Let’s face it, most people simply throw their pumpkins away in the trash and think there’s no other option. Good thing former Argyle resident Addison Smith and current Flower Mound apartment dweller Trae Atchison have come up with an alternative Called the Riverwalk Pumpkin Drop, they have spent the day after Thanksgiving through the following Monday the last three years collecting pumpkins. After utilizing Atchison’s place in 2021 and part of the parking structure near the Flower Mound restaurants last year, they moved to the adjacent empty field this year with stunning results. “The idea is to reduce organic matter going into landfills and also generating feed for farms naturally,” Smith said. “We want to use all the resources available to us and pumpkins are like a natural parasite prevention for our animals.”
Smith’s husband Ryan grew up in Flower Mound and the couple lived in the town for a short while after meeting online in 2016. They married the following year and moved to Argyle before relocating in 2019 to the community of Sunset near Decatur where they own a farm called Permaculture Pastures. Their nearly 200 acres features 30 cows and they also lease another 160 acres nearby. The idea to recycle pumpkins started in 2017 with the Smiths driving around their then Argyle neighborhood to ask people to donate the used fruits to help feed their two pigs on their three-acre land. They filled up the back of a pickup truck and continued after moving to Sunset. At first, they tried collecting immediately after Halloween but only received carved and rotten pumpkins. Plus, they learned many people kept their pumpkins through Thanksgiving. So, they tried both holidays which also didn’t work well and switched to after Thanksgiving.
They also raised and delivered grass-fed beef to residents in Flower Mound and beyond and asked customers if any had pumpkins to recycle and picked them up when they delivered the meat. They had people bring the pumpkins to them. Through one of their customers, they met Atchison, who lived in the Riverwalk and had similar recycling/green living ideas. Atchison saw pictures of the Smith’s feeding their animals and asked if she could help. She offered for people to bring pumpkins to her location in 2021. The response overwhelmed Atchison prompting her to talk to the restaurants which offered a spot in the parking garage in 2022. “One day in, they were calling saying ‘you guys need to come get these pumpkins because we didn’t realize it was going to take up several spaces in our parking garage,’” Smith said. “So, we called other farms to ask if they could pick up early. We needed to prove we needed space, but we weren’t ready for it to be that full on Day 1.”
Not wanting to block the parking area and cause traffic problems, the restaurants let them move to the field this year which proved phenomenal with more than 150,000 pounds collected. That followed 10,000+ pounds in 2021 to more than 37,000 last year. It certainly helped that the Keep Flower Mound Beautiful group became involved including promoting it through social media and at town event booths. “Everyone in Flower Mound is getting behind this,” Addison said. “We had people who said ‘thank you for doing this. We don’t like throwing them in the garbage.’” The larger space allowed them to also collect hay and straw bales all of which went into
dumpsters provided by Republic Services and taken to their farm. Any excess pumpkins were donated to about nine farms and homesteaders.
The Riverwalk Pumpkin Drop has proven to be a great way for Smith and Atchison to promote renewable, regenerative agriculture. “Part of the heart in it is part of what I do on the farm is sustainable and what will help us produce food for future generations,” Smith said. “This just seemed like a natural next piece. When Trae got involved and blew it up for us, sharing it with other like-minded producers is awesome. It feels good to do your part and create a resource that doesn’t need to go in the trash.”