An Earth-honoring religious path rooted in science

Let’s Talk Harvest!

Harvest—the autumnal equinox, which takes place this year on Friday, September 22—marks a time for celebration and culmination, for reflection on the shortening days and on the balance between light and warmth and cold and darkness. It is an opportunity for us to consider how our plans have worked out, and to bask in the satisfaction of those which have led to positive results. And it is a moment for gathering of families and communities to celebrate the abundance we enjoy, focusing on the positives in our lives.

Harvest is a reckoning, too. Some things we plant just don’t come up, or if they do, they are stunted and useless. Hallows will be the time to turn those failed experiments into the ground, but Harvest is a time for acknowledging them, and taking note for next year’s planting.

The classic Harvest celebration is a communal feast: perhaps a potluck using local produce, or a meal you offer to your family, friends and/or community in your home. Harvest is “Pagan Thanksgiving”: a time to enjoy and reflect on the wonder, the extraordinary magic by which food just arises from the Earth, delicious and sustaining, and on our great good fortune to enjoy it. Even if you celebrate by yourself, eat well that day, and pause to savor the flavors and nutrition, understanding how blessed you are simply to have good and adequate food in your life.

My usual food blessing is this: This food, arisen from the body of the generous Earth by the power of the mighty Sun, comes to us by many hands. May all be honored and blessed. The unison response is, We are grateful to eat today. 

But it’s a special occasion, so you may also want to include some words of gratitude for family and community as well.

It’s a time for generosity. Take some food into work, and share it. Volunteer at a local food pantry or homeless shelter. Be the giver of food, which is the giver of life.

Here’s a delicious and easy recipe for caprese salad that carries all the freshness and aliveness I associate with the season: a perfect dish for that Harvest meal.

Caprese Salad

Start with the best heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil leaves available. Arrange these in layers on a plate. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with the best available olive oil and balsamic vinegar (not too much vinegar, just a light drizzle), and serve.

Share your favorite recipes in the comments!


  1. Since zucchinis can make up a disproportionate amount of a garden’s output, here’s a recipe that can use up a lot of zucchini at one go.

    Zucchini Fritters
    1 1/2 lbs. of grated zucchini (you can use the big feral ones for this)
    Salt and pepper
    1 egg
    2 scallions, minced (or a big, double handful of chopped fresh basil)
    1/2 cup of flour
    Oil for frying (I use a mix of canola and olive oil)
    Yogurt or sour cream for topping
    Optional: 1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese (add at same time as flour)

    Toss the grated zucchini with about 1 teaspoon of salt for every pound of vegetable. Let mixture sit draining in a colander for about 10-15 minutes, then thoroughly squeeze out as much moisture as you possibly can, discarding the water. The zucchini should weigh about half of what it originally did, maybe less. Some folks use a ricer for this. I squeeze it handful by handful.

    To the squeezed-out grated zucchini, add chopped herbs or scallions, more salt and some pepper, and then gently toss with the flour (and parmesan, if you’re using cheese) to coat all the bits and separate the clumps. Beat the egg separately, then quickly and gently stir the egg into the vegetable mixture. Form the mixture into thin patties and fry in hot oil until well-browned on both sides. Let the fritters sit a moment on a paper towel after cooking to drain off some of the oil. These are best eaten while still quite hot. A dollop of yogurt (you could add a little tahini or garam masala if you want to gussy it up) on the top makes a nice garnish. Good as an appetizer or a main dish.

    This recipe also works nicely with pumpkin or any hard squash.

    Note: All quantities are approximate, and can be adjusted or stretched as needed. 1 1/2 pounds of zucchini will make about 7 fritters.

    If you’re using one of those huge runaway zukes, give it a good scrub then quarter it lengthwise, remove the pith and seeds (give those to your chickens!) and grate the rest. The skin shouldn’t be a problem unless it’s so hard that you can’t easily puncture it with your fingernail.

  2. This time of year is always an olfactory delight for me, a harvest of smells. Ripe fruit, dry leaves, cool evening air that’s still a little dusty, even the Sonoma Aroma, they’re all part of the season. And then there’s that glorious first rain, and all the smells that that brings. It’s something about trying to inhale the last of the warmth of summer before the cold weather and darkness settle in, catching the golds and oranges before it all goes to green and grey. And the sound of the crickets is part of it too, that gentle churring in the dusk and dark. I’ve always loved this time of year best.

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