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""The pumpkin is a well-known symbol of fall in New England.

Whether you love carving jack-o’-lanterns or baking delicious fall-themed desserts, pumpkins are a staple of the season.

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) share tips on 4 ways you can incorporate this versatile squash into your fall activities.

  1. Visit a Pumpkin Patch — If you want to go pumpkin picking in Massachusetts, you’re in luck — there are more than 200 farms across the state that grow pumpkins, including more than 60 that let you pick your own pumpkins. Many of these locations offer other fun fall activities too, such as apple picking, hayrides, and corn mazes. Pumpkins are generally in season from September through October, but that can vary depending on the weather. Call the farm you want to visit ahead of time to check the picking conditions.
  1. Buy Local Pumpkins — If you’re not interested in picking your own pumpkins, you can support local farmers by buying pumpkins at a farmers’ market or farm stand. If you’re choosing pumpkins to cook with, look for ones that are firm and heavy for their size.
  1. Cook Some Pumpkin Treats — Consider using pumpkins to spice up your fall meals. According to the USDA, pumpkins provide several key nutrients, including dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Store them properly by putting them in a cool, dark place for up to 2 months before you use them. Check out the USDA’s pumpkin recipes to learn how to make pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, and other delicious treats.
  1. Don’t Forget the Seeds — If you want to embrace healthy eating patterns this season, pumpkin seeds are a good source of polyunsaturated fats. The name might not sound appealing, but the health benefits of polyunsaturated fats include lower cholesterol and a reduced risk of heart disease. So as you’re prepping your pumpkin for carving or a seasonal treat, put the seeds aside as a snack.

How are you celebrating pumpkin season in Massachusetts? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting @MassGov.

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