Jess James from the Exmoor Youth project explains how they have taken a different approach with Harvest Experience this year to ensure local school children can still enjoy Harvest.
Each year at the start of the school term myself, my colleague Lynne and a team of other workers and volunteers from around the local churches, get together to organise the Harvest Experience (we follow the ‘Experience Harvest’ resource produced by Jumping Fish Ltd and adapt it slightly). We have in the past run this experience day in five different schools in one week, and over the past four years of doing these days have done it with 9 of our 11 schools! It is exhausting, but we have such a great time and it is an enormous privilege to be able to go into schools or have them come to the churches and hear some of the gospel message!
For those of you reading this that have no idea what the Harvest Experience is- it contains 6 different stations that explore the different types of Harvest; Garden, Ocean, Flock, Grain, Earth and finally Thanksgiving (which is the session where everyone joins together and learns about the Jewish celebration ‘Sukkot’) these work on a carousel style basis and each group or class travel to each station every 10 minutes or so.
This year we were obviously unable to do such an event in either the schools or churches due to the ongoing pandemic, so decided to think outside the box and see if we could produce a resource that would enable schools to still take part in this fun and educational activity. We decided that a few of us would go and film each of the sessions ‘on location’ and produce a DVD (and YouTube link) that would let the schools be able to take part from their very own classrooms and bubbles. We are fortunate enough to live close to the sea, so that was an obvious choice for Harvest of the Ocean! We also were able to film in front of the Lime Kilns in Treborough (Earth), a family member’s allotment (Garden), a farmer’s sheep field (flock) and Dunster Water Mill let us film them making flour and talking us through the process for Harvest of the Grain! (They were even milling Rye flour for the very first time- what a huge blessing!) We managed to do all the filming over two weeks and then I spent a further week editing it all together – something I have had to learn how to do during lockdown! We also decided to put together a pack to go alongside the videos that we could deliver to all of the schools, so that they would have everything they needed to run the event. These contained packets of seeds, wheat and grains, thread for weaving, all instructions and prayers laminated, packs of origami paper (to make boats) and a few other things.
Each of our 11 first, middle and junior schools received a pack and DVD at the beginning of October and we have had a few responses from teachers who were very excited to be running it from their classrooms!
Please pray that although we were unable to run the event in person this year, each of the students and staff that experience it will find blessing through it and also that we would still be able to find new and creative ways of interacting with our local schools and families, even in these strange times.
If you would like to see any of our videos, you can find them here: