Happy Halloween, family! We’re breaking tradition this week, deviating from the informative and the educational and, quite frankly, having a little bit of fun! And no offense, but we think we deserve it- HQ staff are busy as ever, reviewing and re-reviewing proposals, wrapping up high tunnel construction for the  year, and are currently eyeballs deep in applying for a federal grant!

Ah, yes, that time of year is upon us, it’s almost Halloween: costumed children with their plastic pumpkin buckets, fall colors in full bloom, the sounds of ringing door bells and the choruses of “Trick or treeeat!”, and sugar rushes to follow. Personally, I think I enjoy the holiday as an adult more than I did when I was younger, and that may have to do with the fact that, at the tender age of 12, I was told by my mom “You’re too old for that” when I asked if I could go trick-or-treating. An added bonus is that HQ staff are super cool in letting us dress up. Ok, enough of that. Something we at HQ just started doing this year is planning out our blogs and newsletters months in advance, so for this week, it’s listed as a “free-for-all”. Having honed and developed my writing skills over the past year, I struggled for a few days in coming up with a good topic, and after getting tired of racking my brain, I just decided to sort of go with it and do a little bit of everything…all related to Halloween, of course!

Driving into work the other day, I was listening to the radio, and the station had a mom call in, talking about her teenage son and something he was doing with his friends: She called it “Alternative Trick or Treating”, and her son and his friends were knocking on people’s doors and giving them candy! I was so tickled I almost had to pull over 🙂 We had something very similar happen to us yesterday: during a meeting, we were kindly interrupted by some folks from Boone Tavern, presenting us with some candy, “just because”. Needless to say it was all gone in about fifteen minutes…

Of course, now that most everyone has put their gardens to bed for the season, you may be stuck with some goods that you might not know what to do with. Everyone knows a jack-o-lantern, but maybe try a jack-o-turnip or jack-o-squash with your kiddos- it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but it could definitely be fun.


Or maybe not…?

Alternatively, try your hand at pumpkin or squash puree, instead of the canned varieties, and use it for breads, pie, soup, etc. I made some puree a few weeks ago and made a pumpkin pie from it, took it to the office the following Monday and it was gone before lunch time! This is the recipe that I used. If you have younger kids, there’s nothing wrong with some good old-fashioned paint and an active imagination. Check out this link…isn’t that just adorable?


Have you ever been to a corn maze before? It’s exactly what it sounds like: Usually located on a farm or orchard, a corn maze is an intricately mapped-out design that you navigate through a field of corn. It’s like a maze, in the sense that there is a starting and ending point, so I guess “labyrinth” would be a more appropriate term. There’s usually other activities, such as hay rides, petting zoos, fall food and beverages (hot apple cider and funnel cake, anybody?), and games. I visited one in Lexington my sophomore year of college, and it was definitely worth the while! Browse online for any in your area and pack up the family or your friends for a fun afternoon or evening! Or maybe even incorporate a mini DIY corn maze or garden maze into your own space- at least no one will get lost (hopefully!)

Speaking of farm: If you happen to live on one, or have family that lives on one: PUMPKIN BOWLING! Line up some straw or hay bales to make a “lane”, use whatever you can for pins (boots, 2-liter bottles, anything…), and a pumpkin for a bowling ball- voila! The best part is that you don’t have to worry about the dreaded gutter ball or the crazy shoes.

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If you’re a bit on the crafty side, the sky is the limit! Just now, I typed in “fun halloween activities” on Google, and got more than 52 million hits, with *surprise, surprise* most of them being craft-related. Crafts are a good idea if maybe trick-or-treating gets rained out, or for indoor recess, or if you just want something fun to do before you head out the door for your Halloween party or community event. We’ve already talked about painting pumpkins and carving them, but what about all the other Halloween beasties? Make a black cat from a sock, a Q-tip skeleton, a handprint spider, or a paper plate witch! Alternatively, if any of your Grow Appalachia participants have any leftover canning jars lying around that they’re not using, make a fun Mason jar lantern!

And what good is any holiday without food? I mentioned pumpkin puree earlier, but maybe try some other “treats” that will be sure to delight you and your guests! A favorite that I grew fond of in my middle school years was dirt dessert, which is a mixture of cream cheese, Cool Whip, powdered sugar, vanilla pudding, and milk, with crumbled Oreos and gummy worms on top. Yum! For those trying to eat healthier, try a tangerine pumpkin with a celery stem, or a banana ghost- and stay tuned in the next couple of weeks, as we’ll be covering how to eat healthier during the holidays. Perhaps the two monstery concoctions below will help to inspire you!


And finally, especially since we still have a few more weeks left of fall, pending Mother Nature’s cooperation, this time of the year is perfect bonfire season! Get together with your family or some friends and celebrate the night and the great outdoors, roasting some marshmallows or whatever else you fancy cooked over an open flame. Gather around and tell ghost stories (or make some up), or tell stories about your family or ancestors. Costumes optional!

What sort of spooky fun do you have planned for All Hallows Eve? Get creative, and have fun but please be safe, and until next time, happy scares!