Harvest Time on the Farm

Our summer series at Fishkill Farms drew to a close today with a very special harvest program. Walker was on hand once again, much to the kids’ delight, and we spent a good part of the morning romping through the muddy rows of the vegetable garden helping with the early part of the harvest.

In days of old, the late summer harvest began at the beginning of August with the festival of Lammas or Lughnasadh (in honor of the Celtic craftsman god Lugh). The belief was that if a farmer harvested his grain before Lammas it meant that the previous season’s grain had run out too early which didn’t look good to the rest of the farming community. When the first grain was finally cut, it was celebrated with the baking and sharing of the season’s first loaves. Other early crops were harvested as well and celebrations revolved around summer’s first bounty.

In keeping with this tradition, the kids’ morning on the farm began with kneading the dough to make the bread that we would share at the end of our farm work that day.. Intrigued, the kids sat around the picnic tables and were each handed a lump of sticky dough that had already been through it’s first rise. Accompanied by rounds of Oats and Beans and Barley Grow (the peas lyric was rejected for whatever reason, by my daughter) they sprinkled the table in front of them with flour and kneaded their dough to smooth, elastic perfection.
All the buns had been put on the baking sheets and the tables cleaned and cleared as Walker arrived to take them to the garden. By now, most of the kids knew Walker’s friendly face and he was calling many of them by name (which is something that, as a teacher, I took note of right away–he’s really got a knack with kids). We learned about which plants could be harvested on rainy days so as not to encourage diseases to spread more readily through the plants–something I didn’t know about. Mental note, don’t pick tomatoes or beans when it’s raining. Thankfully the rain that had been steady only a few minutes earlier took a break just as we headed down the lane to the vegetables, Walker leading the way, the pied piper armed with bushel baskets.

Our first stop was the carrot patch where the kids watched while Walker loosened the earth with his pitchfork to make the pulling a bit easier for small hands. They set right to work digging away in the rich loam of the patch, searching for carrots among the clumps and exclaiming with joy and surprise as the long, orange vegetables were lifted from the dirt.

When the basket was full, Walker took us over to a bed of potatoes–blue potatoes! The kids hunkered down searching for the camouflaged tubers. Because this patch had likely been harvested that morning before some of the growers headed to the farmers’ market, it wasn’t as plentiful as was the carrot patch. The kids were still able to harvest a basket load before heading to the orchard to pick some of the farm’s enormous, ripe, white peaches.
Our muddy crew headed back up to the picnic tables for some hand washing, bidding Walker farewell with gratitude before beginning work on our harvest wreaths.
When they were finished crafting we set the table with lemonade and honey and just-washed carrots and brought out their freshly baked bread.

An early harvest feast indeed.

Speak Your Mind