It was our Harvest Festival at school this morning. Of all the celebrations in school, this is definitely and by far my most favourite of all. Our primary school has the most amazing grounds and even its own farm along with chickens and bees. The farm originally started as little more than a poly tunnel funded by a lottery grant (way back when my teenagers went there!) With the lottery money long since gone, the school have worked incredibly hard to keep going and to make it bigger and better with each and every season. All of the children from nursery right through to Year 6 work on the farm throughout the year and obviously the hands on skills they are learning are invaluable but it also gives them such a great appreciation of nature. The children get to bring fruit and vegetables home throughout the year plus the school rent out allotment plots to our village. I digress but basically Harvest Festival is quite rightly a huge celebration for our school and it is always such a pleasure to go along and be a part of it.
This is one of the rare times when the whole school come together for a full assembly when parents can come along too. It is always a very loud affair, microphone malfunctions aside, the children always get terribly excited. Who knew that runner beans could be quite so much fun? We have a new teacher who can actually play the guitar so the headmaster didn’t get to play air guitar with a marrow this year but we did have a rather cheeky talking pumpkin to make up for it though. And a very raucous rendition of The Harvest Samba. Maybe you had to be there. There’s something so precious about being able to squish into the back of a packed school hall to share these times though. And there is also something about those little sing songy voices that never fails to make me teary *sniff*
I’m not a religious person but I do happily celebrate all sorts of occasions partly because they are just so entrenched within our culture and indeed in my own upbringing. It has to be said that I am happy to join in with some aspects of religion for the feasting alone. In fact in the case of Easter I’m not going to lie – it is all about the food. But you see, Harvest Festival is the one time when I am not a complete fraud. I might not choose to thank God for the harvest before us but nature I can. Nature I can believe in. Nature I can celebrate and give thanks to. Celebrating all that nature has given us then seeing that shared with the less fortunate within our community, that I can get on board with. And what an important lesson to teach our children.
As well as donations of dried produce and tinned food brought in from home (and yes, there is always one tin of peaches lurking at the back) this years bountiful harvest from the school farm is also being shared between a homeless shelter in Leeds and a local food bank. What sad times we live in hey that a city as rich as Leeds has people living on the breadline? Sigh. But how nice that we can do our bit knowing that these much needed donations will hopefully make a real difference. Not only that, we get to teach our children about nature from seed to harvest but most important of all about being a good citizen.
Happy harvest time!