Nova Scotia

How Halloween pumpkins can become a tasty treat for animals

Some people in Nova Scotia are finding creative ways to repurpose old Halloween pumpkins by giving them to animals for a festive treat.

'If we can find ways to repurpose them and put them to better use, then why not, right?'

Andrea Francheville is donating old Halloween pumpkins to an animal sanctuary in the Annapolis Valley. (Submitted by Andrea Francheville)

Rather than letting Halloween pumpkins rot on the front porch, some people around Nova Scotia are suggesting creative ways to prevent them from going to waste.

For the second year in a row, Andrea Francheville is collecting a pile of pumpkins to donate to an animal sanctuary in the Annapolis Valley.

"I don't like to see food go to waste, so if there's another purpose or use for it, I'd love to see it going in that direction," she said.

Francheville, who runs a Facebook page for her rescued pot-bellied pig, Whitney, is a big fan of supporting non-profit organizations. 

That's why she decided to collect the festive orange gourds to donate to the North Mountain Animal Sanctuary, which mainly rescues farm animals.

Whitney, a rescued pot-bellied pig, chows down on a pumpkin. (Submitted by Andrea Francheville)

Last year, she said, the pumpkins were a big hit with the animals at the sanctuary.

"The sheep went crazy over them," she said. "The pigs, obviously, chomped them in one bite. So it was a great time to hand them off to them."

Francheville said pumpkins are nutritious and well-loved by a variety of animals. She's asking for donations of unpainted and unsprayed pumpkins to give to the sanctuary.

She's also asking that any donated pumpkins not be carved.

"Animals will eat a carved pumpkin, but they get most of their nutritional value from the inside of the pumpkin," she said. 

"Hopefully, with the limited space we have … we would prefer to have pumpkins that are uncarved so they get the nutritional value from them."

Last year’s pumpkin haul filled up Francheville’s car. (Submitted by Andrea Francheville)

Amanda Dainow, the president and co-founder of the North Mountain Animal Sanctuary, said the sanctuary doesn't take visitors, but donations through Francheville are welcome.

She said last year's donation came at a welcome time. The sanctuary had just taken in a 400-kilogram boar named Prince, and along with the rest of the sanctuary's animals, there were a lot of mouths to feed.

"It was great," she said.

"The sheep and the goats love them, we have some turtles that might like them, the turkeys and chickens like them, so pretty much everybody can share in the pumpkins."

Dainow said pumpkin seeds contain a natural dewormer, and the vegetable is good for both animals and people.

A goat enjoys a festive treat at the North Mountain Animal Sanctuary. (Submitted by Andrea Francheville)

She said running a sanctuary is expensive and the pumpkins make for a "nice seasonal treat."

"People feel really good about being able to help animals in need," said Dainow. 

"Especially at this time, everything is distanced as well, and they may not be able to volunteer directly or help in other ways, but they can feel like they're part of the sanctuary."

Animals 'love the pumpkins'

Over at Moo Nay Farms near Shubenacadie, N.S., the owner has collected old pumpkins for their animals every November for the past few years.

"We realized there was a lot of pumpkin waste, so we started collecting pumpkins," said Melvin Burns.

"We feed all of our animals with fruits and vegetables and numerous grains, and we don't feed with commercial feed products. So finding and sourcing food products is kind of a challenge."

Last year, Burns estimated the farm collected more than 50 tonnes of pumpkins. The farm is home to about 20-30 pigs and about 25 cows.

"They love the pumpkins. It makes better beef and better bacon. It's a better way to feed the animals, in my opinion," said Burns.

A group of animals dig in last year at Moo Nay Farms. (Facebook/Moo Nay Farms)

Individuals can go to the farm with their pumpkins and feed the animals themselves, which Burns said is a good opportunity for people to try their hand at farming and learn more about food waste. 

Burns also uses a trailer to pick up big orders from people who choose to collect pumpkins from their communities.

Megan Jennex is one of them. It's her fourth year collecting pumpkins in the yard of her home in Cole Harbour, N.S.

Last year, it took two trailers to transport all the pumpkins she collected to Moo Nay Farms.

"There is such a problem with food waste, and it's a great way to repurpose the pumpkins and not just throw them in the trash," said Jennex.

"If we can find ways to repurpose them and put them to better use, then why not, right?"

Smashing pumpkins

Some people sought a more dramatic farewell to their jack-o'-lanterns at the 9th Annual Harvest Hootenanny in Halifax.

Violet Gray and her mother Megan dispatch a pumpkin to the compost heap. (Robyn Simon/CBC)

The event is hosted by the Common Roots Urban Farm in Bayers Lake as a way of connecting with the community.

David Christiensen helps Hazel Gray with the jack-o'-lantern carnage. (Robyn Simon/CBC)

Parents and kids were given the opportunity to stomp, kick or bash their pumpkins into oblivion.

Adrian Herod, a volunteer at the farm, said the smashed pumpkins will be turned into compost to be used on the farm next season. 



Alex Cooke


Alex is a reporter living in Halifax. Send her story ideas at