There may be no zero carbon footprint but we still have it as an environmental goal.

The next generation is working on how we attack carbon emissions – and, sometimes, it’s downright fun.

This narrative begins with a young Landon Hughes, about 4 years of age, when with his Mom, Cameron Hughes, he’d get upset at the litter he’d see and want to remove it, recycle it.

In those days, young Landon would refer to “litter” as “glitter” but the result was the same.  Away with the garbage.  Be it litter or glitter.

Landon is now an 8th grader, 14 years old, at the Hill School, and he favors math and science but also history.  Of course, he enjoys sports (football and baseball).

He has also been influenced by his teachers and, for our purpose, we focus on Susan McCaskey, one of Landon’s 6th grade teachers, who taught him about recycling.

It’s ironic that his Mom, Cameron Hughes, attended the Hill School, graduating in ’03.  Tal Mack taught Cameron and Tal is the one who started the recycling program at the Hill School.

So what does this have to do with pigs?

My wife, Holly Smith Flannery, has a pig sanctuary and rescue. “Holly’s Happy Hogs,” and, our pigs are pets; they are not going to market, and no pig is going to be crying “all the way home.”

Landon took it on himself to collect pumpkins to feed pigs.  Holly’s Happy Hogs was one of the beneficiaries of his enviro-thusiasm.

Landon confirmed that pumpkins can be harmful to a landfill, but are good for a compost pile.

Landon, however, never gave compost a second thought.

It was always about the pigs and recycling.

Pumpkins are good for pigs to eat.

They are high in antioxidants, have low calories, and have many vitamins and nutrients (Vitamins A, C, B2, B6, E, Iron, Thiamin, Niacin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Phosphorus, Fiber, Carbs, Riboflavin, Protein, and Potassium) that help pigs with their digestive system and skin.  

Landon was all in to help the pigs.

Landon appreciated the season for pumpkins was mid September through November.

Many families that throw out their jack-o-lanterns, therefore don’t recycle.

The pumpkins end up in the landfill – and not recycled.

The US Department of Energy reports that most of the 1.3 Billion pounds of pumpkins produced in the United States end up in a landfill.

Once there, they decompose and release methane gas, a harmful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, with more than 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide – CO2.

Pumpkins are 90% water and add tons of water to the landfills, contributing to the problem of ground water contamination.

Many farmers are no longer animal farmers for lots of reasons but also because animal farming provides just 18% of the calories while taking up 83% of our farmland.

In addition, it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants.

Landon set out to collect as many pumpkins as he could to “feed the pigs.”

He figured some pigs will get a great treat and the environment will get a break.

How to go about this.

Mom Cameron and son Landon resorted to Mom’s social media contacts and the pumpkins started filling up in the front yard.  They had cars backed up outside their home leaving off pumpkins, totaling 900 pumpkins this year.  Hundreds contributed.  This was not their first year. They had 600 pumpkins last year and 50 to 100 pumpkins the year before.


Pumpkins collected by Cameron and Landon Huges in their front yard

photo by Cameron Hughes

Days ago, 800 pumpkins arrived to feed Holly’s Happy Hogs in Lovettsville.  

The caravan transporting the pumpkins consisted of 3 trucks, 2 minivans, and 1 Mazda.  There was a team of 10 adults and 6 youngsters including Landon to transfer the pumpkins from the vehicles to the ground, and then to the pigs.

Three herds of pigs, 24 pigs in all, can devour 50 pumpkins a day and they got right to it.  

Landon was busy hurling pumpkins hard at the ground to break open the pumpkins, to save the pigs the trouble, to make it easier for them to get at the pumpkin meat.


Landon hurling a pumpkin to the pigs 

Photo by J. Flannery

Asked what he thought of all this, Landon said, “It’s a community coming together, working for a singular cause.  I enjoyed watching everyone’s face seeing the big pumpkin pile around the Magnolia tree, and watching the kids help, and then feeding the pigs.

Mom Cameron said, “I’m proud that Landon wants to help the Environment.”

The next generation is shaping up well when you see this kind of voluntary effort to feed the pigs and conserve the environment.

Finally, remember, next year, save your pumpkins for the pigs!

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