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Fri., Oct. 9
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Growers sell pink pumpkins for a good cause


Is Halloween an orange or pink holiday?

Trick-or-treaters might notice a pink glow on porches when they ring doorbells this Halloween. The rosy sheen will be emitted by pink pumpkins, which were grown by north country farmers to raise awareness for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October.

For each pink pumpkin sold, a donation goes to the Pink Pumpkin Foundation, a nonprofit that funds research organizations seeking a cure for breast cancer.

Jay J. Canzonier, owner of North Branch Farms, Belleville, has about 200 pink pumpkins for sale at $5 apiece, and he will donate all of the proceeds to the foundation. Mr. Canzonier and other growers are encouraging communities in the north country to make a unified effort by displaying the pink-skinned gourds on their porches.

Families who visit Mr. Canzonier’s farm, who are provided a wagon and clippers to collect pumpkins, are already scooping up the pink ones fast. Doing so is a way to make jack-o’-lanterns more creative while giving back to a meaningful cause.

“Putting a pink pumpkin on every porch could really catch on,” said Mr. Canzonier, who’s selling about 5,000 pumpkins at his 75-acre field this season. “It seems like a no-brainer. Every family is affected by some form of cancer or disease, and our family is no different — so it hits close to home.”

Breast cancer is one of the main causes of death among women. In 2008, more than 210,000 women were diagnosed with the disease and some 40,500 died during that year, according to the latest statistics available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mr. Canzonier, who has grown pumpkins at his vegetable farm for three years, ordered about 1,000 of the pink variety of seeds from Seedway in Hall, Ontario County, before he heard about the breast cancer fundraiser. When the foundation called this summer to ask if he’d like to donate any proceeds, he decided to chip in.

At the time, “they told me there are only about seven of us doing this in the state,” he said, explaining that it will likely take time to evolve into a bona fide tradition. “I think I’ll do this every year.”

DeKalb resident Michael B. Livingston, who’s sold pumpkins as a family hobby for seven years, joined the pink pumpkin bandwagon by growing a collection at his farm at 3967 Route 11.

Also called Porcelain doll Pumpkins, the pink pumpkin seeds are crossbred from pumpkin and squash and, like a box of chocolates, “you never know what you’re going to get,” said Mr. Livingston, who purchased the seeds from Neseeds in Connecticut.

This year’s drought meant fewer and smaller pumpkins, but he still has plenty to go around, especially pink ones. He didn’t not know just how big an impact the pink pumpkins would have on his customers until a woman from Delaware visited his pumpkin stand last week.

“Many people stop here from all over,” Mr. Livingston said. “But this particular woman was special. Her husband told me she had cancer three times, breast cancer twice. So I showed her the pumpkins and I gave her a couple. She thanked me with tears in her eyes. It’s nice to be able to do something like that for somebody like that.”

The pumpkins have a little bit more ripening to do before they reach their natural bright pink hue, said Mr. Livingston, who sells a variety of pumpkins, squash and gourds at his farm.

“They start off green but slowly turn white and then to different shades of pink as they ripen,” he said.

For every pumpkin sold, Mr. Livingston will donate 25 cents to Pumpkin Patch Foundation and an additional $1 the St. Lawrence County Cancer Fund, which grants funds to breast cancer research organizations.

“Every family has been affected with breast cancer or some kind of cancer,” he said. “I wanted to do something to show my support of the families that have been affected.”

Like Mr. Canzonier, Mr. Livingston said he would like to see a pink pumpkin on every porch. He has already ordered more pink pumpkins seeds for next year.

“That message really touched me,” he said. “It makes me feel good to be able to help.”

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