Chris Sunderland from EarthAbbey reflects on the recent harvest festival celebrations he has been involved in.
Why did many people say it felt so good to celebrate in this way? Part of the attraction was that it was something we had done ourselves. It felt raw and approachable. There was no hype, or hard sell. There were no celebrities, no big egos. We were just human beings who had done something.
What is so special about homemade?
The recent Homemade Festival here in Bristol had a very special feel to it. I wondered why. We had asked people to come and contribute something they had made, or grown, or cooked, or music they could sing, or a game they could lead…
We had food from Poland, Bangladesh, a curry made from homegrown ingredients. We had musicians, all working unplugged, a group which sang unaccompanied, others who had written their own work. We sat around on straw bales, eating the food, which was served from our new outdoor kitchen, which had been built by the community using traditional woodworking skills and unmachined wood. Outside the young people were playing, making dens and walkways between trees in the park beside the road, while a whole selection of crafts were displayed with bright quilts, and other textiles, homemade carpets and cakes.
The focus of the festival was our Walled Garden in Barton Hill in Bristol. Many people took the chance to see what had been going on there, like the remarkable pumpkin that had spread so far, even up the trees or the thirty types of tomato and the beginnings of the forest garden. The garden is still in its early stages really, but it is already a great place to be. Soon there will be a roundhouse, built as a reflective space, a cob oven for the new kitchen and a rainwater harvesting system.
We had organised the festival in partnership with many of the local organisations and the burden of responsibilities had been shared between different people. Many people said it felt good.
I guess part of the attraction was that it was something we had done ourselves. It felt raw and approachable. There was no hype, or hard sell. There were no celebrities, no big egos. We were just human beings who had done something.
Matthew Crawford in his book The Case for Working with your Hands points out how much of our world today is based around pretence of some form or another. We are all very insecure as we shout across the internet to each other, trying to attract attention to our latest idea. Yet he points out that the person who has actually made something need say nothing. They only need to point.
Chris Sunderland, EarthAbbey
This article originally appeared in the EarthAbbey blog and is reproduced with permission.