LUBBOCK, Texas – When your decorative pumpkin display starts to decay, it’s easy to want to toss it in the trash. It turns out that many people do just that. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, over one billion pounds of pumpkins end up in landfills each year.

To help combat that, The Volunteer Garden in central Lubbock takes in old pumpkins from the community and repurposes them. 

“It’s always wonderful to collect pumpkins because they can be composted, I can feed them to the chickens or I can use them to help some friends that have livestock like pigs and cows,” said Cindy Talbot, the lead gardener for The Volunteer Garden. “They can eat pumpkins if they’re not moldy.” 

Since leftover gourds are compostable, they eventually create nutrient-rich soil that helps the garden grow future plants.

“Pumpkins are 95% water, so as much as it doesn’t rain here, when you put a pumpkin into your compost and you’ve cut it up, it’s going to create some water that’s going to get down into your compost and help it break down faster,” Talbot said.

Talbot said The Volunteer Garden accepts all pumpkins no matter if they are carved or painted. All you have to do is drop them off on the curb by the sign attached to the white pole on 37th St. and Louisville Ave.

“Anytime they carve a pumpkin, they can save all of what they pull out of it and donate that to the garden,” Talbot said. “Even though we can’t really compost all of them, or let the animals eat them, we can still cut them open, and get the seeds out. We dry them, save them and give them as little packets of gifts, and we sometimes donate some of them to the seed banks at the libraries.” 

The Mahon (1306 9th St.), Godeke (5034 Frankford Ave.), Groves (5520 19th St.) and Patterson (1836 Parkway Dr.) libraries all have seed libraries. You do not need to have a library card or pay to take seeds, but they do take monetary donations to help pay for seed envelopes and labels.

If you’re overwhelmed by the sight of your sunken jack-o’-lantern, there’s no need to fear. As Talbot puts it: No guts, no glory.

“It’s always interesting to see how people react to the insides of a pumpkin,” Talbot said. “I have special gloves just for that mushy work, and it’s a lot of fun for me.”

To learn more about The Volunteer Garden (3702 37th St.), you can find them on Facebook or reach out by email.

The Sow & Grow Seed Library and Exchange is a joint project of Lubbock Public Library and the Lubbock Master Gardener Association. For additional information, click here.

Other places around town where you can donate your pumpkins for composting throughout November:

  • Booker T. Washington Garden (2109 Cedar Ave.)
  • Roscoe Wilson Magic Garden (2807 25th St.)
  • South Plains Food Bank GRUB Farm (304 76th St.)
  • Guadalupe Community Garden (202 Avenue P)
  • Christ the King School Garden (4011 54th St.)