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'We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land'

One of my earliest memories is standing beside my farmer Dad as he sang the hymn ‘We plough the fields’ with gusto at our annual Harvest Service in Athy, Co Kildare. 

It was a time to give thanks to God for another year and a plentiful Harvest on the farm.

As a child, growing up on a tillage farm, Harvest brought feelings of excitement. 

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Jane and her father bringing in the harvest in Athy, Ireland. Credit: Jane Burns

Farms were busy, there was lots of machinery on the move, we were anxiously watching the weather, and bringing grain samples to the local merchant to see if it was ripe enough to cut - all things that farming families will associate with the season. 

Since becoming involved with Christian Aid about 13 years ago I have begun to have a new appreciation and understanding about what Harvest means to farmers in the developing world. 


Harvest in Zimbabwe

In 2014, I travelled to Zimbabwe with a group of Christian Aid supporters to see the work that our partner organisations were carrying out there. 

I met a lady called Sarah who was involved in a garden project that Christian Aid had funded. 

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Jane, Sarah and Sarah's son in Zimbabwe. Credit: Jane Burns

We are a similar age and both have three children, but Sarah’s experience of farming is very different from my own.

Sarah grows her vegetables in a community garden, set up by our partners Zimpro.

On the day that we visited her, she was harvesting vegetables that she was going to sell the following day in a local market – which is also supported by Christian Aid.

Many things struck me about Sarah’s harvest.

Firstly, the climate was so dry she was transporting water on her head from a nearby lake to water her vegetables and irrigate the land. 

And once her vegetables had been gathered, Sarah put them on a cart to be drawn by two donkeys to the market.


But what struck me most about Sarah was her joy. 

Her joy at being a part of this project, her joy at her Harvest, and her joy that she could pay for her children to go to school – albeit after walking 8km - all because of her involvement with a Christian Aid project. 

It was a deeply humbling experience - one that left me in tears.

Sarah is someone that I think of often, and she and the other participants in the Zimbabwe garden projects are in my thoughts when I read these verses in Psalm 126:

‘Lord make us prosperous again, just as the rain brings water back to dry riverbeds. Let those who wept as they sowed their seed gather the harvest with joy!'


Christian Aid believes in equality, dignity and freedom for all people, and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to see these principles reflected through our projects and the people I have met.  

‘All good gifts around us are sent from heav'n above. Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord for all His love.’

Harvest is the perfect season to reflect upon all the good gifts that we have and how we can share them with others.


You can help to support Christian Aid's work, such as this project, by donating to our Harvest Appeal.


About the author

Sierra Leone school

Jane Burns is Christian Aid Ireland's Church and Community Officer, based in our Dublin office.

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