HARVEST FESTIVAL IN THE COUNTRYSIDE
Friday, September 9th, 2011
Harvest Festival – an ancient celebration exalting food grown on the land – is traditionally held on or near the Sunday of the Harvest Moon, the full moon which occurs closest to the autumn equinox (around September 23rd in England). It is one of the oldest known festivals, dating back to pre-Christian times, when the success of the crop governed the lives of the people. Central features include feasting, merriment, music, celebration, romance and freedom from the necessity to work.
In his book ‘Country,’ Jasper Conran said: “The urge to grow food is primal. Even people without access to land feel it, hence the continuing popularity of allotments, pick-your-own and crop-sharing schemes. City dwellers once saw a fruit-picking trip to the countryside as a way of combining cheap food with spiritual refreshment. Country folk with only enough land and time to grow a small proportion of their food still enjoy the pleasing sense of self-sufficiency it brings.”
Although an ancient celebration, Harvest Festival is still celebrated in the countryside today, and it has also been given somewhat of a ‘cool’ revamp in recent years. Ex-Blur musician - now cheese producer - Alex James is launching ‘Harvest at Jimmy’s’ for 2011, a four-day harvest festival celebrating “food and music for friends and families.” The event, which is running from 9-12 September this year, will feature music from The Kooks, alongside cookery lessons at the Daylesford Cookery School and masterclasses from well-known chefs, such as Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. Harvest at Jimmy’s will take place on Alex James’ farm in Kingham, Oxfordshire.
Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, British Food Fortnight takes place on September 17 to October 2 during Harvest Festival. The two-week event celebrates the diverse and delicious range of food that Britain produces; including promotions and tastings in-stores, all-British menus in pubs and restaurants, food and cookery lessons in schools and fabulous food festivals all over the country.
Not confined to just the countryside, London’s Southbank Centre will play host to Harvest Festival celebrations this year, from 23-25 September, with The Real Food Harvest Festival which is free to attend. The event aims to bring together around 120 producers, a line-up of top chefs, livestock, taste workshops and a variety of entertainment. Founder of Real Food Festivals Philip Lowery said: “Harvest Festivals are celebrated throughout the British countryside and we really want to bring that energy and celebration to the capital and continue our goal of reconnecting people back to where their food comes from.”