Real Life

Grace Lusty: The pumpkin patch kid!

Hamilton schoolgirl Grace Lusty has a growing ambition. The green-fingered youngster grows prize-winning pumpkins in her parent's backyard.
Grace Lusty pumpkin kid

Eight-year-old Grace Lusty is not like most other little girls. What gets the Hamilton youngster excited isn’t the latest toy or doll, but her growing passion for pumpkins. The delightful Grace has made a name for herself around the world for her collection of pumpkins and this season alone, she’s grown more than 1000 of them. Every possible space in her family home is chock-full of pumpkins, some of which are three times her own weight.

“I get so excited growing big things,” Grace says, with visible glee. “When people see my pumpkins, they are very impressed. I always get a ‘wow’ reaction.”

Grace discovered her love for the popular vege when she was just six years old. She entered a local pumpkin growing competition and won with her 62kg entry – the victory encouraging her to fully embrace her new love. “I wanted to keep going and see how many and how big I could grow my pumpkins. It makes me different from the other kids at school, but they are all very supportive.”

Grace has been interested in growing pumpkins since the age of three.

Growing pumpkins means long hours and hard yards. Grace first collects the seeds she needs and plants them in October. By March, they’re ready to be plucked from the ground, and Grace is always excited to see how big they have grown. Her biggest pumpkin weighed in at 92kg. “After I plant them, I water them every night and feed them with a special mix of manure and fish guts that I make myself,” Grace tells.

Grace also takes responsibility for weeding and maintaining the patch.

Grace helps other Hamilton schoolkids join in the fun by sending them packets of seeds.

Father Gareth says he lends a hand when Grace needs help, but most of the work is all her own doing. “She’s getting better at what she does,” he tells. “She has a real drive to do this.”

Now, Grace is encouraging other children to share her passion for pumpkins. She’s organised kids from local schools to grow the veges and sends them seeds to start them off.

Each year, she encourages her followers to enter The Great Pumpkin Carnival – the 2015 extravaganza took place a fortnight ago at Hamilton Gardens. It features pumpkin categories such as “Largest” and “Best Carved”.

“It’s great to help other kids get involved,” says Grace. “They can see for themselves how much fun this is.” A little sister to Mikayla (14) and Hope (12), Grace has received worldwide attention for her hobby.

Her Facebook page has more than 700 followers and she writes a column in the US Rocky Mountain Giant Vegetable Growers newsletter. Grace has even contacted local celebrities to ask them to get involved. Singer Tiki Taane and comedian Te Radar have both offered to join in the craze since she wrote to them.

When she’s not tending to her patch, Grace writes a column for the US Rocky Mountain Giant Vegetable Growers newsletter.

Gareth says he’s impressed by Grace’s management skills. “She hand writes every letter and when she seeks sponsorship, she makes the calls herself. That’s pretty amazing.” Grace also grows giant beetroot, carrots and sunflowers and wants to be a gardener when she grows up.

The biggest thrill she gets from growing pumpkins is the fact that they can be eaten too. “My favourite dish is called spaghetti squash. You eat the pumpkin just like pasta – it’s really yummy!”

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