Best ever pumpkin harvest for Slindon

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Robin Upton's pumpkin display in the village of Slindon © Robin Lang

Robin Upton's pumpkin display in the village of Slindon

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Latest update 29.10.2013 17:54

Slindon’s famous autumn pumpkin display has survived gale force winds and lashing rain to reveal a bumper harvest, which will be at the centre of the village’s Hallowe’en celebrations.

Every autumn, this picturesque village becomes Britain’s unofficial pumpkin capital, when farmer Robin Upton and his team build a pumpkin and squash display, which attracts visitors from all over the world. Created using over 70 varieties of pumpkin and squash, the flamboyant display is different every year, and this autumn depicts Cinderella dashing back from the ball in a pumpkin carriage. It took Robin and his team 66 hours to build.

A bumper harvest in 2013

Robin’s crop was wiped out last year, but this year the story is different: 'We had a 90 per cent crop failure in 2012; it was awful,' said Robin. 'But this year, everything related to autumn harvest seems to have done exceptionally well, and I can honestly say this is the best crop I can remember. Even last weekend's atrocious weather didn't put a dent in the display!'

Pumpkin’s ‘secret’ life caught on camera

This is also the first year in which one of Robin’s pumpkins has been caught on time lapse camera. The film, created by National Trust pumpkin enthusiast and digital expert Alex Tarling, is a capsule ‘art house’ production, showing the pumpkin growing and changing colour, through sunshine and showers.

'The Upton pumpkin display is an integral part of village life here, and one we all enjoy, so it’s lovely to have a hidden element of it caught on film. It’s amazing to see how much goes on in the life of a pumpkin actually!' said Mark Wardle, the National Trust’s Head Warden in Slindon.

Not just pretty, but a seasonal harvest indicator too

Mark continues: 'Robin’s harvest is also a bit of a seasonal indicator as to how the country’s crops have fared in general. This year, conditions have been perfect; we’ve had bumper quantities of apples on the village trees and I’ve seen wonderful displays of fungi on the wider estate, as well as hedgerow crops such as sloes and blackberries. In fact, now’s the time to get outside and experience some really fantastic autumnal sights.'

Keeping the pumpkin tradition alive

Robin is keeping alive a tradition that was started by his father, the late Ralph Upton, who grew pumpkins for over 40 years. Ralph and his wife Barbara also wrote a book of recipes to accompany the crop, their own favourite being a thick creamy soup made from the beautiful blue-grey Crown Prince squash.

The pumpkins are available for sale until well into November, and the display and sales area are open from 10am until dusk at 4 Top Road, Slindon, West Sussex. On 31 October, they are open until 8pm.