article mistakenly said that there were 50 members of the subcommittee. There are 10 members of the subcommittee and 50 members of the Long Lane collective. This article has been updated to include this change.