Rake in Sales With Fall’s New Moneymakers

Courtesy of Wally S., Wally’s Urban Market Garden, Saskatoon SK

Pumpkins and winter squash have become a bigger part of my fall crop repertoire over the years, and this year chefs are buying them by the wagon loads.

I am using $1.00 per pound as the base line, but I give chefs a price break on the larger ones, say in the 40 pound range. They want the heirloom types – Cinderella, Boston Marrow, Amish pie, Australian Butter. Now is the time to plan on capturing this market, ahead of other vendors.

As you start thinking about your 2016 crop repertoire, be sure to include these types of crops along with the classic SPIN storage crops of beets, carrots, onions and potatoes. If I can manage to get off a good crop in zone 2, which has an early FFF (first fall frost) date, growers with longer seasons will make out even better.

SF photo pumpkins and squash wagonload

The chef from Ayden Kitchen and Bar hauls away a $100  order of pumpkins and squash. This crop is keeping my sales going strong right through fall.


Pumpkin Patch is Serious Business

Courtesy of Wally S., Wally’s Urban Market Garden, Saskatoon SK

You’ve probably heard the joke that it’s time for pumpkin flavored everything. But my pumpkin patch is no joke. It’s a big contributor to my income. Different criteria come into play in deciding whether a crop is worth growing – cost, ease of growing, market demand, space, and weather risks. Pumpkins and winter squash mostly weigh in on the plus side. One negative is they require a lot of space, but that means they are perfect  for my larger per-urban plot. The big headache to growing them is weather risk. Every year is a battle with the FFF – First Fall Frost.

Right now I have 7 SPIN segments planted (a total of 7,000 square feet). The plot is about a half hour from my home base.

SF photo pumpkin patch

It’s too big to cover with row cover, so the crop just has to tough it out as the temperature drops. There are about 500 pumpkins and winter squash in the plot now,  widely varying in size. If the current weather holds until the end of the month, my expected yield is 3,000 – 4,000 lbs. Varieties include Cinderella, Boston Marrow and Pink Jumbo.

I harvest them and then put them into storage. All of my sales are direct market. Chefs will buy whole large heirloom pumpkins for around $25 each. I price smaller ones between $5 and $20 for sale at the farmer’s market. I also cut up the largest ones, and sell by the slice. That way I can make $30 + per pumpkin. So there are a lot of different ways to make money from this crop. Jack-o-lanterns isn’t one of them.

SF photo pumpkin face


The one downside to growing pumpkins for Wally is he has to hope  Mother Nature delivers a treat rather than a trick. 

Pumpkins Can Be Worth $40 – $50 Each

Courtesy of Wally S., Wally’s Urban Market Garden, Saskatoon, SK
One of the aims of SPIN is to turn low value crops into high value ones. Pumpkins are a good example. I harvested heirloom pumpkins from a 4,000 sq. ft. plot at a peri-urban site this weekend with the help of some friends. Gail put the harvest into our storage facility we have in Pleasantdale,SK. It was around 130 units, with average weight of 20 to 30 lbs.  So that means total weight of around 2,000 – 3,000 lbs.from only 4,000 sq. ft Each unit will be cut into pieces and sold at market, with some being worth $40 to $50 each. This pumpkin probably weighs about 40 lbs., so it earns its keep. It is called Boston Marrow pumpkin and is great for pies.

SPIN photo crop pumpkin 40lbBoston marrow