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Underground, overground: A harvest assembly

To celebrate our enjoyment of vegetables and the different ways in which they are grown and harvested.

by The Revd Alan M. Barker

Suitable for Key Stage 1

Aims

To celebrate our enjoyment of vegetables and the different ways in which they are grown and harvested.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a wide range of vegetables, preferably not pre-packed. Your list might include: carrots and beetroot (with tops?) radish, potatoes, swede, leeks, onions, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, sweetcorn, pepper, spinach, marrow, pumpkin, runner beans.

  • Throughout the assembly have fun by using a thumbs down sign to signify ‘underground’ and thumbs up for ‘overground’.
  • Appropriate images of harvesting might be found on the internet and displayed, subject to copyright.

Assembly

  1. Refer to the display of vegetables and reflect that one of the joys of harvest is the colourful and varied appearance of the food that we eat. Not only do vegetables look and taste different, they also grow and are gathered in different ways.
  2. Explain that the seeds of all vegetables are sown in the soil. However, as the plants grow, some of the vegetables develop as roots and tubers hidden underground. While others become leaves, pods and fruit that grow above the surface, or overground.
  3. Select some of the vegetables. Identify them together with the children. Invite the assembly to respond to the question: ‘Underground or overground?’ (thumbs down or thumbs up).

    Describe the various patterns of growth. For example, potatoes must be ‘earthed up’ in ridges to help the crop grow without any light reaching in. Runner beans need the support of poles which they cling to (they can grow fast!). Some crops, such as carrots, may need to be ‘thinned out’, so that the roots have room to grow.
  4. Explain the different ways in which vegetables are harvested.

    Underground: Potatoes are dug and separated from the plant or haulm. Carrots and other root crops are pulled – perhaps after being loosened with a fork.

    Overground: Cabbages, cauliflowers, lettuce and marrows, are cut from the stem. Peppers and tomatoes, beans and sweetcorn are picked from the plant.
  5. Which vegetables do the children like best? Are they underground or overground? Reflect that some of the most enjoyable meals may be those with both underground and overground vegetables mixed on a plate. At harvest we are thankful for both. (One thumb down and the other up!)
  6. Sing this song to the tune of ‘Polly put the kettle on’, with appropriate harvesting actions.

    Sing a song of harvest time
    Sing a song of harvest time
    Sing of a song of carrots (thumbs down)
    We pull to eat.

    Sing a song of harvest time
    Sing a song of harvest time
    Sing a song of cabbages (thumbs up)
    We cut to eat.

    Sing a song of harvest time
    Sing a song of harvest time
    Sing of a song of potatoes (thumbs down)
    We dig to eat.

    Sing a song of harvest time
    Sing a song of harvest time
    Sing a song of peppers (thumbs up)
    We pick to eat

    (This song can be improvised as individual children suggest/hold up different vegetables. It could be concluded with the following verse.)

    Thank you, Lord , for harvest time
    Thank you, Lord,  for harvest time
    Underground and overground
    For us to eat.

Time for reflection

Adapt according to your vegetables.

Creator God,
We want to say ‘Thank you’ for the vegetables we enjoy:
For tiny seeds that grow into huge marrows, we say
Thank you.
For runner beans hanging like icicles,
Thank you.
For bright red radishes and deep purple beetroot,
Thank you.
For leafy green cabbages growing in rows,
Thank you.
For bright orange carrots hidden in the earth,
Thank you.
For red tomatoes ripening slowly in the sun,
Thank you.
For harvest that is underground and overground,
Thank you.

Song/music

'Autumn days' (Come and Praise, 4)

Publication date: October 2009   (Vol.11 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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