300 pumpkins and no plan. How we handled #PumpkinPocalypse!

We’re a bit crazy about fall here at Hungry Harvest. So last Monday, when my teammate Kevin told me that a local farmer had perfectly beautiful pumpkins rejected for their small size, we jumped on the opportunity to snag ‘em!

The problem

Large items like pumpkins, pineapples and watermelons are tricky because we pack our produce up in boxes each week and they won’t fit. However, we felt confident that these pumpkins would be small enough to fit in the boxes and make their way happily to our heroes. 

Here's the thing - we couldn’t really tell that the pumpkins would be small enough in the photo from our farmer…

Maybe it was wishful thinking, maybe we were just excited about rescuing lots of pumpkins, or maybe all the apple cider hanging around the office got to us? We’re unsure, but next thing I knew I was sending our weekly impact item email with the subject line “Pumped for Pumpkins!” We were committed.

When our COO Mark came back from the warehouse on Thursday afternoon, just one day before weekend deliveries started, I knew we had a problem. The pumpkins arrived and they were enormous! Some of them were larger than basketballs.

The freak out

There was no way the pumpkins could fit in boxes. This called for a company meeting. We had logistics, operations and customer experience around the table in our greenhouse debating creative solutions to get 300 of these pumpkins to our customers. Ideas bounced around, but some of my personal favorites were:

  • Reimburse our customers and have a free pumpkin patch somewhere in Baltimore (very fun, creative, possible)

  • We fill up our own cars with pumpkins and separately deliver them all (kind of fun, not as possible)

  • We create a makeshift pumpkin patch on the loading dock and manually count which routes have which pumpkins and leave notes for drivers  (way less fun, most logical… winner!)

The solution

So, the next morning, Evan was highlighting 300 names on our drivers’ route sheets, with the quantity of pumpkins next to them. Drivers had to pack their cars extra tight and load up their front seats with only pumpkins. For most of our drivers, this was no problem! The pumpkins averaged out to about 2-3 per delivery route. The funniest part? Our North Columbia, Maryland route had 17 pumpkins!! This meant that our delivery hero Adrienne had to squeeze 17 pumpkins into his van. Guess North Columbia is really feeling fall this year.

So, that’s the story of our #PumpkinPocalypse and a little taste of a typical week here at Hungry Harvest HQ. Happy Fall!

Until the next freak out,

PS - we learned our lesson and this week we have baby pumpkins as our impact item. Really, they’re small :)