Chew Stoke Harvest Home

The Changing Landscape

& Community of the Chew Valley

Many of the villagers who gave their accounts mentioned of course the changing landscape of the Chew Valley and how farmland and farming has dwindled here over the years. Industry, fads and fashions and Health and Safety ‘rules’ also dictate the pace – for eg the School records from the 1980’s note that it wasn’t possible to redistribute fresh produce that had been brought in for the Harvest Service by the children. Tins and dried foods had better results!

So there was a sense also that the nature of the Community, and what that means to people, and the Harvest Home celebrations themselves had changed somewhat with the passage of time. People expressed this in various ways – it was ‘the war’, or the arrival of ‘the lake’, the departure of the funfair, the separation of the horse show from the ‘main’ festivities (now reunited of course), or perhaps the arrival of commuters who don’t ‘get involved’ or ‘grow their own’ vegetables as people used to, not that long ago:

“Everything changes, nothing stays the same - Christmas isn’t the same as you get older either!”

"Bring back the greasy pole with the pillows!"

”The War came and altered it. There were a lot more entries in the past. Everybody mucked in. People don’t all seem to get into it in the same way (nowadays)”.

“Everybody grew veg in those days. The Council houses had big gardens.”

One lady whose family farms in the valley is philosophical about the changes:

“Aspects of country life have changed and we can’t compare now with how it was then. Many of the small farms have gone and we all have to move on. It’s a different world ...different interests. Its definitely changed how the Harvest Home is. (Back then) it all stemmed from the soil – there was silage, hay, turnips, kale, swedes ... “


Dorothy Thompson, who runs the Flower Show, (and loves it!):

“Not so many people grow their own like they used to. Its just how life is now. Maybe there are less vegetable entries, but there are photos and handicrafts. ... There may well be a resurgence of people growing their own again. I have great optimism that they will.”

A former Committee member notes:

“We may have come to realise just how important land is in the UK. The intensification of farming may be about to be resumed.”

“(There are signs) that everyone nowadays is going back to gardening.”