Calling all community groups, local authorities, schools and food fanatics! It’s March, time to plant ideas for your #PumpkinRescue festival. If you’re not planning one already here are 5 great reasons why you should, accompanied by our quick How To Kit and the full pumpkin spread

1) Carve up Halloween convention 

18,000 tonnes of pumpkins are dumped into landfill each year at Halloween. Last year UK households spent more than £300m during this period - just behind Christmas and Easter. Asda alone now sell more than 1 million pumpkins every Halloween.

If the commercialisation of Halloween comes from the USA, unfortunately we haven’t imported their tradition of eating pumpkin pie, but, we're trying to change all that with a celebration of Halloween that unites communities and cuts pumpkin waste through the promotion of cooking, composting, careful consumption and cultivating your own. Don’t worry if you’re not green fingered, we’re here to help. (Download our guide below).

Forgo trashy costumes and candy for a family-friendly festival focused on bringin people together to share skills, grow and eat good food and have fun. Host a Pumpkin Rescue Festival and you'll see spooky levels of enthusiasm for reducing food waste year round.

2) Put your area on the map

The Pumpkin Rescue Festival is more than a great opportunity to take food waste off the menu - it’s the perfect opportunity for putting your area on the map, whether you're a town or a village group, we'll help you to shout about about your event.

In 2015 we supported 20 Pumpkin Rescue Festivals across the UK, including 1 in the United States. The campaign received a fantastic amount of media coverage in local and national publications with a total reach of over 1.7 million and we're thrilled to say that the campaign has been shortlisted for a 2016 Guardian Sustainable Business Award. 

Activity on social media was equally pumpin', with a total reach of more than 2.8 million. Scroll through the #PumpkinRescue 2015 Storify or join us in getting the pumpkin rolling for 2016. You might want to start with the tweet below.

3) Squash food waste 

You've just heard a scary fact: every Halloween 18,000 tonnes of pumpkins get sent to landfill. Want to hear an even scarier fact? UK households waste more than 7 tonnes of food each year.

Over the last 2 years we've experienced first hand how perfect the pumpkin is for raising awareness about food waste from farm to fork. A Pumpkin Rescue can creatively encourage people to think about the food they throw away by hosting entertaining, affordable and accessible events. In the past this has included gourd growing, pumpkin-themed cooking classes, pop-up events, composting sessions and post-Halloween drop off points. The #PumpkinRescue is yours to make your own, it has no limits.

Let's create a groundswell to squash food waste, host a Pumpkin Rescue in your local area.

4) Celebrate variety

The Pumpkin Rescue is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the different heirloom varieties of pumpkins, gourds and winter squash that can grow in the UK. Despite a short season, pumpkins grow quickly with seedlings planted in June ready for harvesting in October. Celebrate our agricultural heritage by taking on the humble pumpkin on your plot.

Growing tips galore

If growing's not your bag, revel in the varieties available in the green grocer come harvest time. Which do you think tastes the best?

5) Cook & compost as a community

The Pumpkin Rescue is the perfect occasion for a party. Last year’s events brought people from different age groups and backgrounds together. Community gardens and centres, cafes and restaurants opened their doors in celebration of the UK’s favourite spooky staple, valuing its life, from seed to compost heap slush. 

Cooking workshops

Helping people to make the most of their Jack O'Lanterns around Halloween saves money and reduces food waste whatever the time of year. To reach a wide audience consider running pumpkin-themed cooking workshops in partnerships with schools, colleges or community groups, or why not host a mass pumpkin-themed lunch on Halloween?

Composting workshops

Understanding the basics of composting is an important step to reducing the amount of food sent to landfill. Post-Halloween composting sessions and pumpkin collection ensures that our gourd-eus friends end their days in dignity and encourages people to embrace composting all year round, even those without much outdoor space.

6) Get a helping hand. Download the Pumpkin Rescue 'How to kit'.

Wondering where to start? Overwhelmed by the field of opportunities? Don’t fret. Our “How to Kit” has everything you need to get started.

We've pulled together all of the tools, tips and tricks that made our past Pumpkin Festivals a success to create a simple guide that we can give away so you can do the same. From social media campaigns to the booking venues, from funding to insurance, everything is covered making it easy for you to get started. Whether you’re a student, local authority or a community growing group, the pumpkin challenge is for you.

For more information find out more or drop us an email

Photo by Valerie Moberg, Flickr

Help spread the word - tweet your support: Each Halloween 1,500 double decker buses of edible pumpkin go in the bin. Host a #PumpkinRescue & squash #foodwaste: http://ow.ly/ZaNt1