Halloween works a treat for farmer

Jenne BrammerBroome Advertiser

Australians are increasingly embracing the Halloween celebration, which is proving a business treat for Broome horticulturalist Rusty Dredge.

Mr Dredge has carved himself a niche as WA’s only grower of the large ball-shaped Jack-o’-lantern pumpkins, which have been available in Perth supermarkets since early this month.

His Ginmore Farms this year produced 100 tonnes, or 15,000 of the pumpkins, more than 10 times his first crop of 2009.

“The Halloween celebration has become more popular in Australia, and with that demand for carving pumpkins has taken off,” he said. “Our operation has grown to meet that demand and the Halloween pumpkins now represent about a quarter of the farm’s income.”

Coles sells the large pumpkins online for $14.50. Coles said its demand for Halloween pumpkins across Australia had trebled in the past three years. Woolworths and IGA have also stacked their shelves.

Ginmore Farms also supplies South Australia and some pumpkins have been airfreighted to Singapore.

Mr Dredge said he planted about 5ha of the Jack-o’-lantern pumpkins in June, using seed imported from America. Harvest started in mid-September in preparation for October 31.

Mr Dredge said there had been trial and error, but he was now confident growing this variety, which attracts a fair price and sits alongside watermelon, rockmelon, asparagus and other pumpkin varieties.

He is frustrated that red tape has stopped him embarking on a bigger asparagus venture.

Mr Dredge joined the WA Fresh Produce Group to form Kimberley Asparagus, chosen by the former State government to develop the Skuthorpe horticultural area, east of Broome.

But not one seedling has been planted because the Department of Water and Environment Regulation has not issued land-clearing permits.

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