FORT KENT, Maine — Pumpkins are exponential. Just ask Cindy Roy.
Acting on some well-intentioned but erroneous advice, the Fort Kent mother planted 117 pumpkin plants as part of her son’s Boy Scout troop’s summer garden project.
“We’d thought we’d get 117 pumpkins,” Roy said with a laugh. “We even doubled up on the seeds in case some didn’t take.”
In fact, each pumpkin plant has several of the golden orbs ripening in the ¾-acre garden.
“We’ll have plenty,” Roy said.
The project is a major fundraising endeavor for Troop 189, whose members want to collect enough money to send eight Scouts and three adults to the National Camporee next summer in Virginia.
In addition to the pumpkins, the garden is producing peas, cucumbers, string beans, zucchini, tomatoes, green peppers, watermelons and potatoes.
The Scouts are responsible for all aspects of the garden — located on a plot of the Roy farm in Fort Kent — from planting to weeding to harvesting to marketing.
But they are getting a bit of help.
On Friday evening, several parents were inside John and Cindy Roy’s large garage preparing the day’s harvest for the next day’s farmers market in Fort Kent.
“We were at the market last week and someone stopped to say how nice it was seeing the boys bringing back gardening,” Paula Bouchard said. “They are working for the funds and are learning the value of that work at the same time.”
Her husband and Scoutmaster, Eric Bouchard, agreed.
“People are tired of folks going door to door to raise money,” he said. “No one has ever done a garden as a fundraiser, so we thought we’d try it and the boys are learning what hard work is.”
The activity even caught the attention of Boy Scout officials at the state level, who not only congratulated members of Troop 189 at a recent meeting in central Maine, but also put in orders for some of the produce.
“For the boys who were part of this from the very beginning, it’s really nice to watch them take it from planting to harvesting,” Cindy Roy said.
Her 12-year-old son, Dustin, had plenty of experience already, having grown up on the family’s potato farm. Cindy Roy said this project will help him decide if farming is in his future.
“This has been a great experience,” Dustin said, taking a break from hauling peas into the garage from the garden. “When I get older, and if I think about going into farming, I’m going to know how much work it is.”
That work included hauling water by hand earlier this summer during a dry spell.
“It’s a unique fundraiser,” Matthew Rioux, 15, said. “It’s a lot different than selling popcorn, and it’s been a surprisingly good one.”
It’s also been a challenge, he added.
“You can’t delay anything because of weather,” Matthew said. “With a chicken barbecue or something you can have a rain date, but with the garden, when it’s time to pick you have to pick.”
His younger brother and fellow Scout Daniel, 10, said the hard work has been worth it.
“It’s been fun and we are learning how to take care of the garden,” Daniel said. “I think I’d like to be a farmer because I’d get to drive all the equipment.”
It’s been fun for the parents, too.
“It’s very social,” Grace Martin said as she separated pea pods from the vines. “And it’s been great watching the boys.”
It was the end of the peas and Cindy Roy calculated they had sold about 200 pounds in total. At Saturday’s market, fresh string beans, cucumbers and potatoes covered the table.
The group was set up by 6:45 a.m., and customers began stopping by almost immediately. Soon the Scouts were doing a brisk business.
“We also take direct orders,” Paula Bouchard said.
Also taking part in the project are troop members Chase Labbe, Adam Bouchard, Adam Puttkammer, Joshua Anderson and Daxton Lagasse.
Roy said the group would continue to sell vegetables at the farmers market and directly from the field through the end of fall — including plenty of pumpkins in time for Halloween.