Imagine walking around a field of crops near the end of harvest. You notice while everything else is rotting, one particular vegetable seems to hold shape throughout the winter months. This experience got one creative farmer thinking.
Gourds do not act like other crops throughout the fall and winter. If you leave them out in the elements they do not get damaged and can eventually be hollowed and dried out.
Meadowbrooke Gourds knows this process better than anyone and has turned a family farm on Old Potato Road in Carlisle into the World's Largest Gourd Crafting Company.
The vigorous process begins with a 24-hour window of time to hand pollinate the gourds. During the nights of pollination the crew wanders through the fields spraying and swabbing the plants. On productive nights the crew can pollinate up to 600 blooms!
During the harvest season at Meadowbrooke Gourds they bring in 3,500 individual pieces each week and grow over 200 varieties of gourds, including crazy names like dippers, warty penguins and goosenecks, on 200 acres. After the first frost workers return to the fields and clip the gourds from the vine allowing them to dry out all winter. Then in March its back to the fields again to collect the gourds and the process begins again in November with seed harvesting.
If you visit Tuesday through Saturday during production times you can see the entire process. You won't want to miss the system of blasting the gourds with 1,900 pounds of pressure to push out all the seeds or the big automatic washtubs that scrub all the gourds clean. After this process, workers drill holes, apply paints and stains, and handcraft the gourds into birdhouses, vases, lamps, animals and more.
Plan ahead of time to attend a class where you get to paint your own gourd creation!