Challis first-graders students didn’t to plant pumpkin seeds last spring at the Challis Community Garden because they were learning remotely, but they still got to pick pumpkins as second-graders.

“We wanted the kids to have a fun thing to do on Halloween,” said Helen Winegarner, who with her brother Jon and husband Steve Axon manage the garden.

Traditionally, first-grade students would get a pumpkin seed to plant at the community garden in the spring. Come harvest, Winegarner and her crew give the students the pumpkins they planted, a couple of fresh potatoes each and a free gardening lesson.

However, students weren’t allowed to gather last spring because of the coronavirus pandemic, so they missed the chance to plant seeds. In stepped the community gardeners. Winegarner said they didn’t know if the kids would be able to pick up the pumpkins, but she said they were happy to plant them.

Last year, students each received a small, manageable pumpkin they could carry from the garden back to the elementary school. This year, gardeners planted several varieties, a couple of which were big enough to give some of the braver students trouble.

“It’s so heavy!” student Lucas Barrientos said as he hefted a pumpkin a quarter of his size onto his shoulder before heading back to class. “But I got it!”