CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — After all the candy is sorted and the fall decorations are put away, it can be hard to figure out what to do with those leftover jack-o-lanterns.

While many send their gourds to the landfill, there are actually a lot of creative ways to repurpose your pumpkin into a treat for others.

Local family farms

Did you know that pigs, chickens, and other farm animals love pumpkins? Many local farms take pumpkins, gourds, vegetables, fruits, and more.

Stephanie Watkins, the owner of Watkins Farms in Mount Pulaski, said she has nine pigs and 67 chickens on her farm, and they love pumpkins. If someone wishes to donate, she said to contact her.

“It’s not every day you can go feed a pig. It’s a win-win for everybody. The kids go nuts! Just a good experience all the way around for everybody,” said Watkins. 

The pumpkins are also a natural dewormer for the animals, she said. “We take a lot of things; they will eat gourds, pumpkins. They are natural dewormers, so it keeps the pigs healthy.”

To contact Stephanie to donate your pumpkins, contact her by text or calling at 217-871-2417.

Pumpkins on the menu

If your pumpkin is un-carved, consider adding it to your family dinner. Doug Gucker, with the University of Illinois Extension Office and frequent contributor to the WCIA-3 morning show, said there are many dining options for your pumpkin. 

He said to split the pumpkin in half, take out the seeds, and then bake it at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, with the cut side down. After 45 minutes he said to check on it, “if you can flip it over and easily scoop, it is done, and if not, flip it back over and cook a little longer.” 

Another option, putting the remains into a food processor for a puree. “It makes great pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread. It is far easier than the old method of cutting it off the rind, boiling it, and smashing it,” said Gucker. 

Smash don’t trash

If you have a carved pumpkin, or aren’t interesting in cooking it, you can also give it back to mother nature. “If you have a carved pumpkin and a compost pile, you can put a smashed pumpkin on the compost pile and be done,” said Gucker. 

If there is no compost pile, Gucker said you could dig a hole, bury it, and it will decompose, allowing the nutrients to be released, and other plants will have a life because of the nutrients. 

For anyone looking for a little more excitement, many communities host pumpkin smashing events to provide more composting opportunities.

The City of Springfield is hosting their second annual Pumpkin Smash on Nov. 5 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. off of Washington Street.  

“This event, geared for all ages, is to help educate the community to smash–don’t trash–your jack-o-lanterns and other seasonal gourds,” said the City of Springfield in a press release. 

Attendees can chuck, smash, or stomp their pumpkins in one of the designated “smash zones.” Remains from the smashing will be placed in a dumpster and hauled away by Evans Recycling for composting.

If you have any questions about the event, contact the City’s Office of Public Works at 217-789-2255.