Wow! Harvest at St Thomas More’s Catholic Primary in Havant was off to a flying start this morning! The children are all set for Harvest Fast Day on Friday!
Education Volunteers, Patrick and Isobel Flynn, told us they were so impressed by the variety of produce around the school’s October Altar dedicated to Our Lady.
“Mr Flanagan, the Headteacher, began the assembly by reminding everyone that we are embarking upon Harvest Week and that we should give thanks to God for the fruits of the land at this time.
“He asked members of the school’s Garden Club to stand up so that he could acknowledge the hard work of Mrs Ward and her enthusiastic team in growing some excellent produce! He then offered a sample of raspberries and tomatoes to children from across the school classes. Mr Flanagan recalled how, as a young boy, he used to pull a stick of rhubarb from the garden and eat it raw, having first dunked it into the sugar bowl!
“His prize exhibit was a giant ‘Snozzcumber’, which started life as a modest courgette. (Mr Flanagan went on to explain that Snozzcumbers were eaten by the BFG and that this, in fact, was a large marrow!)
“Mr Flanagan then lit the school’s candles and we lit ours alongside to unite our prayers to God for a fruitful harvest across the world.”
Patrick and Isobel started their assembly by asking the children whether they could think of things that are needed to help crops grow well, such as sunshine, rain, and good soil as well as things that might hinder growth such as drought or flooding.
One of the things needed for growing food is good soil so Patrick and Isobel then showed the children how CAFOD has helped a family living in Bolivia to have much better soil for growing their vegetables.
Santos and Joel (pictured above) live in a small farm high up in the Andes mountains in an area called the Altiplano. Getting water is difficult and rain is unpredictable. There are a lot of hailstorms and frost which can wipe out people’s crops. The soil is generally very dry and of poor quality. This is a job for Wonder Worm as Patrick and Isobel went on to explain!
CAFOD’s partner is working with local people to help them create wormeries. These are big holes in the ground which the people dig, build a wall inside and fill with cow manure. Communities are given worms by CAFOD’s partner which they add to the hole, keep damp and cover to protect the worms from the very hot sun. Here is Elizabeth, Santos and Joel’s mother beside their wormery (below).
After about three months, Wonder Worm and his friends have done their job, and created wonderfully rich humus (the worms eat the cow manure and the humus is what comes out afterwards). The humus is worked into the fields as a fertiliser and then sown on the family’s fields.
Modesto, Joel and Santos’ father says “We realised very quickly how good it was. We used the humus on our potatoes and the next year they were very much taller than they would have been previously.”
As Patrick and Isobel explained, both boys help their parents with the work. Santos helps with the replanting, watering the plants and weeding. Joel (pictured above) helps with weeding but his Dad says sometimes “he pulls up the wrong plants.” Modesto says life will be much easier for his sons than it has been for him, as it will be easier to grow enough food. He also says that eating the vegetables means they are both healthy and growing properly.
Now not only does the family grow enough food for themselves but there have extra of some crops such as onions, chard, potatoes and beans which are taken into the nearest town to sell at market. Modesto also sells some of the worm humus, because people can see how good it is.
Patrick and Isobel also brought along some worm-rich compost and a selection of fresh produce, similar to that which is grown on the Altiplano, into the school to show the children. Patrick said,
“Unfortunately, our worms were resting at the time so they could only be seen in their beds! None-the-less, the children were delighted to see the enriched compost and then watched attentively as we played a short video.”
“We then invited the children to ‘Brighten Up’ this Harvest by wearing something bright and colourful on Friday. They were reminded too that there would be no tuck (sharp intake of breath from some!) and that lunch would be a tasty soup on Friday. The money saved could then be donated to CAFOD to support communities across the world instead.’
“We then all sang the school’s Harvest Song ‘It’s another Harvest Festival’ and we thanked the children and teachers for welcoming us in today. We also asked for the prayers for the communities of the Altiplano and for the work of CAFOD and wished them a very ‘Happy Harvest Festival!'”
Thank you so much Patrick and Isobel for sharing this with us and thank you too to everyone at St Thomas More’s Catholic Primary for all your enthusiasm and support! We really appreciate all you do for global justice. Thank you!
Find out more about our work in Bolivia and Ruben’s story by watching this short film below.