There was a time when getting together with your neighbours over a bite to eat was a pretty regular occurrence, usually to celebrate some event in the agricultural or church calendar. The Harvest Supper was pretty significant among them but I recall a childhood full of impromptu ‘bring and share’ suppers after helping with hay making, fruit picking, carol singing, ploughing and following the Good Friday walk. Royal Weddings, jubilees and even a village bonfire have provided ample opportunity for a community feast. But these occasions are thin on the ground compared to years ago.
I have to admit that any requests for help with the school flower patch has been accompanied by the promise of food. Putting up the polytunnel (in the snow) required a vat of soup and home baked bread along with kilos of delicious cake. What parent can refuse to help when there’s food involved? And a communal supper at the end of a project is the very best way to bond and relax. Anybody involved in a community garden will tell you that.
In recent years there has been a move to reintroduce the concept of a community getting together over a shared meal in the shape of The Big Lunch. Lottery-funded and backed by the Eden Project it takes place on the first Sunday in June. It is the perfect opportunity to get to know your neighbours, make your signature dish, grow a few things to share, make and hang up bunting, play community games, thank people for helping with a project or even launch a project off. It’s not too late to organise something on a small scale for this year. There are plenty of ideas on their website. But if you’re thinking further ahead then next year’s could be the ideal opportunity to thank everyone who has helped get your school or community flower patch up and running. You’ll have first class table decorations for a start. And you’ll also be able to show potential customers your fabulous flower patch.