Marrows and Crêpe Paper Boxes
Whatever happened to Harvest Festival?
How old were you when you last wrapped a cardboard box with brightly coloured crêpe paper, filled it to the brim with home grown vegetables, and then struggled to carry it up the aisle of the church to lay in front of the altar for Harvest Festival?
It seems that for many this annual community event has gone the way of wearing your Sunday best, Cubs and Brownies in ‘proper uniform’ and (thank heavens!) gaiter wearing vicars.
This does not mean that we have become a less generous people only that life has changed and become commoditised. The wartime generation that was able to make good use of every part of a marrow for Sunday Lunch no longer has the time or energy to stand at a Belfast sink for hours on end preparing food. There are grandchildren to enjoy and company to entertain, so ‘All good gifts around us’ have changed their shape. Over the decades I have seen the contents of harvest boxes change from fresh produce to tinned goods, and from dried food to toiletries and donations to charities which help feed the world.
This is not a bad thing, though I do miss crêpe paper and marrows. Our prosperity and the prospect of leisure time proves that God has blessed us, and our nation, and we are able to be generous to those who are less fortunate. We are one of only six countries in the world that meet the United Nations’ target of spending 0.7% of our GDP on development aid; our harvest is shared across the whole world. Something for which every single person living in the United Kingdom can be grateful.
Felixstowe is a ‘Harvest Town’. Day by day the great ships which turn into the Orwell estuary at Landguard Point carry the harvest of the world to our shores. And, though increased traffic can occasionally produce frayed tempers along the A14, the industry that comes with the Port brings prosperity to our town.
In our parish we are fortunate that, through the hard work of many faithful people week in and week out, we are able to provide a harvest for those who can’t make ends meet at the Pop-up Shop in St Edmund’s church every Tuesday morning.
There is still a place for fresh vegetables and tinned goods, dried food and toiletries, so please do bring them along to church at the 10am service on Sunday 24 September. After which we will be sharing a Harvest Lunch together.
However there are many other ways we can celebrate harvest that demonstrates our thankfulness day-by-day and not simply once a year.
- Decide to be more diligent in recycling waste at home. Half of the food we buy is thrown away uneaten and often unopened. The generation before us would be rightly shocked at our profligacy.
- When you see litter don’t just moan about it, pick it up and put it in a bin.
- Think before buying new goods (especially clothing). To be ‘in fashion’ is a luxury denied to the majority of the world and comes at a high price for the environment.
- Look at your use of Electricity and Gas. Almost all of us should have been asked to have ‘smart meters’ installed free of charge, this will save money as well as the environment.
- Ensure you no longer use old style lighting and choose LED’s instead – something our churches are in the business of doing – and if you can make use of solar panels please do.
Suffolk, and our Diocese with it, aims to be the country’s ‘greenest’ county not only in our fields but in our homes and work places as well. Our Diocese is sponsoring a motion at General Synod which would see the re-use of food waste rolled out across the nation and our county has nationally acclaimed experts like the bin doctor Karen Cannard who have shown how every home in Suffolk can turn the annual Harvest Festival into a daily feast.
What is there to prevent you from joining in?
Details about Karen Cannard’s ‘Rubbish Diet’ can be found here:
(This article was first published in the September 2017 edition of the parish magazine of the Parish of Felixstowe) © Andrew Dotchin 2017