Here in the Northeast harvest season is winding down. There are late season crops that are still to be harvested but the bulk of harvesting has taken place already and many cities and communities have harvest festivals. These festivals are fun events that include contests, games, music, art and of course food.
For community gardeners it is a time to show off their best flowers, largest and most perfect veggies and fruit and bountiful baskets from their gardens. The competitions can be intense but they are also a time to compare growing techniques, new varieties and best practices. The harvest fairs are a great time to learn from others and to make resolutions for next year.
Harvest Fairs and Festivals happen in many places like Juneau, Alaska , Brownwood, Texas , Toronto, Canada , Bronx, New York , San Francisco and St. Louis, Missouri to link to just a few. Each has a different flavor or theme. A harvest festival tour would be a fun vacation.
I have been a judge in a number of harvest fairs though I missed this year. It is wonderful to see the variety of peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and squashes that people grow. Often it is difficult to choose between first and second place. In some cases I want to give everyone a ribbon. There are usually very strict contest rules - the number and size of fruits, the length of the stems, absence of blemishes - that will sometimes rule out otherwise good entries. Most important is that folks have an opportunity to be recognized for the work they put in during the season.
For community gardeners it is often the only time when they get recognition for the many hours that they volunteered to improve their neighborhoods. Most often community gardeners are challenged about what they are not doing. How come your plot is so weedy? Why is all of this trash in the garden? Why wasn't the garden open yesterday? Why didn't you come to the meeting? Somebody forgot to lock the shed!!
It may happen that someone passes by and says thanks for what you are doing but complaints are far more frequent. So beyond all of the fun and games the nicest thing about harvest fairs are those ribbons and the well deserved acknowledgement that the community gardeners receive. Congratulations for and thanks to community gardeners for all you have done this year and Happy Harvest Time!