from farmer and JLS popstar JB Gill

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Image courtesy of Pixabay

The harvest festival is a longstanding tradition in the UK – but how much do you know about why we celebrate the harvest? JB Gill – who is both a farmer and one quarter of pop sensation JLS – tells us seven things we need to know about harvest festivals.

1. The tradition of the harvest festival goes back thousands of years.

For as long as humans have been growing crops, there has been an annual harvest. Traditionally, harvest festivals marked the end of a successful harvest, when communities had successfully gathered enough crops from the fields to last them over the winter.

2. Harvest Festivals aren’t just celebrated in the UK.

The first ever Thanksgiving in the USA was a harvest festival, and there are equivalent celebrations all over the world.

3. Nowadays, harvest festivals are about celebrating and learning more about the food we eat.

Harvest festivals provide the chance to celebrate and learn about our food – and to champion the farmers working so hard to produce it. As a farmer myself, I know all too well how much work goes into growing and producing food.

4. It’s traditional to make donations at harvest time.

As well as celebrating at harvest time, it’s important to remember that not everyone has equal access to food. Many people choose to celebrate harvest by donating food to their local food banks, and schools and faith groups often organise food collections.

5. Harvests worldwide are suffering from a lack of biodiversity.

Before I joined the farming community, I had no idea just how important biodiversity is for farmers. Farmers rely heavily on insects like bees and butterflies to pollinate their crops, but these species are becoming increasingly challenged due to habitat loss. Some projects like the Jordans Farm Partnership focus on boosting biodiversity to counteract this. Farmers in this scheme work with the Wildlife Trusts, LEAF and The Prince’s Countryside Fund, to leave at least 10% of their land for wildlife, which helps threatened species survive and provides year-round habitats for creatures to thrive.

6. Many kids don’t see the connections between food, farming and nature.

I feel really lucky to be bringing my kids up on a farm. It means that from a young age they’ll have an understanding about the connection between farming and the food they eat. Not all kids have that. In fact, a recent survey by Jordans Cereals revealed that over a fifth of children aged 6-11 don’t know what a harvest is. What’s more, 1 in 10 believe carrots originate in a supermarket, and just 7% aspire to be a farmer when they grow up, while a fifth want to be celebrities. As a farmer and a dad, it worries me that this disconnect exists. It’s really important to me to find ways to educate children about where their food comes from.

7. Harvest festivals in schools help kids learn about food and farming.

Most schools have a yearly harvest assembly, where they learn about the harvest and why it’s important. However this year, as a result of COVID-19 restrictions that prevent whole schools gathering together, the harvest assembly is off the menu for many kids – including my own. As an alternative, Jordans Cereals have partnered with The Wildlife Trusts and Eco-Schools to create Harvest Festival LIVE, the UK’s first ever virtual harvest festival. I’ll be hosting the event, which aims to teach kids just how important the role of nature is in producing the food we eat. You’ll find us streaming on YouTube from 10am, so if you want to learn more about nature and the harvest, come along!

Jordans Cereals has teamed up with Eco-Schools and The Wildlife Trusts to host the first ever virtual Harvest Festival, which will be streamed live on YouTube at 10am on Friday 9th October.