When Milan Lukes was 11, he became fascinated with giant pumpkins and started on his own journey to a Manitoba championship.

He says the secret to growing the oversized pumpkins begins with the seeds; the larger the seed, which can be an inch long and half as wide, the bigger the pumpkin. But that is just the beginning. Gallons and gallons of water, mountains of cow manure and constant attention are all contributing factors when it comes to success.

Milan is one in a set of triplets, but his two brothers did not catch the growing bug, so Milan banned them from the back yard where his prize beauties were growing.  He tells the story of how the boys sneaked in one night and stole a leaf from his burgeoning beauty in revenge for some spat they were having. Milan was traumatized and still believes that that missing leaf caused him to lose the championship that year by just a few measly pounds.

Does that sound absurd? It won’t when you hear the painstaking detail that championship growers must pay to their orange pets.

Now in his second year of university, Milan pays as much meticulous detail to his studies in the fields of growing as he did in applying himself to the actual physical task. His interests include genomics and soil sciences. Is it tough to do university from home? You bet it is. His mother says he rolls out of bed and on to his computer beside it in his bedroom, cum office. He unrolls a napkin to reveal cucumber seedlings, well sprouted for a lab he had to do – nothing novel for Milan, the giant pumpkin grower.

Is he still growing? Not right now, but what he learned from his hobby is setting this brilliant young man up for leadership career on whatever path he eventually follows.