Got Pumpkins? Kane County Will Offer Post-Halloween Recycling!

Got Pumpkins? Kane County Will Offer Post-Halloween Recycling!

Sure, your pumpkins and jack-o’-lanterns and decorative squash are all pretty right now, but they’ll probably start looking a little droopy after Oct. 31, right?

So why not make a little preemptive strike this year? Now there’s a way you can avoid getting your squash squished or your pumpkin smashed in the street by some young hooligan and do something good for the environment along the way.

Back by popular demand after its awesome inaugural year, Kane County, in conjunction with Pushing the Envelope Farm in Geneva and the Northern Illinois Food Bank, is hosting a post-Halloween pumpkin-composting event to help reduce waste.

“Don’t let your waste haunt you,” is the not-too-shabby tagline for the compostalooza, which will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 4 at Pushing The Envelope Farm, 1700 Averill Road, Geneva.

“Jack-o’-lanterns, pumpkins and decorative squashes are highly compostable, and it is a real shame to just send them to a landfill, when the nutrients they contain could instead be returned to soil that will grow more healthy food!” said Jennifer Jarland, Kane County recycling coordinator.

How does one compost Cucurbitaceae? We’re glad you asked.

Kane County will be accepting pumpkins and squashes for composting right on a farm! But it’s very important to keep your gourd contaminant-free, just as you would in food-scrap composting. That means no candles, yarn hair, stickers, googly eyes, plastic ears or plastic of any kind.

In other words, only the squashes, pumpkins and gourds themselves can be composted.

Pushing The Envelope

Pushing the Envelope Farm is a community farm and education center that provides hands-on educational experiences and explores the Jewish connection to the land.

(CREDIT: Pushing the Envelop Farm website)

The farm offers the opportunity to experience sustainable agriculture firsthand. Its operators provide a wide variety of custom programs and workshops for individuals of all ages and groups such as schools, synagogues, churches, home-schooled students and Scouts.

The 14-acre site hosts organic farmers who tend a range of plots, from garden-size spaces to multiple acres of land. The gardens and farm animals give visitors a chance to experience life on the farm.

The farm also grows food for the Northern Illinois Food Bank and the Ark of Chicago. See some photos here. And read more about the history of the farm here.

They are also listed on the Kane County Recycles website under “Drop-offs for food scraps.”

Tricia Margulies, owner of Pushing the Envelope Farm said the 2016 pumpkin recycling program was a win-win for Kane County citizens and the farm.

“We had a great growing season this year,” she said. “The soil was very much enriched by the pumpkins.”

Benefits of Composting

Jarland, a big advocate of food scrap composting, is a founding board member of the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition, working to advance food scrap composting in Illinois through program implementation, policy, and advocacy.

The goal for this Kane County event, besides reducing valuable resources from being sent to the landfill, is to educate residents about food-scrap composting and how to do it correctly. This means teaching residents about removing contaminants before composting, such as candles, stickers and any sort of decorations on their pumpkins.

A Brief History of Pumpkin Recycling Events

The first pumpkin recycling events in the northern Illinois region began four years ago with SCARCE, a non-profit organization in DuPage County, that collects donations of text books, office and school supplies, musical instruments, Britta filters, and the list goes on. (See full list of items they accept here.)

SCARCE then redistributes the items through their in-house store. Check out this video to learn more about all of their amazing programs.

The ‘In’ Thing

Pumpkin composting events, while fairly new, are really taking off this year.

“Last year was a great success, with 31 sites collecting a total of 56 tons of pumpkins for composting,” said Kay McKeen, founder and executive director of SCARCE. “Think of all the water and nutrients that were sent back to Illinois’ soil! This year, we look forward to expanding the collection by working with more locations and helping more residents green their Halloween.”

See list of all participating locations for 2017 on SCARCE’s website, and visit the Kane County Recycles webpage for more information on the program.

Jack-O’-Lantern Recycling Event

  • When: 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017
  • Where: Pushing the Envelope Farm, 1700 Averill Road in Geneva.
  • What: Kane County will be accepting pumpkins and squashes for composting right on a farm! It is very important to keep it contaminant-free; just like food scrap composting. No candles, stickers or plastics of any kind.
  • Cost: Free to residents of Kane County.
  • More Info: See the event flyer here (or scroll down)!

Questions? Contact Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland at 630-208-3841 or

SOURCE: Kane County Recycles news release

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