Metro, Newton

‘Smashing Success’: Newton Residents Fling Pumpkins at Annual Composting Event

A large line of children holding gourds twice their size stood waiting in line for a catapult outside Newton City Hall on Saturday during the city’s annual Pumpkin Smash. 

The soon-to-expire pumpkins flew into the air before landing in a pile of orange debris on the ground below.

“By focusing on this one kind of fun, Halloween festivity—and you know, pumpkins are kind of a special item—we can put them to better use than certainly throwing them in the trash,” said Allison Kelley, an organizer of the event. 

The Pumpkin Smash, an event that has been held annually since 2019, served as a chance for residents to learn about the ways to manage food waste and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

The event also featured tables with information about composting from Black Earth Compost, a company that composts for many families in Eastern Massachusetts. Black Earth Compost  was responsible for disposing of the pumpkins launched at the event.

A large catapult, built by the LigerBots—a robotics team from Newton North and Newton South high schools—was a fan-favorite way to launch the pumpkins, but residents also flung the gourds at a target or a tarp on the grounds. Kids took turns sitting in the tractors that were later used to remove their smashed pumpkins.

Brigid Rowlings heard about the Pumpkin Smash from one of her friends, and the two attended the event with their children. Rowlings’ son Luke was particularly excited after getting to use the catapult made by the LigerBots.

“It was a pumpkin explosion!” Luke said.

Julie Catalano attended the event with her two children, who were excited to smash their pumpkins using the catapult. 

“I thought it was a great way to get rid of our pumpkins in a way that was more environmentally friendly than just putting them out with the trash,” Catalano said.

Ellen Fink attended last year’s Pumpkin Smash with her daughter, who eagerly awaited a turn at the catapult at this year’s event. Fink said she composts through Black Earth throughout the year, making her one of 8 percent of Newton residents who subscribe to curbside organics collection services, according to signs posted at the event.

“We’re generating a lot of waste, and I think that as many things that we can keep out of landfills, the better,” Fink said.

Signs at the event also said that if everyone composted their food waste, Massachusetts would reach the state goal to reduce trash by 30 percent by the year 2030. Residents could donate leftover Halloween candy to the U.S. military in large bins at the event, another way to reduce waste. 

Kelley said the Pumpkin Smash was a valuable way for children to learn about recycling and composting.

“Hopefully [children] are absorbing information along the way and it starts a conversation among the family about waste and about waste reduction and composting,” Kelley said.

November 6, 2022