Happy Harvest / Lughnasad

lammas_3I’ve had an overwhelming feeling of abundance lately.

Every day, I’ve been stepping out into my garden and picking fresh food.

From potatoes that need nothing more than 10 minutes steaming and serving with some butter to courgettes that snake along the ground and turn into marrows overnight to herbs that add their piquancy and zing to light, summer meals it’s all there and it seems the more I take, the more there is.

Today we celebrate Lughnasad (or Lammas), named after the ancient Sun God, Lugh. If you’ve been out and about recently you might have noticed a difference in the air – a kind of stillness, a resting, a sense that mid summer is over and everything is maturing.

The ground is rich and bursting with life, but in the evenings the birds are quieter, the air hangs heavy and it’s dusty. The bright greens have passed, giving way to paler, musty yellows. No longer growing, blooming or fruiting, the plants turn their energies to seed, preparing for the inevitable winter but holding the promise of new life in spring.

Mother Nature provides everything we need; from food to water to herbs to heal us, it’s all there. Today then, we take a moment to honour Mother Nature, who blesses the fields with grain in order for her children to thrive.

Nowadays we can get whatever food we want at any time of year:  Strawberries on Christmas Day? No problem! But to our ancestors a good harvest was the difference between life and death. Stop and think about that for a moment. How much of the food offered to you do you take for granted? With the average person in the UK throwing away one third of the food they eat, it’s clear we see food as a disposable commodity. We don’t revere, appreciate or value it much any more.

By growing a little of our own food I’ve started to develop a reverence and understanding. I have learned about the time it takes, the amount of water needed, the tending you have to give plants to keep weeds away, about dealing with pests and the fact I have to get out there no matter what the weather or my mood would dictate. You have to harvest at the right time otherwise food rots on the plant…

Lughnasad is a celebration of transformation – the seed that grows, flowers and fruits finally become the food that sustains us and it’s the first of three harvest festivals – this one focuses on grain. What simpler and more profound way to honour this festival than my baking bread? Kneading bread dough slows us down, gets us into a rhythmical and meditative state and gives us the opportunity to step into the moment with mindful participation. It is traditional to burn a little bit of your special loaf of bread on a bonfire as an offering and as a way to welcome new blessings to come into your life.

Another wonderful way to celebrate this day and to provide you with some self sufficiency is to collect seeds ready for next year. I’ve already gathered our fat, black chive seeds and am making sure I leave one of each plant in the ground to develop their seed pods.

What about you – Do you celebrate Lughnasad?


  1. Lomba on August 1, 2011 at 8:52 am

    There is of course the Lammas community in West wales, who, have after years of trying, have finally gained planning permission, to build self sustainble homes made with locally sourced materials.

    Now I know where their name derives from.

    Thank you for another excellent article, your writing is elegant and it brings the real sense of us actually being in your garden as well.

    How well you define the cycle of nature and the precious food it yields up to us

    Yes, I have noticed the change in the atmosphere this past week, a feeling that summer is waning and the long, hot sticky days have reached their zenith

  2. Mrs Green on August 15, 2011 at 5:57 am

    @Lomba: Hi 🙂 Thanks for your lovely comment. This morning I’m about to update my facebook status with the fact I definitely feel a hint of autumn in the air!