Education 2020: SQUASHFEST on Pender!

PENDER SQUASHFEST 2020 – see new VIDEO at (by outstanding Pender Island filmmaker Kenta Kikuchi).  Also, thanks so much to Vancity enviroFund, the Capital Regional District (CRD), and many others for supporting this project!

Celebrate the bounty of Pender’s winter squash and pumpkin harvest!  First came the earlier GULF ISLANDS FOOD CO-OP educational campaign on how easy it is to grow squash and pumpkin, the distribution of donated seeds, and ongoing support from Pender Coordinator Ben Dunsmuir on the Squashfest Facebook page.  Note: key squash harvesting and preservation info under the images below.

And now, at the Co-op Table for each Pender Saturday Market in October, there will be the display of dozens of different varieties of winter squash and pumpkin all grown on Pender this year, PLUS you can stock up on your winter’s supply, and for your Thanksgiving dinner.

Our wonderful growers have some extras they will be selling, fresh and sweet, AND the market vendors will be cooking up some squashy treats and treasures all through October.

These are lots of reasons to come to the Saturday Market at the Pender Community Hall, 9:30 am – 1:00 pm on each Saturday in October, 2020.

AN INVITATION TO GROWERS OF ALL SIZES:  Please contact if you have a few squash that you’d like to display, and/or have the Co-op sell for you in October.

Thanks so much for the Capital Regional District and also Vancity enviroFund for supporting this project!


As your squash begins to mature, there are three more steps to the process!  Harvesting at the right time, curing/drying at the right conditions, and then storing in the right conditions.

Winter squash is ready for harvest when the rind is hard and is difficult to scratch with a fingernail. But I don’t like to risk bruising the actual skin so my test is to see if I can dent the stem with my thumbnail; if I can’t really, then it is ready. The stem should look yellow and dried out and be like wood.
The skin of mature squash will be dull and dry looking; immature squash will have a bright skin with a sheen.
Harvest following a good stretch of dry, hot weather, and before there is danger of frost. (Frost-bitten squash will taste sweeter but won’t store very long!)
Cut the stems cleanly, leaving a couple inches.

Clean and polish the squash with a dry towel (don’t use water). (If you think it necessary, you can wash your squash with water while they are still on the plant, then wait a few dry days before harvesting.)
Lay your squash out with ample airflow for two weeks, ideally between 25 and 30C (in a greenhouse, in your living room, in the sun under shelter from potential rain…)

Store in a cool dry place, ideally between 10 to 15C with low humidity.
Do not store squash near apples, pears, or other ripening fruit. Ethylene gas released from ripening fruit can cause the squash to yellow and eventually rot.
Inspect your squash often and remove any that begin to rot so that the bacteria or fungus won’t spread.
Make sure to eat them before they go bad!

For more info: