Children love helping especially when it comes to food. If you listen to Raising Playful Tots show #35 Memetales, I share some recent experiences of fruit picking with the kids.
At this time of year there are a lot of fruit and vegetables in season. Traditionally, it’s the time to celebrate the Harvest.
Having lived and grown up in a farming area, this time of year is a busy one. The combine harvesters are out ploughing the oilseed rape, the onion, the sugar beet, the little midges, the manure fertilizer. But my biggest memories around school is the Harvest festival. Each child brought in some can gifts. They were all set out like a large supermarket during assembly. I loved to see all the different types of food, ones I didn’t usually see or ones I had never known. Someone would always bring in the bread made into a plait and one in a sheaf. It was amazing to me that bread could come like that.
If you were in the top classes, or the oldest children in the school you got to gather with the help of a senior teacher the cans and produce into baskets and boxes. There were always bunches of carrots with the stock, fresh garden produce from many gardens. It was a physical reminder of how blessed we were. I think as kids seeing so much food and knowing we all had a hand in it really made giving tangible to us.
Those baskets were taken to select people in need. Thinking about it, they had to be people who would accept enthusiastic 4-5 year olds bounding in their space. As no matter how we were told or knew how to behave seeing my 4-year-old I can imagine how much we took up their space! The mere act of going to another person’s house or group home when you’re so young was too exciting. We’d then get thank you cards, usually handwritten that our teachers would read out and we’d feel warm inside about helping.
I still remember harvest festival time and the hymns we’d sing of thankfulness for the bountiful harvest.
I guess the feeling was gratitude.
When you work on the land or work for your food you feel a little different about it.
Whether it’s starting a vegetable garden or picking your own fruits this is the perfect time of year to plan to include the children. It’s an easy time to express gratitude for what the earth has given us.
The boys had an opportunity to shell peas. Something I had done on occasion when I was younger. I remember siting with my mother, talking and shelling. We had good conversation. When Grandma came in with fresh peas from the market they were really hesitant to join in. They didn’t know about peas, distrusted the process and frankly were more interested in their Lego creations at the time. But Grandma stayed and shelled peas. They wandered over and asked what she was doing and kept coming back with more questions. Soon they were sitting down and trying it themselves. Guess what they ate for dinner that night?
I was able to thank them, oh and Grandma, for the lovely peas. When that rogue pea fell of their plate, as they do, they scooped that little one back on. They didn’t want to lose it. This is in stark contrast with other mealtimes where food is left, abandoned or dropped without a moments thought.
They were grateful, perhaps. Curious? Their fingers ‘hurt’ from stripping and popping peas. In other words, manual work was hard.