Charlie Lieber of Lexington, Massachusetts won the Maine Giant Pumpkin Growers Organization annual contest late last month. The prize is $1 per pound, so Lieber took home $1,362.

When he isn’t growing giant pumpkins, Lieber is a professor at Harvard University who studies nanotechnology, or teeny-tiny, itsy-bitsy things – the “opposite of giant pumpkins!” as he wrote in an email.

His venture into giant pumpkin growing was sparked some eight years ago by his father, who gave him a book on the subject. Since then he has twice taken prizes at contests in Rhode Island (1st place in 2010 with 1,610-pound pumpkin, 2nd place in 2012 with a 1,770-pound pumpkin). He grew Maine’s winning 2014 pumpkin in his small backyard in Lexington (from a Maine seed) and carted it to the contest in Springvale in a rented U-Haul.

“I garden simply to relax from the stress of work,” he said. “Almost all of the people involved in giant pumpkin-growing are really nice.”

– PEGGY GRODINSKY