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Pumpkins for piggies in a plug-in Ford Fusion Energi hybrid

“You have to get them right now. One has collapsed, others are leaking and mushy.”

Even though it was still dark, and I was trying to wake up, I knew what the text message meant.

Eighteen pumpkins, carved by employees at Nova Truck Centres the day before as part of a Halloween contest, needed to be picked up or they would be fast-tracked to the dumpster.

It didn’t take me long to get into the driveway and unplug the Ford Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid, the vehicle that started me down the post-Halloween pumpkin highway.

On the way to Dartmouth to pick up the orange booty, I thought about the electrics of electric mobility.

A pure electric vehicle (EV) runs on stored battery power only and when the charge is running low, you better have a plan to get it plugged in. If not, you’ll be tracking down a charging station or eventually calling a tow truck because once the battery depletes you go nowhere.

Hybrid gas/electric vehicles took off with the launch of the Toyota Prius in 1997 and now most manufacturers build them. Hybrid vehicles’ generating systems charge their on-board battery while coasting or braking then use the charge to electrically assist in propelling the vehicle.

Another popular option, the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) like the Fusion Energi, follows the lead of the Chevrolet Volt that hit the streets in 2010. A PHEV is virtually an electric car, but when the battery charge runs out, a gasoline engine kicks in and the vehicle becomes a hybrid until the next time it is plugged in and charged.

PHEVs may not satisfy the purist EV gang, but it is what I would go with and I jumped at the chance to drive a Ford Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid.

The Fusion Energi’s EV range is about 32 kilometres before morphing into a hybrid. It’s not a lot but enough to get many drivers to work, run errands and haul the kids around without using any gasoline.

Things have gotten much easier for the EV folks here in Nova Scotia thanks to Nova Scotia Power, who have rolled out a high-speed electric vehicle charging network. Now EV drivers can travel from one end of the province to the other without range anxiety, the dreaded fear of running out of charge and getting stranded.

Even though 80 per cent of vehicle charging occurs at home, with 14 new fast-charging stations between Yarmouth and North Sydney, operating electric vehicles in Nova Scotia is becoming more mainstream.

Although I didn’t have access to a pure EV, the Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid was a good reason to take a drive and check out one of new charging stations. Since the road trip was all about doing the right thing environmentally, I thought Lisa and I could make a difference in someone’s or something’s life. But who or what?

The answer came listening to a radio interview with Chelsea Sullivan of Sullivan’s Family Farm in Nuttby Mountain. As she talked about how much their pigs loved pumpkins, our plan was hatched to collect used Halloween icons and haul them Sullivan’s to feed the pigs.

Obviously, Nov. 1 is the best day of the year to score the dregs of Halloween pumpkins. But where would I get them? I couldn’t just roam the neighbourhood late Halloween night snatching pumpkins with scary faces off front doorsteps for pigs half way across the province.

I put up a Facebook notice and within hours had a list of stops in Halifax, Dartmouth, Truro and even Moncton.

The mother lode came late Halloween evening when I called friend Luke Thompson in Mineville to see if his family had some pumpkins I could commandeer.

“They had a pumpkin carving contest at work yesterday and there are 18 pumpkins ready to roll if you get to them before they throw them out,” Luke laughed.

The next morning the arrival of his text woke me and within an hour we had most of the booty checked for anything that might harm the pigs and loaded into the Fusion Energi. Then Lisa and I began the 140-kilometre drive to Sullivan’s Family Farm.

When the Fusion Energi’s battery ran out, I barely detected the gasoline engine taking over and although we didn’t have to, we stopped in Elmsdale and recharged at the NS Power charging station.

Later that afternoon, Chelsea Sullivan greeted us at Sullivan’s Family Farm. There were chickens, ducks, cows and, of course, pigs roaming the fields surrounding the farmhouse.

She directed us to the pig’s area where there seemed to be plenty of curiosity about the city folk who had arrived in the plug-in hybrid car with the trunk and back seat full of yummy pumpkins. Chelsea showed me how to break the pumpkins up and I tossed orange chunks into the pen drawing squeals of delight.

On the way back to Halifax, Lisa and I realized we probably wouldn’t be the only ones to haul Halloween pumpkins to Sullivan’s Family Farm.

But we were happy to have brought our recycling offer to the Sullivan pigs in a variant of an electrically-powered vehicle.


Follow Garry on Twitter: @DrivenMind99 and on Instagram: @garrysowerby

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