“Feast and Make Merry” The Traditional Harvest Supper

At this time of year, farms and villages throughout Britain are celebrating the Harvest “safely gathered in”. Traditionally, this was an opportunity for farmers, farm labourers and their families to get together at the end of the harvest, loading the tables with abundant produce, washing it down with home made beer and cider and making merry with music and dancing. You probably recognise such scenes from Thomas Hardy novels.

Here in Herefordshire the tradition continues in villages around the county, often associated with a Church harvest service. But, it is not so often that town and city dwellers get the opportunity to join in such a farm celebration.

This year, Ledbury Food Group has the chance to share the Harvest Supper with the Bentley family, their workers and supporters at Castle Fruit Farm on Saturday 20 October. Many of their workers will shortly head home to Bulgaria and Poland to start their winter work. The celebration is an opportunity to meet them, say thank you for their hard work and to sample some of their own traditional harvest foods. It’s also a chance to see Ledbury Food Group’s photographs taken through a year in the life of the farm, and hear Chrissy Bentley talk about her year.

The tradition is for merry-makers to bring an offering of food, a share of your own or local harvest produce. A long table is laid with an abundance of cottage pies,, roast vegetables, sausages and cold meats, cheese to eat with apples or pears, fruit crumbles and tarts. These days people bring their own favourite drinks, home made or not. Amidst lots of banter and laughter the celebration rolls on, perhaps followed by a Ceilidh (folk dancing) or some sort of musical offering. At the Bentleys we will be entertained by musicians who are joining the feast and there may be dancing! Certainly it will be an abundant, joyful celebration.

If you would like to come along and join us for this one-off, special celebration do contact me before 13th October – fran@ledburyfoodgroup.org.

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