The Harvest moon is full in the sky about this time and it’s the perfect time for thinking of the harvest and food. The Harvest moon is so called because it’s the time when farmers would typically be harvesting their crops and the moon was bright making it easy for them to do this into the late hours of the day and night.
Although my mum’s family back in Poland own a farm and used to do the traditional yearly harvest by hand (yes with scythes until technology became a thing and machines got involved), for me, growing up in suburban Britain, what I remember most about this time is simply the harvest time school assembly and what we did to make things better for our community.
Bringing in the food
At my primary school, and probably most others, it was a tradition to have a harvest assembly and to be told that the school would be collecting food for the local community. I remember everyone was asked to do this, and everyone brought in one item of tinned or dried food that would be added to a table in the assembly room. Eventually we would have our harvest assembly and the food would all be displayed for us to see (and for me to secretly want to eat it after seeing it!😛).
Family finances didn’t seem so stretched for most families in my class back them and everyone in my class could afford to bring in something, no matter how small, in those days (the 1990s). I don’t think that locally poverty was as bad or widespread as it has been since the recession, and I remember a particular year that I loved when I had brought in a unique pumpkin soup which my mum had ony just bought the day before the assembly (forgetting I needed to take something into school and giving up the soup from the shopping she’d bought). I later saw it proudly displayed near the front of the spread of tins and boxes after handing it in to my teacher at the start of the day.
I don’t remember much about the assembly at school, but every year we would be reminded of the importance of the harvest, and how important it was to think of others when it came to food. We would be encouraged to remember that not everybody had access food, or enough food, and that many people throughout the world at harvest time would actually be going hungry.
We were all encouraged to think of our consumption and to be compassionate and think of others. And the assembly always worked on me, making me feel lucky to have access to food and to be able to largely eat anything that I wanted.
A special opportunity
Every year of primary school, starting in the junior year (Year 3) about four children from each classroom (we only had two classrooms per year) were allowed to go on a special delivery for harvest time. I remember being so eager to be picked each year and would throw up my hand and wave it, eager for the teachers to pick me to do the special community delivery around the town. However every year I couldn’t hide my disappointment when I wasn’t picked. Only four kids in a class of about 35 (our class was big!) could be picked each year and as we entered the final harvest time in year 6 I knew that the odds were still against me that I’d be picked to go, especially as some of the kids had gone more than once, in more than one year. 😮
But throw up my hand I did and wave it as manically as I had the first time we were asked in year 3 who would like to do the community drop, and of course I saw one girl get picked, then a boy and another boy. I still had my hand up and was staring hard at the teachers, desperately willing them to let me do it. I still didn’t really know what the opportunity to do this delivery involved. All I knew was that every year the four kids picked woud disappear for about half an hour and then reappear smiling. I wanted to know what had made them smile and where they had gone and I just knew I wanted to do it and was desperate to be given the chance!
Of course, I was delighted when I was finally picked as the last person of the four in the class to go on the harvest delivery! I was so surprised about being picked that I had to actually wait for the teacher to say my name twice before believing my luck. I got up immediately and rushed to the door where the others were waiting and then off we went for the community delivery.
The first place we went to was the school assembly hall. This was based in the centre of the school and inside the harvest table, once abudant with food, and my donation of pumpkin soup, was now empty with the various foods separated equally into cardboard boxes. We were split into groups and each asked to pick a box or two. There was one box I remember seeing with a rose sticking out of it, it wasn’t food but it caught my eye, and I picked that one even though I had no idea where my own pumpkin soup, that I had been keeping my eye on the whole of assembly, had gone!
The boxes were then taken by volunteers (not teachers) and put into the boots of cars. We were all then asked to get into the cars along with the voluteers we were assigned to (along with one teacher/school person per car too) and off we went. The car drove around the community to visit different elderly residents, with these food boxes dropped off for them so they could have a good harvest time and not worry about the difficulties of getting food and keeping well fed and warm in the ever cooling weather.
To be honest they didn’t pay much attention to us kids during these stops or drop offs. We spent our time just wandering from the car to someone’s front door, sometimes briefly getting the chance to go inside their house, before being ushered back to the car for the next stop. The deliveries took no more than half an hour and at the end of it we were back at the school. It had been a fun experience though, to find out finally what these community deliveries were, and for me personally I felt like I had done something very good and special. 🙂
Harvest traditions beyond…
Harvest traditions didn’t continue in my secondary school which felt disappointing after all the fuss that was made each year to help the local community in the primary school. My secondary school was weird, they raised money for charity periodically but usally the charities were not local (which was fine) but it felt like they were missing out on a good opportunity to do something special and meaningful, and memorable for those in need in the local area.
These days I like to drop off some food, if I can, to a local food bank to help those in need. It’s so sad that in these times today there are people in the UK who actually need to use food banks, considering that in the 90s I just don’t think it was as wide spread a problem as now. Poverty was indeed around but it just feels like it has gotten worse since the recession and never gotten better and so I like to give back when possible as I’ve lived a period of my life below the poverty line (yes, really!) and I know what it’s like to truly need something and feel ashamed to not be in the same place as others and be able to afford it.
Also at every harvest time I like to remember the traditions from school. Drawing harvest food and remembering how lucky we are with all the food we have is important. Even more so now that there are fears of food shortages here in the west. Empty shelves making a comeback in some supermarkets.
I hope you all have a lovely harvest time and enjoy the harvest full moon, and also the official changing of summer to autumn. Please always think of others and don’t be greedy when it comes to food, there’s enough of it (and toilet paper!🙄) for everyone as long as we all just take what we need and not hoard. There are many people worse off than ourselves and if you can, please try to give back to the community whenever you are able to. 🙂 Also if you are struggling this year don’t be afraid to ask for help either. Have a great day and week everyone! Happy harvest! ❤ 🙂 🥕🌽🍐
Do you celebrate harvest time or the harvest moon? What harvest traditions do you remember from your childhood? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