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2013 Hall of Fame

Phil and Jane Hunt, Larry and Gerry Checkon

Phil & Jane Hunt

We are from a small village in Central Ontario. We built our home in 1990 & started growing the store bought Dill’s Atlantic Giant pumpkin seeds in 1991. The 1st year we only got to 65#. Year after year we tried to grow a big one, but couldn.t break the 180# mark.

In 1997 we found & joined the OSLGPGA (Ottawa/St. Lawrence Giant Pumpkin Growers Association). Now we had seeds from a real giant & our excitement level started to peak. We rolled down the road with our 1st real pumpkin, heading to Port Elgin for our 1st ever weigh off. We weighed in at 550#, good enough for 28th place. We met & talked with other growers & got some good advice from them. Year after year we slowly increase our PB every year. It was at Port Elgin that we saw giant watermelons for the 1st time. We started growing them the next year & later broke the Canadian Record for watermelon in 2005 with 207.6#er.

When the OSLGPGA (Ottawa/St. Lawrence Giant Pumpkin Growers Association) folded, that left Ontario growers without a club for a few years. After the weigh offs in 2004 & throughout the winter Jane & I, along with a few other growers discussed forming a new club for Ontario growers.

In March 2005 a group of Ontario growers, (including Jane & I, along with a few other Ontario growers) met during the Niagara Convention. It was there that the new Ontario club, the GVGO (Giant Vegetable Growers of Ontario) was born. I was elected to head up this new club, along with the help of a couple growers that agreed to hold the position of regional reps.

Jane took on the role as Treasurer, as she is an accountant by trade. A role she still assumes to this day.

During my time as President & Jane as Treasurer, we took over publishing the Port Elgin Pumpkinfest newsletter & revamped it into a magazine style newsletter filled with growing information, interviews with Champion growers, weigh off info & results & any other important pumpkin related information.

The GVGO was the 1st club to send out their newsletters by email.

We were one of the 1st clubs to send out a membership seed pack, with over 30 packages of seeds from giant pumpkins & many other giant vegetable seeds, to all members.

We created the GVGO website to communicate with our members & help answer any questions they had.

Started the GVGO bulk purchasing product program, so our members could get great products at a fraction of the store costs.

Spoke to many groups & clubs about growing giant pumpkins

Organized the 1st GVGO meeting & Patch tour in 2006.

We have donated countless seeds to many clubs including the GPC and Orange Angel Foundation’s Coats for Kids program, as well as many other special organizations for their fundraisers, even when we had low seed counts.

Held a Haiti earthquake relief seed sale, raising $1000 for the Red Cross’s efforts in Haiti

Created the GVGO Master Grower Award for GVGO Members.  Growers receive a GVGO Master Grower jacket for growing 3 different varieties of giant vegetables to World class levels.

Personal Bests - 1678# Pumpkin, 1233# Squash, 222.4# Watermelon, 7.33# Tomato, 93# Cabbage, 175# Field Pumpkin, 123" Long Gourd, 96.5# Rutabaga

Accomplishments

  • Founding members of the GVGO
  • Phil served as the 1st GVGO President (2005-2009)
  • Jane has been the GVGO's Treasurer since the inception of the club
  • Phil continues to serve as a GVGO Rep
  • 1st growers to be awarded the GVGO's prestigious Master Growers Jacket
  • GVGO Growers of the year 2010 & 2013
  • Inducted to the GVGO Hall of Fame in 2010
  • Inducted into the GPC Hall of Fame in 2013
  • #2 World for Pumpkins in 2009 - 1678#, Canadian Record at the time
  • #2 World for Squash in 2013 - 1233#
  • #2 World for GPC Master Grower in 2010 & 2013
  • #1 World for Tomatoes in 2010 - 7.33#, Our 7.33# tomato still ranks as one of the largest tomato ever grown - All-time.
  • 1st place finish for pumpkins at Port Elgin in 2009 & 2013
  • 1st place Squash at Port Elgin in 2013.
  • 1st place finish pumpkins at Pembroke 2008 & 2010,
  • 1st place in Wellington in 2006
  • 1st place at Woodbridge in 2013

We also have many 1st place finishes in the other categories such as Watermelons, Tomatoes, Long Gourds, Cabbages, Field Pumpkins & Rutabagas (currently the Canadian Record at 96.5#)

 

 

Larry and Gerry Checkon

Gerry

Started growing in 1999 and have been the Secretary of the P.G.P.G.A. for nine years.

