Harvesting work ethic

Staff, The News
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PICTOU - While their younger sister Elaina sits with her grandfather in his pick-up truck, Ella, Elizabeth and Euan Ross are content to unload some pumpkins and squash on a Saturday morning, carefully placing them on the ground for any customers who might turn into their driveway.

The Ross family has been busy harvesting pumpkins, gourds and squash at their Riverton farm. From left are: Elizabeth, Ella, Elaina and Euan. 

You might say that Ella planted the seeds for this late-summer operation; it all started when Ella, now aged nine, saved a few seeds from a pumpkin and dried them out by placing them near her granddad’s wood stove on the family farm.

Flash forward a few years, and there are hundreds of pumpkins, squash and gourds sitting near their Riverton home, with more yet to be harvested.

The siblings help pick, clean, sort them and put them out for sale.

“We had a few pumpkins growing in the family garden and when we carved a jack-o-lantern, she saved the seeds,” said Ella’s dad Mark Ross, who with his wife Virginia watches as the children – without being asked – carefully but efficiently unload the pick-up truck.

The family farm seems to be instilling a work ethic in these youngsters; last week, as the pumpkins were ready to be plucked from the vine, “they spent probably two hours after school, unloading the truck and a four-wheeler trailer,” Mark said.

While they were somewhat late getting started on the harvest this year, (“everything was late because of the late spring,” Mark says), the crop is a bountiful one. And once we get closer to Thanksgiving, Mark says, that’s when sales will really start to pick up.

Ella is wearing a t-shirt with the words ‘Cowgirls Don’t Cry’ emblazoned across the front, and says that some of the pumpkins aren't quite ripe enough. “When you leave them out in the sun, they will ripen,” she explains.

Unless it’s a really big sale, Ella handles the money and makes the change, usually offering some advice to the pumpkin-buyers.

“I tell them not to carry them by the stem; it can break the stem off.”

Her mom says Ella is very mature for her age, and Ella admits that one of her favourite parts is dealing with the customers who come in to check out the harvest.

“I like harvesting them. I like cleaning them and when someone drives in the yard, I usually run out,” to greet them, she says.

Geographic location: Riverton

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