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Harvest...

Squash harvest

Virtually every society since the dawn of time has found one way or another to celebrate good harvests. But now we have "fresh" food in the supermarkets all year round, and most of us live far from the ebbs and flows of the natural world, Harvest Festival has dwindled down to a 5-minute exercise of children handing over tins and packets in many churches - it's just not seen as relevant any more.

Bit of a shame, really - food is still quite important to most people, and we could all do with being reminded that it didn't actually grow on Sainsbury's shelves. As I'm mean enough not to celebrate Hallowe'en, I make a point of having a "Harvest Supper" sometime in autumn, with pumpkin soup & pie (best made a few days before, as the flavour needs time to develop), corn-on-the-cob, sausages & baked potatoes and a Jack O'Lantern.

  •    Pumpkins and squashes bought in the supermarkets are luxury foods, but delicious squashes were only 40p per kilo at our local farmers' market last week. There's good eating and lots of it in a nice solid squash! They keep for ages and come in a variety of yellows, greens and oranges which will brighten up your kitchen during the winter months.
  •   Corn-on-the-cob comes wrapped in delicate green husks, which dry into something like white raffia, if you can strip them off reasonably intact. Then soak them again and twist & tie them into the desired shape; I make them into huge star-shaped "flowers". Dry them again & you have dramatic decorations, which you could spray silver or gold if you were feeling Christmassy. The early American settlers used to make little dolls with these dried husks; they must be tough as some are still in existence in museums today. Alternatively, if they have been grown without pesticides, rabbits and guinea pigs love to eat the dried husks - make sure there is no mould.
  •   Children love to collect & make things with autumn bounty; there's nothing to beat the taste of blackberries fresh from the bush, but make sure you are all wearing stout but washable clothes - denim's ideal! Mine loved making collages of leaves (or seaweed), little "scenarios" with beechnuts and acorns, or Christmas decorations with fir cones and teazels...
  • I always end up decorating my kitchen with autumn leaves and harvest produce; after all the leaves are free and you can eat the rest! Like cut flowers, leaves and seedheads such as teazels are temporary and will end up in the compost heap or sown around the garden rather than sit around forever waiting to be dusted. My neighbour has a huge Virginia Creeper with wonderful autumn leaves that just litter the pavement if we don't use them, and what else can you do with pampas grass flowers?...

 

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Resources...

   Harvest Bread - make your own celebration loaves & rolls...

   "Fall & Thanksgiving Crafts by Nettie" - lovely original ideas, fun cursor!...

   "Hallowe'en - Alternative Ideas" - ideas for those not to keen on Hallowe'en...

   "Celebrating the Fall Harvest" - ideas for children's parties - other seasons covered too...

   "DLTK's Crafts For Kids" - autumn themed collection, achievable ideas...

 

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Rowanberries

Rowanberries just waiting
to be made into wine...

Squashes

Squashes queueing up for
the cookpot...

Crabapples

Those crab apples look
good enough to eat...

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Copyright: Angela Corbet, 2001.