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5th grader grows the ‘Great Pumpkin’

“Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He’s gotta pick this one. He’s got to. I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one,” said Linus in "It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."

Terri Fullerton
Terri Fullerton

One Oxford 4-H member made sure the Great Pumpkin picked her patch this year, but it took more than writing letters and sitting in the patch on Halloween night like Linus.

Karly Mitcham placed second in the Georgia 4-H Pumpkin Contest with a 182-pound Prizewinner pumpkin grown on her family’s farm.

If you’ve visited Colonel Cob’s Corn Maze at Mitcham Farms, you know the Mitchams grow a lot of pumpkins. But many are varieties that don’t grow quite so large as Mitcham’s Prizewinner. Yes, “Prizewinner” really is the name of the variety.

The farm began with Karly’s great-great-great-grandfather Henry James Boggus in 1884, and today is run by her grandfather Tommy Mitcham, father Kevin Mitcham, and uncle Keith Mitcham. It has been recognized by the State of Georgia as a Centennial Family Farm.

Karly Mitcham continued her family’s work in agriculture by joining 4-H to show a lamb in the first grade.

Today, she’s a member of Ms. Ivie’s fifth grade 4-H Club at East Newton Elementary and shows a beef heifer.

Her work on the pumpkin project began in early June, when she had to prepare the soil and create plastic-covered rows for the pumpkins.

By the end of July, the leaves on her vines were still larger that most of the pumpkins.

But by September, her largest pumpkin weighed in at a whopping 182 pounds.

County Extension Agent Ted Wynne had to help lift the pumpkin on feed sacks in order to weigh it with certified scales.

Wynne said that just planting the seeds is not enough to grow a giant pumpkin; it requires work on the soil, fertilization, weeding, pruning and watering.

Mitcham won $50 and a t-shirt for her entry, sponsored by donations from Charles Hall and the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.

Mitcham Farms is located at 797 Macedonia Church Road in Oxford, and if you visit you’ll have to ask about Karly’s Great Pumpkin. As of press time Karly had not sold the pumpkin, so there’s still a chance to catch sight of the Great Pumpkin just in time for Halloween.

The farm also donated pumpkins for use with the Newton County 4-H scarecrow displayed in front of the historic courthouse, along with other materials from Dixie Grain Farm in Covington.

If you haven’t stopped by to “Picture Yourself in 4-H” by putting your head atop the headless scarecrow, be sure to stop by any time through Halloween.

Each time you visit any of the Square merchants participating in the contest or the Visitor’s Center, you can vote for 73NB in the non-business category to help 4-H win $750 in the contest. According to the rules, you may vote as many times as you like.

The second scarecrow in the 4-H display wearing a suit is the very first winner of the Covington Corn Club, George Plunkett. Plunkett was from Oak Hill community and won the contest with his prize winning corn.

The modern 4-H’er is sporting a medal for Project SAFE (Shooting Awareness Fun and Education) as well as a prosthetic hand printed by local 4-H members in their Maker Space.

Shooting sports registration is now open with BB teams for 4th-8th grades and modified trap/shotgun for 7th-12th grades.

The 4-H Maker Space recently expanded thanks to donations from friends and family in memory of 4-H volunteer Vianne Peay to include two Lego EV3 robotics kits, which are being used by 4-H members to learn engineering, programming, and the engineering process.

Youths interested in entering next year’s watermelon or pumpkin growing contests, joining the shooting sports team, or learning about the 4-H Maker Space should contact the 4-H office at 770-784-2010.

Terri Fullerton is a County Extension Agent in 4-H Youth with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.