Giant novelty vegetables are rarely practical. While there’s something undeniably impressive about a marrow that could just as easily be used as a sofa as for dinner, the hassle of potentially having to drag one home from the supermarket makes any initial appeal quickly seem redundant. However, as one cunning farmer has proven, massive veg doesn’t have to be all about the visuals.
Tennessee-based farmer Justin Ownby has set the internet ablaze this week, with a pumpkin that makes Cinderella's carriage look about as glamorous as a mule and cart. In an attempt to beat the state record of 1,700 pounds, Ownby set out to grow his own orange goliath earlier this year, ending up with a whopping 910-pound gourd. It wasn’t quite enough to claim top spot, but Ownby wasn’t going to let his effort go to waste, instead opting to turn his produce into a sailing vessel.
According to an interview that Ownby and his wife gave to CNN, the pumpkin was a real passion project. In fact, Ownby has been attempting to breach the 1,000-pound barrier for four years, though this year is by far and away his best effort. As his wife, Christin, told the news agency, "He was out there daily watering it, covering it during the heat of the day and making sure the beetles didn't get to it." There was clearly something more than pride at stake. Love was blossoming in the Ownby’s vegetable patch.
Eventually, however, Ownby’s baby stopped growing. Despite being agonisingly short of the 1,000-pound target, he was determined not to let his efforts go to waste. Hollowing out the flesh and removing the seeds, Ownby transformed the pumpkin from a half-ton monolith into an ocean-worthy vessel, proceeding to record a video of him paddling across a local pond. It was only when he tried to stand up to celebrate that hubris caught up with him, and filled his “boat” with water.
Setting sail in a giant jack o’lantern might seem highly irregular to some. However, pumpkin sailing has a surprisingly rich history, evidenced by last month’s pumpkin boat races held in Morton Illinois. However, Ownby’s future lies firmly on dry land. As Christin explained to CNN, “He is hoping to break the 1,000-pound mark next year.” We wish him all the best.