Yellow, orange, red leaf … it’s time to harvest!

Hello again!

Fall is definitely here and that means that most of our plants in the area are ready for harvest! That’s exactly what our day was all about: fall harvest. Before we went off into the Heathcote gardens in search for ripe fruit and vegetables to pick, we first gathered some thoughts on what is typical for this season and why fall is the biggest harvest season. Some of the students’ first thoughts (of course!) were the bright, fast changing color of the leaves. Other ideas were: cooler weather, beginning of a new school year,  Halloween, warmer clothes, wind, leafless trees … As we went outside we noticed that even the leaves on some of the plants we were about to harvest fruit and vegetables from had changed and were starting to become brown. At first the students were a little confused about the fact that the plant was seemingly dying, but still growing fruits / vegetables. Little did they know that they had just found their answer as to why fall is the best harvest time of the year. As we examined the plants a little closer we noticed that the leaves were indeed dying and falling off. The fruit and vegetable on the plants though were still growing! We even discovered flowers still in bloom! The children came quick to the conclusion that this must be where the plant is investing its energy in. And after taking a closer look to the fruit and vegetables it became clear why plants do this: the fruit and vegetables carry the seeds! While harvesting we then spoke about how plants spread their seeds. “Maybe some animals don’t eat all of the fruit / vegetable and some seeds fall onto the ground? Birds eat the berries and then poop the seeds out while flying! The fruit / vegetable fall on the ground and the seeds grow again next year” were just a few of the students ideas. Our harvest included cultivated but also wild edibles: strawberries, wild grapes, beans, peas, tomatoes, dandelions, ground cherries, green onions, corn … nibbling while harvesting was allowed! 🙂 And as our stomachs started to rumble we all took some of our harvested food and added it to our morning snack.

After snack we were on our way to the Farmer’s Pantry to get a closer look at where our food actually comes from. While walking around on the farm we focused on three main topics of harvesting:

  1. What is harvesting?
  2. What is needed to harvest?
  3. What happens with the harvest?

Looking at the buildings, machinery, speaking to the local farmers and of course, after petting and feeding every single farm animal at least 10 times it began to become clear that a lot more was involved in harvesting than simply picking an apple from a tree. The children realized that a lot of people were needed to not only grow the food, but maintain it, harvest it and also transport it to stores after the food had been picked. To become more aware of the amount of food that is grown in one single farmer’s field we walked about the apple orchards and counted the rows of apple trees and counted the amount of apple trees planted in a single row. Afterwards we estimated about how many apples grew on a single tree based on the apples we had found lying on the ground beneath it, the apples that were still in the tree and the estimated amount that had already been picked. We all took our guesses and the numbers varied between 1000 – 1 000 000 apples in one farmer’s field. According to our calculations: the Farmer’s Pantry has about 450 000 apples growing in one field. 

After returning to the Heathcote property I asked the children to think about natural factors that are necessary to make a fall harvest possible. Some of the children’s thoughts were: seeds, farmers, plants, rain, sunshine, earth, workers, trucks, tractors, machines, customers, animals, pesticide, … Therefore, a good fall harvest depends on a lot of things and needs just the right conditions to make everything bloom and grow. We are very fortunate to have all of this right here in our area! With Thanksgiving approaching, the big fall harvest reminds us of our luck!

After our many conversations about fall harvest today and our encounters at the Farmer’s Pantry, the students went to their sitspots with their journals to reflect on what is meaningful in their very own lives and to take some time to experience gratitude for their individual fortune.

Next week: ponds (or rivers!)

See you then, Tamara

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