The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

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October 1, 2012

Martha Stewart Living features area pumpkins

HUNTSVILLE — Ilyana Mansfield has brought loads of attention to the pumpkin growing community. Her pumpkins were recently featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine for its special Halloween edition.

Mansfield, an Illinois native, said that after moving to Texas, pumpkin growing was a little more difficult in such extreme weather. Clearly, the hard work has paid off.

Martha Stewart Living magazine wanted to do a spread on pumpkins, but could not find any ripe ones so early in the growing season.

“Originally they were going to try to get some from South America, because they could not find any in the U.S.” Mansfield said. “After seeing an ad for someone needing pumpkins for the magazine, I called them and that same day they asked if they could have the pumpkins shipped to them to start taking photos of them for the spread.” 

Mansfield and her parents had the pumpkins shipped out that day to the magazine.

She was also asked to conduct a radio interview for the new Martha Stewart radio channel which does shows about the process of making the magazine.

“It was neat,” she said. “I’m so glad I could help them out, and I’ve always liked their Halloween issues, so I’m really glad I could help them out with this one.”

In thanks, the magazine sent Mansfield a care package filled with fake skulls, Halloween merchandise, craft items and costume pieces.

Mansfield’s eight-acre garden is located off Highway 19 and she spends much of her time tending to the pumpkins and ensuring that they grow to their full potential.

The pumpkins are grown completely organically to ensure they are healthy and safe to eat. On many occasions, Mansfield said she has gone outside to kill insects herself to keep the pumpkins healthy.

“I didn’t want to spray the pumpkins with any kind of poison, so I only sprayed them with soap and pepper.” Mansfield says. “What really helped was the toads, tarantulas and even some snakes. They will eat the bugs, but not the pumpkins.”

Mansfield has spent years cross breeding different varieties of pumpkins for ones that will do well in the Texas heat, are good for carving and have a great taste.

“I have been growing all different kinds for a long time and trying to find the kind that do well in droughts.” Mansfield says. “When I do find the right kind, I try to grow them and even give away the seeds to other growers so they can grow pumpkins.”

Collecting record-setting pumpkin seeds is a hobby for Mansfield, who hopes to one day break a record herself.

Other fruit and vegetable growers from around the world have sent Mansfield the seeds from 50-pound cantaloupes and 200-pound watermelons to try to grow for next year.

Mansfield will be giving away seeds from her pumpkins that do well after the season. For more information, contact her at or look for her upcoming blog at

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