Confessions of a Halloween Trickster

It’s that time of year again when most of the fall garden tasks are complete. (See Five Important School Garden Tasks for October for tips.) The harvest has been picked or preserved–figs jammed, pomegranates crushed, tomatoes canned–and we start to welcome winter squashes, including pumpkins! As most families are visiting the pumpkin patch or making their Halloween costumes, I’m scheming what to put on the porch for trick-or-treat.

Truth be told, I’ve never handed out candy for trick-or-treat.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy the spirit of Halloween. I just think it’s much more fun to hand out garden treats. Our neighborhood is small, so we don’t get that many visitors anyway. Early on, I realized that if I put a small display on the porch, trick-or-treaters can help themselves (or not). I usually hand out some kind of seed, but I’ve also handed out prepared foods (such as seasoned pumpkin seeds) or plants (e.g., fava beans). I almost always include instructions for a simple activity or, at the very least, growing instructions for whatever crop I’ve offered.

In addition to a departure from the expected, my Halloween tricks have an added benefit: no barking dog at the door! I’m partial to Shepherd breeds, which come with a special flair for protective behavior. Putting our display on the porch prevents the bell from ringing. This tactic provides peace of mind and is far less taxing for the introvert in me.

My trick-or-treat setup not only provides a more peaceful experience inside, it prompts more learning outside. Whereas running door to door to get as much candy as possible limits parent-child interaction, trick-or-treaters who visit my house have to slow down and figure out what’s going on. On several occasions I’ve listened to parents guiding their goblins to follow the instructions (and sometimes overheard compliments as well).

This year, trick-or-treaters will get Strawberry Popcorn seeds.

This year, trick-or-treaters will get Strawberry Popcorn seeds grown in a school garden and lovingly packaged by hand. It can be popped anytime or planted in late May. Popcorn is a great school garden crop because it takes less water, nutrients, and care than other corn. The cobs are left on the stalks to dry for about a month. Once removed, they can be left in the husks to dry for a month longer. They are fun to shuck and remove seeds from.

This approach brings out the trickster in me and allows me to “violate principles of social and natural order, playfully disrupting normal life and then re-establishing it on a new basis.” Isn’t that what Halloween is really about?

Happy Halloween!

Seasonally Related Posts from Gleaning the Field

Garden-Forward Costumes of Halloween Past

I will dress up when requested. Pictured above: Food Day 2014, Grape Harvest 2016 and Fall Faire 2017.

One Comment Add yours

  1. dnlaylandcomcastnet says:

    You never lived in Chicago a short distance from public housing (Cabrini Green). If you were over 6′ tall you got as much candy as you wanted.😌 Costumes were not required.


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