Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall joined hundreds of children and many supporters from the world of food and farming to celebrate the harvest at the National Harvest Service at Birmingham Cathedral yesterday.
Over 350 children and teachers from 20 schools attended the service, having applied for a place in the summer term. Each group has since spent time planting seeds and the fruits of their labours were on display in the Cathedral.
The National Harvest Service is part of the Bring Home the Harvest campaign, run by Love British Food, the organisers of British Food Fortnight. The aim of British Food Fortnight is to bring together communities from across the UK and rekindle the tradition of celebrating the Harvest.
Alexia Robinson, Founder of British Food Fortnight and organiser of the National Harvest Service, said: “We hope that yesterday’s service in Birmingham Cathedral, together with all the other activities that have been organised as part of British Food Fortnight this year, will encourage other communities to come together to celebrate the harvest. The children’s pride in presenting their harvest boxes shows that, even in this hectic digitalised age, there is still a place for celebrating the delight of growing and harvesting food. ”
I couldn’t agree more, especially when a 2013 survey revealed that many British children have absolutely no idea where their food comes from. One in ten of the 5 to 16 year old pupils surveyed last year believed that tomatoes grew under the ground. A third of the 5 to 8 year olds surveyed were confused about where pasta and bread came from. With the help of initiatives like British Food Fortnight and the National Harvest Service these alarming statistics will become a thing of the past. It’s so important for children to understand where the food they eat comes from and how to grow it as well as how important it is to make healthy choices.
The children and other guests were greeted by a small slice of farm life, as sheep and goats from Hatton Adventure World were in the Cathedral grounds as they arrived. At the beginning of the service, the Harvest Torch was processed and placed on the altar. Made by Master Blacksmith Andrew Hall, the Torch is a specially commissioned sculpture that depicts nature’s bounty and will be kept at Birmingham Cathedral for a year until it moves to the next city that hosts the National Harvest Service.
Following the service, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall viewed the children’s harvest boxes in the South Aisle of the Cathedral and spoke to them about the produce they had grown and made.
The Harvest Boxes were then loaded on to a 100 year old horse drawn trolley, owned by local farmer Kevin Morris, and taken to the Birmingham Central Food Bank. The contents of the boxes, along with other produce donated by Tesco, who sponsor both Bringing Home the Harvest and The National Harvest Service, will be distributed to people in crisis in the city.
When my son was in primary school, the Harvest Service was a key focus of the year and everyone looked forward to helping to distribute the Harvest Boxes to those in need in the local village. It’s lovely to see initiatives like British Food Fortnight and The National Harvest Service reinvigorating both harvest celebrations and the community spirit behind them.