The Oxford Pumpkin Festival returns for a fifth year to squash food waste

By Cait Sweeney at

The Oxford Pumpkin Festival is returning for its fifth year with events across the city run by the Good Food Oxford network. This annual event is a celebration of food: creatively encouraging people to think about the food they throw away, challenging preconceptions and teaching new skills. November usually starts with a flood of pumpkins being wasted, but Good Food Oxford organisations are encouraging people to “squash food waste” and eat rather than discard the flesh of their Halloween pumpkins.

The message is simple: Carve it, Cook it, Eat it – Don’t bin it!

This year, Oxfordshire farms are experiencing a glut of pumpkins so it is even more important for people to buy their pumpkin locally, to avoid a scary surplus for farmers come November.

Farms running pumpkin activities include Millets Farm and Sandy Lane Farm, with local pumpkins available for sale at Bonners in the Covered Market, community markets around Oxford (East, South, Wolvercote, Headington and North Parade Markets, and Talking Shop), Cultivate Oxford and Cultivate Online Shop, 2 North Parade, Wild Honey, Organic Deli and Oxford City Farm.


The festival is packed full of different events from start to finish. There is something for everyone, with activities including pumpkin-themed market stalls, surplus food cook-ups, community events and specials at some of Oxford’s best cafés and eateries.

One highlight is the tour arranged by Oxfordshire Recycles around Cassington Anaerobic Digestion Plant – where visitors will be able to see exactly where that mountain of pumpkins goes after they are put in the food recycling caddy. This is on Wednesday 31st October, 10.30am – 12pm.

The festival will end with a huge Disco Soup event in Bonn Square on Saturday 3rd November, from 11am – 3pm. The event will provide the opportunity for members of the public to chop, dance, celebrate & eat pumpkin soup to the beat of the music. People can find out just how much edible delicious food is being wasted, whilst having a good time and helping make sure some of it gets into hungry bellies. The event will be completely free and accessible to all.

The full festival programme is here: http://goodfoodoxford.org/oxford-pumpkin-festival

All the events will promote seasonal eating and not wasting food, accompanied by recipe cards with easy tips to reduce food waste.


The Oxford Pumpkin Festival uses the spooky pumpkin staple as a prop to talk about the edible food we throw away and the easy steps we can take to eat it instead. It’s a celebration of food that challenges preconceptions, teaches new skills and has some fun along the way. It was piloted in Oxford in 2014, by Good Food Oxford and Hubbub, and has now taken the world by storm.

In 2015 Pumpkin Rescue was taken on by 25 UK towns and even crossed oceans to the USA. In 2016 and 2017 it was back again, with more than 40 community festivals in the UK and across Asia, supporting 126 events. Since its launch, a whopping 17,000 pumpkins have been diverted from landfill. 199 local events and workshops have been attended by 12,200 people and over 70 million people have been told to eat their pumpkins by national and international press.

This year the Oxford Pumpkin Festival is supported by Oxfordshire Recycles, The Replenish Project, the Community Action Group Project and Oxford City Council’s Recycling and Waste Team.

Chloe Horner, Engagement Facilitator for Good Food Oxford said “There are so many amazingly tasty things you can do with pumpkins, so why waste them? You can make delicious soups, curries, risottos, tarts, cakes and even pumpkin brownies! Make sure you visit the Good Food Oxford website for recipes, ideas and more. There will be recipe cards at events throughout the festival, but if you can’t make it along to any we’ll also be posting pumpkin cooking hints and tips on social media; keep an eye on our Facebook page and search for #PumpkinRescue on Twitter!”

Marta Lomza from the Replenish Project said “When you buy something edible and then put it in the bin, you’re literally throwing your money away. This is especially shocking when it comes to pumpkins – in the UK only 5% of the 10 million pumpkins we grow every year are actually eaten, the rest are thrown in the bin. Pumpkin Festival events will help you learn more ways to eat pumpkins, and you’ll save money in the process! You may save as much as £70 a month if you cut down on your food waste – this festival is a brilliant opportunity to find out about ways to do it, and have fun at the same time.”


Good Food Oxford is a network of 130 organisations working together to make the food in Oxford better – healthier, fairer and more sustainable. Network members’ initiatives include healthy cooking on a budget workshops, food surplus cook-up sessions and celebrations, food growing workshops, farm visits, seasonal recipe sheets and children’s cooking workshops. Good Food Oxford seeks to support the existing work of many organisations in and around the city to improve our food system, to catalyse new initiatives and collaborations and to encourage more joined-up strategy and policy around food issues.

For more info visit: www.goodfoodoxford.org