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The 'great pumpkin' comes to Canaseraga Farm

Making a short trip from Fayetteville to Chittenango, "the great pumpkin" arrived safely a few minutes past 1 p.m. Monday Oct. 5 to Canaseraga Farm on Route 5, Chittenango. Walter Merriam of Fayetteville, the proud grower of the 986.5-pound pumpkin made his third annual trip to the family's dairy farm in the spirit of the autumn pumpkin harvest.

"Everyone comes to see the pumpkin," Michele Henry said. "It's like Charlie Brown's great pumpkin, but it's the great pumpkin at Henry's Farm."

Michele's husband Peter and their son Griffin Henry assisted in the giant pumpkin's removal from Merriam's trailer. With the use of a small forklift, Griffin took direction from his father and Merriam to get a good hold on the wooden pallet that the pumpkin was set upon.

Merriam has been tending a pumpkin patch for about six years on his 12 acres of land in Fayetteville. The "giant pumpkin" that he brought to the farm today is grown with "special seeds and special care."

"It's like a baby," Merriam said. "You have to keep an eye on it."

Merriam said the pumpkin is first tended with a removable greenhouse around it when it is first planted in early May. During July or August, the covering is removed so that it can expand. At this time of year, Merriam said the pumpkin can grow up to 30 pounds a day.

It's important to keep the weeds down and trim other pumpkin buds off so that the giant pumpkin can thrive first and foremost, said Merriam.

When the covering is removed, Merriam said he keeps a fence around the giant pumpkin to keep deer and woodchucks away.

Merriam, a pediatric ophthalmologist, was giving eye exams to the Henrys' children when they came up with the idea to bring the giant pumpkin to Chittenango.

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