Monday, November 11, 2013

Celebrating the Fall Harvest

Autumn is a special and busy time at Historic Wagner Farm. The community gathers together for all our fall festivities, our gardeners gather their vegetable bounties, the barn cats find new hiding places, and school field trips fill our programming calendar.

One of the main topics we discuss at this time of year is the fall harvest. While most know the harvest is a time when farmers pick their crops and store them for winter, this time of year has a rich history in America filled with many traditions. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, we thought we would share a few of our favorite facts and customs.

  • Many harvest festivals took place around the time of the Harvest Moon. A harvest moon is a full moon that comes out around the time of the Fall Equinox, the day when the sun and moon are out for equal lengths of time.
  • Many harvest festivals involved large feasts where families would gather to share and eat their crops.  Many of us still take part in this kind of tradition on Thanksgiving.
  • Canning fruits and vegetables is a common preservation method. Early canning methods involved soaking a piece of paper in brandy that covered the top of the jar. Next you placed a piece of paper coated with egg over the entire top lid to seal off the air. This method provided the same air tight effect as modern-day pressure canners.
  • Did you know that there is more to harvest during the fall than just corn? In north central Wisconsin, farmers harvest cranberries. The cranberry bogs are flooded anywhere from one to two feet and farmers gather the berries that float to the top.
  • Many school-aged children stayed home to help during harvest season in the past. One woman from Pulaski County, Indiana remembers: “We stayed home in the fall to work until the crops were in. We missed lots of school that way." - from Girlhood Days, Memories of Hoosier Homemakers

Want to learn more about the harvest and check out what's been going on at Historic Wagner Farm? Click here to see our fall edition of Wagner Tales.