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Highlights 2014

Highlights 2014

The National Harvest Service in Birmingham Cathedral 

See a selection of photos of the National Harvest Service on our Flickr page.

Setting the scene for this year’s National Harvest Service took some work. There were flowers to be arranged, displays to set up and animals to be penned!


Over 350 children and teachers from 19 schools and one home educator group attended the Service having applied for a place in the summer term. Each group had since spent time planting seeds and researching local foods to create a harvest box for the service, and the fruits of their labours were on proud display inside the Cathedral.



At the beginning of the Service, the Harvest ‘Torch’ was processed and place on the Alter by local allotmenteer Wesi Booth and local school pupil, Martyna Duzewska. The Torch, made by Master Blacksmith Andrew Hall is a specially commissioned sculpture that depicts the harvest’s natural bounty and is the food and farming community’s answer to the Olympic Torch! The Torch will be kept at Birmingham Cathedral for a year until it moves to the next city that hosts the National Harvest Service. (Click here to find out more about the Harvest Torch.) 

© Chris Collins 2014 

Sixteen year old Lauren Williams, Young Poet Laureate for Birmingham 2013-14, read her poem ‘The Harvest’, a reflection on the meaning of bringing home the harvest in the world today.  The Rt Revd David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, gave a special address which finished with a reflection on the importance of giving thanks for our food. Meurig Raymond, President of the National Farmers Union, read from Deuteronomy (8.7-9, 28.3-6.) and Claire Worden, National Chairman of the Nation Federation of Young Farmer's Clubs, pondered the question, “Why do farmers farm?”



During one of the hymns children from Bartley Green School, Halesowen Home Educators and St Francis CofE Primary School presented harvest offerings to the Dean, which were placed on the Alter with the Harvest Torch. The prayers were read by George Ashley from West House School, Deborah Oyedijo from The Oval Primary School, Farhan Hussain from Marlborough Infant & Nursery School and Charlotte Sullivan from Abbeys Primary School.


Following the service, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall viewed the children's harvest boxes in the South Aisle and spoke to them about the produce they had grown and made. 



The harvest boxes were then loaded onto a 100 year old horse drawn trolley, owned by local farmer Kevin Morris, and taken to the Birmingham Central Food Bank. The contents of the boxes, along with the produce, kindly donated by Tesco, which made up the display at the Main Entrance will be distributed to people in crisis in the city.



A great day was had by everyone involved and even the horses and farm animals got a moment in the spotlight!!

None of it would have happened without the support of numerous people and organisations, but we would like to pass our thanks particularly to Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall, Tesco Ltd and Birmingham Cathedral. The National Harvest Service is all about encouraging children to explore food; to find out more about where it comes from and how it ends up on our plates. Children are given the opportunity to celebrate the foods local to them and to give thanks for it.Here's what a few people had to say about the day and what it meant to them:

“We have had great fun with all the activities leading up to the Service in Birmingham. We really loved attending Birmingham Cathedral and were especially excited about meeting HRH The Duchess of Cornwall who was very lovely. Everyone was so kind and we enjoyed seeing our hard work being loaded on the back of a horse and cart to go to a local food bank and help others.”
Adam Kearney, Year 8 student, Copleston High School

“We were very impressed by the standard of harvest baskets and all the work that the children from all the schools put into them. The children who meet HRH were in awe and a bit speechless - what a great memory for them to have of their time in primary school.”
Ida Coombs, teacher, Moredon Primary School

“Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to be part of (the National Harvest Service). From the beautiful horses arriving in our car park in the morning, the great harvest service at the Cathedral and the donations of all the fabulous food, we loved every minute!!! We've already started to distribute the foods to people who are destitute and in need.”
Patricia White, Manager, Birmingham Central Food Bank


The Search for Harvest Heroes with the Telegraph

Search for Harvest Heroes in Association with the Telegraph. The winners were chosen by judges including The Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; David Wood, Group Managing Director, Health & Wellness Division, Tesco; Raymond Blanc; Adam Henson and Blue Peter Gardener Chris Collins.

Emsworth's outstanding effort saw a series of events spread across the two weeks with two local producer markets, foraging walks, themed lunches, films about the town's oyster heritage and tastings. Students from the nearby colleges took over the Brookfield Hotel to prepare a three course Great British Menu and a food mountain was built, with the goods donated to the Beacon Food Bank.


Adam Henson thought that Emsworth fulfilled all of the judging criteria brilliantly. David Woods commented on the broad appeal of what took place and the fact the campaign involved so many aspects of the community.

Alistair Gibson, Organiser of Emsworth Food Fortnight, said:
"Winning this competition is a wonderful recognition for a fortnight that grew into a true community event, encompassing so many people from young to old. As a result it will highlight Emsworth as a real food destination as well as reminding the local population that we need to support both our local business and community. It has already seen the establishment of a permanent, once monthly food bank collection point to coincide with Emsworth's monthly market day."

The first runner up was #Harvestfever in Somerset. The organisers hosted a series of events to showcase the wealth of local food and drink products to the local community, such as a pop-up farmers market at a school. The other finalists in this category included a Nepali Elders Community Bake in Hampshire, an on-Farm Harvest Festival in Leicestershire and Weston Super Food Festival in Somerset.

Beech Hill Primary School, Newcastle, were eventual winners of the tightly contested young people's category. They tied their harvest activities to work on World War One, researching the food grown in allotments across the country and visiting a local residential home to listen to the resident's memories of food and life during the War. An afternoon was held where the residents were invited to enjoy a meal using produce grown on the school's allotment and recipes researched by the children. Other activities included visits to local producers, plus a market was held to sell the pupils harvest goods.


Raymond Blanc thought it was important that the school crossed the generational boundaries with their activities and was impressed that they embraced all aspects of harvest: farming, cooking, art, craft and community.

Diane Morren, Teacher at Beech Hill Primary, said:
“We are thrilled to have won the competition. The children enjoyed doing a range of exciting harvest activities from visiting Tesco's 'Farm to Fork' trail, along with growing a range of vegetables, from seed, in our gardens. Developing a friendship with the residents from our local old folks home had a huge impact and all of these activities together have helped us to promote British values of respect, friendship, acceptance, tolerance and understanding of others throughout the school.”

The first runner up was Abbeys Primary School in Milton Keynes who organised a special harvest day at school that the whole school took part in with different activities for different classes. The other finalists in this category included Copleston High School in Ipswich, St Francis Primary & Nursery School in Bournville and the Oval Primary School in Birmingham.

Elizabeth Truss presented the winners with special handcrafted awards which have been fashioned from oak collected from the Duchy Estate by talented letter carver, Tom Sargeant.

The champions of the Community Category were treated to behind-the-scenes tour of the Michelin Starred Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons gardens, where a member of the expert team will reveal more about Raymond Blanc's new National Heritage Garden over a delicious breakfast.

The winners of the Young People's category will receive an action-packed gardening workshop with Blue Peter Gardener Chris Collins, plus cookery equipment kindly donated from the Tesco Home Range.

Teacher Diane Morren said: “The equipment will transform our cookery lessons, and the children are going to be unbelievably excited to have Blue Peter gardener, Chris Collins in school.”