It’s been a tough year for children across the UK. Since schools first closed their gates in March, pupils continue to experience considerable disruption to their learning. What’s more, events and milestones previously taken for granted are now missing from the school calendar.
That includes the timeless tradition of the Harvest Festival, a custom dating back thousands of years. COVID-19 restrictions have made gatherings of multiple year groups impossible for schools, but Jordans Cereals were keen that children wouldn’t miss out on the annual harvest assembly. The solution? Teaming up with The Wildlife Trusts and Eco-Schools to create Harvest Festival LIVE, the UK’s first ever virtual harvest festival, which kicks off at 10am today.
Traditionally, harvest festivals marked the end of a successful harvest, when communities had successfully gathered enough crops from the fields to last them the winter. Nowadays, whilst a little less life-or-death for most people, Harvest Festivals provide the chance to celebrate the food we have, as well as provide donations to those who don’t have the same ready access to food.
As passionate advocates of nature-friendly farming (the farmers they partner with commit 10% or more of their land to wildlife) Jordans see Harvest Festival LIVE as a chance to help children understand the importance of nature in producing the food we eat. A new survey commissioned by Jordans found that children are more disconnected than ever from the farming traditions that keep them fed. Over a fifth (23%) of children aged 6-11 don’t know what a harvest is and 1 in 10 (11%) have never visited a farm.
Mia Hartwell, Sustainability Manager at Jordans Cereals, explains: “Harvest is a really special time of year, not just in the farming calendar but also for schools up and down the country who usually gather together to celebrate the food our farmers produce and the nature that makes it possible. While coronavirus continues to prevent schools from bringing large groups of children together, we were determined to find a way to mark this important milestone and bring the countryside to the classroom.”
Harvest Festival LIVE will feature drone footage of an oat harvest in action, and will cover topics and questions around protecting nature and how our food is grown. We’ll hear from a Jordans oat farmer, as well as a representative from The Wildlife Trusts. The Trusts are a frequent campaign partner of Jordans, and work to create bespoke plans to protect wildlife on each farm in the Jordans Farm Partnership.
Craig Bennett, CEO of The Wildlife Trusts, comments: “Harvest is an wonderful opportunity to celebrate food with children, to talk about where it comes from and the role that nature plays in keeping us fed. Harvest Festival LIVE will bring today’s children one step closer to life on a farm and open their eyes to the incredible diversity of wildlife that makes its home there.Nature is under threat from loss of habitat and climate change; our goal is for Harvest Festival LIVE to celebrate biodiversity and explain why it is more important than ever to protect our land in ways that allow wildlife to thrive. We work in partnership with Jordans farmers, creating a nature recovery network spanning over 4,200 hectares, and Harvest Festival LIVE will showcase this vital work.”
Of course, every event needs a good host, and we chose none other than JB Gill – one quarter of pop sensation JLS, and a farmer himself – to act as master of ceremonies in today’s festival.
JG Gill says: “As a farmer myself, I know all too well how much work goes into growing and producing food, and the importance of farming in harmony with nature. The annual Harvest celebration is a brilliant opportunity to teach children where their food comes from, and the journey it makes from farm to fork. My own children have the privilege of growing up on our family farm surrounded by animals, and I hope this event will convey some of the wonder and joy they experience when they are immersed in nature.”
Harvest Festival LIVE will culminate in the announcement of the winner of the harvest poetry competition coordinated by event partner Eco-Schools. Pupils were invited to submit poems themed on ‘how nature helps the harvest’. JB Gill will announce the winners and runners up, and read the winning poem to close out the event.
Lee Wray-Davies, Eco-Schools Manager, comments: “We understand that schools are facing a myriad of challenges this term, and we hope that providing a virtual Harvest Festival will mean they have one less thing to worry about. Schools and home learners can access a range of resources and take part in an exciting poetry competition to win the chance of hearing JB Gill read their poem to the nation.”
Harvest Festival LIVE kicks off on YouTube at 10am today. To find out more, and to access a wealth of educational resources for schools and families around the theme of harvest, head to the Jordans website.
If you’re taking part in the event then make sure to let us know on social media using the hashtag #HarvestFestivalLIVE. We can guarantee you’ll learn loads about protecting nature. We can’t guarantee you won’t find yourself with a strong craving for oats.
See you at 10am!