Cheetahs In My Shoes

living with the imaginary menagerie and all that it entails

Harvest Festival


Times have changed.

No longer the school harvest festival involves rows of children ‘singing’ “We plough the fields and scaaaaaaaatter, the good seed on the laaaaaand” or “Raiiise the glori’us ‘arvest ‘ome” with parents seeing the event as the perfect opportunity to palm off the overgrown marrow or glut of other home-grown vegetables to some unsuspecting person ‘in need’.

Tomorrow is the last day of ‘bring your harvest gifts into school’.  Marrows are not allowed.  This is the battle of the preserved goods.  Competition is intense.  There is skill involved.  New parents to the school are not yet indoctrinated in the ways of the shopping required for the best possible harvest contribution.

Why?  Well, because our harvest contributions are judged by quantity.  Not quality.  The prize (yes, prize, this year it’s a treasure chest full of chocolate coins) is awarded to the class who bring in the greatest number of products (or ‘projects’ as the Sealion Keeper* calls them).  There is a running total kept every day by the office staff and obviously the opportunities for numeracy lessons are plentiful.

But the pressure – oh the pressure!  To send in as many products as possible (obviously equal numbers for each child, you’ve got to be fair) without losing your store cupboard contents, a large chunk of the housekeeping money or the respect of your child is quite a challenge.  The children are coming home with a running total each afternoon – they know where their class is in the league table – this is, to put it quite frankly, war.

Which is why I spent last Wednesday afternoon trawling around Sainsburys trying to find the maximum number of products for the minimum spend – noting that the general assumption made by the merchandisers that those who are buying the ‘Basic’ ranges in the supermarkets are, well, short.  Or extremely flexible.

Didn’t do badly though – 12 items each per child (not that they could lift the bags), total spend for all 24, less than £7.75.

So, tomorrow, when “all is safely gathered in” we’ll get the final result.  We’ll see which teachers are quietly fist-pumping in their store cupboards and which children have chocolate coins melting gently in their sticky hands as they come out at the end of the day.  The battle will be over for another year and the parents have 12 months to hone their shopping skills further.

Oh, and our young homeless in St Albans will have enough food to see them safely into the winter storms and hopefully fill their tummies with some (relatively) nutritious, hot food and help them believe that there are people out there who do care.

Times may have changed but the underlying message is still there – making life better for those who need a bit of a hand, and if we can get our children round to that way of thinking, maybe the odd battle is a good idea.  What do you think??

* The Cheetah Keeper’s sister has decided her chosen career path is that of Sealion Keeper at Whipsnade Zoo and therefore wishes to be referred to as the Sealion Keeper on the blog from now on.  Who am I to argue?

Author: Jenny

Life, photos and recipes mixed with family life, additional medical needs and a whole load of imaginary friends

16 thoughts on “Harvest Festival

  1. I haven’t had any letters home about harvest festival yet. I’m not even sure our school does it any more!

  2. I did the Sainsbury’s budget shop with A & M. A was all for buying 50 packets of noodles (13p each) but I insisted that she had to find other things that would be more of a treat and make the recipients feel more loved!

  3. Having failed with the harvest shopping last week, I was one of those raiding the store cupboard on Friday morning, only to be told that I had another weekend and I had to go and buy more! I too found the Basics range and am adding to your mixture with instant mash and sweetcorn!

  4. That is modern day giving for you.

  5. Our school doesn’t really do harvest festival anymore (as it’s a non religious state school) and although the idea of collecting for the poor is good – don’t like that they made it a competition – after all some people at the school may not be able to afford to give and then their kids feel bad. Our school did do an assembly apparently which involved some sort of song and the reception kids did patterened wellies and they all did a sponsored welly walk for Farm Aid in Africa which was all OK except they gave us less than a weeks notice about the sponsored thing!

    • Ours is a very multi-cultural state school – 62% of the children have English as a 2nd (or 3rd, or 4th) language and that obviously comes with a huge mix of faiths. Giving to people who need it more than we do is in the underpinnings of pretty much every faith so harvest really is an occasion that covers ‘all bases’ (that’s a bad phrase but think you’ll get my drift). Most families bring in something, and those (us) canny shoppers tend to even things out in terms of quantity. Am so with you about the lack of notice for sponsored events – you need more than a week!

  6. I love the caring, thoughtful time of the Harvest Festival. What a great collection you put together x.

  7. Last month was the first time I contributed to the food bank and I pretty much raided our cupboards and we had so much to give. Itry not to be wasteful now too. Excellent causes

  8. Honest opinion? Really? I don’t think harvest festival and giving should be turned into a competition. There. I said it. It’s wonderful to give to those in need but it shouldn’t be about how much you give or what you give, it should be the thought of actually giving. I think children are being given the wrong message about harvest festivals – whether that’s stuffy, old fuddy-duddy rubbish or whatever, it’s my opinion.

    And you did ask 😉

    CJ x

    • I did ask 🙂 Our harvest festival was about food miles in the end and I completely agree it shouldn’t be turned into a competition. They did mention the charity that the food will be going to but I suspect felt that the actual history of those who use the service was not appropriate for primary school pupils. Generosity is a silent gift in many ways – I would much prefer than message

  9. i’m looking forward to ronnie first harvest festival, however i now feel a little sad to think it might be a competition. i do hope not. x great shopping by the way x

    • Well over 1000 items will be off to the charity but it is sad it’s a competition, let alone one ‘fought’ with such relish. I hope Ronnie loves his first harvest festival – and now you know how to do ‘the shop’ x

  10. I would’ve bought 50 packs of strawberry dessert – aren’t they about 6p each? that’s bound to put you in the lead!

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