For anyone in search of the Great Pumpkin of Halloween, look no further than the streets of Isla Vista tonight.
Every Halloween, Greenhouse Gardens Project member Bill Trautwein parades his giant pumpkin around the streets of Isla Vista on the back of his truck for the amusement local residents.
This year’s 350-pound pumpkin will help add to the spirit of Halloween, Trautwein said.
“I grow them so that people can forget their problems, ’cause when people see them, all they think about is this huge pumpkin,” said Trautwein. “At least for a couple of minutes, they smile.”
Trautwein has been growing a pumpkin every year for the last four years on campus using the resources of the Greenhouse Gardens Project. While this year’s 350-pound pumpkin is still an impressive sight, it only weighs about half as much as the one he grew last year.
Last year his 752-pound pumpkin won fifth place at the Borchard Farms California State Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off in Salinas and ninth place at the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival.
Trautwein grows the pumpkins organically, which sets him apart from most other prize-winning squash. Last year’s was one of the largest organically grown pumpkins in the nation, said Kristen LaBonte, who helped Trautwein grow his current pumpkin.
“Everything comes from natural sources,” LaBonte said. “He fertilizes the pumpkins with fish emulsion and kelp extract, and doesn’t use any pesticides or chemical fertilizers.”
Trautwein is already planning to grow an even bigger pumpkin for next Halloween.
“The seeds for this pumpkin came from an award-winning 1,262-pound pumpkin,” Trautwein said. “So I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to break the 1,000 mark next year.”