Riverford Wicked Leeks

squashy musings

One thing that can be said about farming is that there’s no chance of getting bored; things always keep moving on as the year unfolds. Looking around the fields right now at the beginning of September, I can see that the combine harvesters have done their work on the neighbouring farms and almost all of their cereal crops have been gathered in, leaving them busy baling up the straw. With all that trundling of tractors and activity in the fields, now is the time when our thoughts start to turn to harvest festivals.

A harvest festival is an annual celebration of the main harvest for a particular region, and this is around what everyone sees as ‘gathering in the corn’ here in Britain, where the tradition goes back to people giving thanks for a successful harvest back in Pagan times. There are many harvest festivals around the world such as the Chinese Moon Festival and Thanksgiving in North America; maybe we should have one for asparagus in June, strawberries in July and apples in September. When I really think about it though, a harvest festival devoted to the squash and pumpkins of the world seems the best idea. Supposedly originating in Mexico, these relatives of cucumbers and courgettes are now cultivated extensively around the world, and in Wikipedia I gave up counting at 130 “common” varieties. We start to see squash coming into the farm from several growers this month, and our squash box will be available soon, so keep an eye out. You can expect 7kg of at least three different varieties of squash, with pleasing names such as Turban Aladdin, Munchkin and Sunshine. Sounds a bit like a new-age version of the
Seven Dwarves.

Pumpkins (actually another type of squash) are very much associated with Halloween, so given that our Pumpkin Day is on Saturday October 29th (free entry), should it be a harvest festival for squash or a Halloween celebration? Either way, there will be pumpkin carving, farm walks, loads of activities for the kids to get stuck into and lots of tasty organic food and drink. It’s also a good opportunity for us to show you what to do with a squash; personally a bit of curry is my favourite, but the great thing about squash is that they store brilliantly whilst you decide what to do with them!

Gordon Twigg