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Ancient harvest traditions with local twists

By Lorraine Graves

Published 2:28 PDT, Thu September 5, 2019

Last Updated: 3:30 PDT, Thu September 5, 2019

Most cultures and locales have a harvest festival to give thanks for and celebrate the bounty of the fields. Richmond is set to host just such festivals as fall arrives in our city.

Most cultures and locales have a harvest festival to give thanks for and celebrate the bounty of the fields. Richmond is set to host just such festivals as fall arrives in our city.

Three examples are Feast of the Fields, the Harvest Full Moon Festival at Minoru and, at Richmond City Centre Community Centre, the Harvest Full Moon Project.

The festival culminates in the fifth annual Community Harvest Celebration and Lantern procession, Sept. 14 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Minoru Park. 

“This particular event is an interweaving of cultures, celebrating both the harvest time and this time of year when the full moon is called the harvest moon,” explains co-ordinator Marina Szijarto. “There is a large demographic within the City Centre whose cultural background is from Asia. Their celebration at this time of year is called the Mid-Autumn Festival. And so this project is a combination of my English heritage and growing up in a rural agricultural area. Richmond’s history, and to this day, is that of a farming community with some of the richest farm land in Canada. That’s why this is a mix of those cultures,” says the local artist who created the Harvest Full Moon Project.

Activities start at the Richmond City Centre Community Centre on Sept. 6 and run through Sept. 11. They include workshops where you can learn to make mooncakes, harvest bread, lanterns and dumplings, as well as a chance to decorate your own paper tea cup to use in the festival.   

Feast of the Fields, on Sept. 8 at Rabbit River Farms, is put on by Farm Folk City Folk. It is an organization dedicated to introducing those outside the agricultural sector to the splendor and variety of food, drink and other produce we enjoy from the farmers of our province. By understanding where our food comes from, and the work that goes into it, the organization hopes for more support for the farming sector on which we all depend. 

Their website says, “We connect, empower, and inspire people to strengthen BC's sustainable food systems.” 

Feast of the Fields, held in Richmond for the first time, gives city folk a chance to taste the best of B.C. agriculture in all its forms from raw produce to wine and gourmet food.

The participating restaurants and chefs prepare B.C.’s finest produce as feast-goers wander about with their own plate, utensils and glass to sample their way through the field. See the website for the venue map to see the variety food stalls. Remember to take cash if you hope to buy things to bring home.  

There is an old saying, that you need a doctor occasionally, a lawyer maybe once in your life, but a farmer you need three times a day every day. The harvest festivals are a time to ponder and thank the farmers who feed us. 

One purpose of the Harvest Moon festival and workshops highlighting harvest time, is to also bring Richmond’s city centre together as a community. Long an area of apartments, stores and malls, it is becoming a residential neighbourhood, albeit one of apartment-dwellers, but a neighbourhood nonetheless. 

Of the previous parade, Gary Cross, then a member of the City Centre Community Centre Association board said, “On the evening we walked together celebrating the harvest moon, I felt that for the first time, we were a community celebrating in something together. Our City Centre neighbourhood was no longer just a mere spot on the map, we were connected. I deeply hope that The Harvest Full Moon Festival will grow until it’s ingrained as part of our culture and tradition.” 

For more information on Feast of the Fields Sun, Sept. 8 from 1 to 5 p.m. at Rabbit River Farms www.rabbitriverfarms.com, 17740 River Rd go to feastoffields.com/metro-vancouver-2019-feast/

For the festival parade, meet at Bowling Green Road, east of Richmond Hospital.

For more information about Harvest Full Moon Project and Festival go to harvestfullmoonproject.wordpress.com

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