Growing Results ? Altoona Weigh Off

1999 ? World Record at 1131 lbs.

2003 ? Second Place with 1161 lbs.

2004 ? Fourth Place with 991

2006 ? First Place with 1125.5

2007 ? Fifth Place with 1090

2009 ? First Place with 1434

2010 - First Place with 1381

2011 - First Place with 1676

In addition to pumpkins, I have had at least 3 First Place finishes in Field Pumpkin.  I currently hold the PA record.

In 1999, we took the World Record Pumpkin to the David Letterman Show in New York City. The pumpkin traveled to schools and then to an Open House where it was carved by Scott Cully from Oregon.

From 2002 to 2007, we hosted the P.G.P.G.A. summer tour and picnic at our home and patch.

We organized and conducted several new growers seminars at our home. I conducted a seminar at the outdoor Learning Center for High School Students on the growing of Giant Pumpkins.

We obtained sponsorships for the P.G.P.G.A. from both Ironite and Fertrell.  Ironite also became a major sponsor for the GPC.

I have been a member of the weigh off committee since 1999, and have been responsible for registration, selling of hats and shirts, taking memberships, and record keeping for the last 10 years.

In the course of my tenure as Secretary of the P.G.P.G.A, I have produced several editions each year of The Patch, the P.G.P.G.A. newsletter.

In 2000, I was a guest speaker at the IGVG convention and sat on the Heavy Hitter panel. I was also a guest speaker at the Ohio Spring Seminar the same year. Larry and I have attended the IGVG convention from 2002 ? 2008.

We have both fielded hundreds of questions from growers over the years by way of telephone and email and have spent countless hours promoting the growing of giant pumpkins.

Larry

Current vice president and GPC representative for the PGPGA

Started growing in 1998 and assisted my dad for many years prior to that.

Growing results were all at Altoona:

1998 - 1st place, 815 lb.

1999    Grew 1190 dmg.

2000 - 2nd place with 875.4

2002 - 2nd place with 986

2003 - 1st place with 1242 State record

2004 - 1st place with 1354 State record

2005 - World record 1469

2007 - 2nd place with 1212 2008

2009 - 2nd place with 1208.5

2010 ? 2nd place with 1324

2011 ? 3rd place with 1226

In addition to pumpkins, I had numerous first place entries for tomato, watermelon and long

gourd over the years.

From 1998 to the present we have helped run the PGPGA.

From 2002 to 2007 we hosted the PGPGA tour and picnic at our residence and patch.

We organized and conducted several grower?s seminars at our patch over the years.

We obtained sponsorship for the PGPGA from both Ironite and Fertrell. Ironite also become a

major sponsor for the GPC.

I have been an essential part of the Altoona weigh-off since 1999 including logistics, set-up,

operation and record keeping

.

In 2000, Rocky Rockwell and I instituted the first online seed auction and have continued to

the present.

In 2006 we traveled to Oregon where I was guest speaker at the PGVG Spring Meeting and

Seminar, and to New Hampshire, where I was guest speaker at the NH Summer Picnic and Tour.

I also spoke at the Ohio Valley spring seminar that year and in 2000 with Gerry. I have served

on several Heavy Hitter panels at the IGVG convention and have attended every year from

2000 to 2008.

In 2007, I was a guest speaker for the Master Gardeners at the Penn State Cooperative of

Cambria County.

In 2005, we took the world record 1469 pumpkin to the Martha Stewart Show in New York.

After that the pumpkin was put on display for the town to see in front of the local Bi Lo grocery

store here in N. Cambria and carved by Scott Cully. The event was covered by a local TV station

and several newspapers, including the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In 2006, the National Geographic Channel filmed a segment at our patch which was aired on a

 ?Pumpkin and Halloween Special?. Our patch was also featured in numerous newspaper and

 magazine articles and an edition of ?The Backyard Gardener? series on WPSU (Penn State) TV.

Over the years we have sent out thousands of seeds and growing instructions that we wrote, to

growers all over the world and have helped many local growers including Ryan Bernecky who

grew a 1000 lb. pumpkin in 2005, his first year. We also donated many seeds to other clubs.

We have fielded hundreds of questions from growers over the years by way of telephone and

email and have spent countless hours promoting giant pumpkin growing.