The Great Pumpkin Rescue Gives New Life to Old Jack-o-lanterns

Once again all of the elementary schools in the district participated in the annual Great Pumpkin Rescue shortly after Halloween. Pumpkins cannot be disposed of as yard waste since they are considered food. Since pumpkins and gourds are heavy and water-filled, putting them into the trash to be incinerated is not ideal and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Composting pumpkins takes them out of the waste system and allows them to be naturally processed for helping gardens, trees, and new food to grow.

Since the town’s drop-off compost program, known as FIDO, does not accept pumpkins, the district works with Black Earth Compost to make sure the gourds are taken away and turned into a valuable soil amendment. This is the vendor who collects school food waste. Each school designated a drop-off location on either November 2 or 3 that was staffed by volunteers.

As always, Arlington school communities responded to the Great Pumpkin Rescue with enthusiasm. This year the school communities filled three Black Earth Compost collection trucks with the colorful orbs. This is approximately 31 cubic yards and over eight tons of pumpkins. 

This is a great way to give new life to old jack-o-lanterns and seasonal gourds. The Great Pumpkin Rescue is spearheaded  by Arlington’s School Sustainability Coordinator Rachel Oliveri with support from the individual elementary Green Teams and the Arlington DPW.