If you’re a member of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists, it will not have passed you by that there’s an annual event that everyone seems to talk about.
The Harvest Service and Lunch (or Luncheon, if you prefer a Wind in the Willows vibe) takes place in London every September, attracting up to 150 guests.
But even with such a fantastic turnout of agricultural communicators, their guests, and our much-valued sponsors, there is still a huge number of members who have never experienced the day.
We think that’s a shame.
Why? Because it’s our belief that it’s of value to anyone involved in agricultural communications, whether you’re at the start of your career and looking to grow your network, or you’ve been in the industry all your life and like to see lots of friends in the same room.
Don’t just take our word for it.
Guild member Louise Parratt attended her first Harvest Service and Lunch in 2022.
She said: “Despite the nerves of being in a large room with people I had never met, I was soon put at ease by being seated next to some like-minded individuals who it was a joy to talk to.
“I was lucky enough to hear to the euphonious choir during the church service, and the grandeur of the whole event was a wonderful experience. The toast, the speaker, the food and drink, the awards that were handed out and the company made me feel part of something quite magnificent.”
Fellow Guild member Hannah Lloyd says she’s been to many Harvest Lunch events, and always enjoys it.
She said: “It’s one of those events that is hard to explain to those who haven’t been before, but trust me, it’s worth the trip to London for one of those great days out that reminds you why we’re lucky to work in such a fantastic industry.
“You’ll come away from the Harvest lunch full of good food and drink, having made some new lifelong contacts and with a renewed sense of positivity about the future.
“I’d definitely recommend to anyone who works in comms and media, it’s a must-attend date for your diary.”
By now your brain should be thinking ‘OK, I’m interested – tell me more’.
Here’s what to actually expect from the day.
No, don’t worry, you don’t have to sing in front of everyone (unless you want to). This is a reference to the amazing choir of St Bride’s Church which punctuates a traditional harvest service by leading goose-bump inducing hymns. There’s always at least one fresh take on a piece of music you hadn’t expected to hear in the church, and it’s no exaggeration to say the choir is one of the highlights of the day.
Bubbles on arrival
Is it champagne? Probably not, but let’s toast the fact that after a quick trot from St Bride’s Church you’ll be welcomed into the marvellous Stationer’s Hall and greeted with a glass of something fizzy and refreshing (or flat and fruity, if you’d prefer).
Lots of chat
During the drinks reception, it’s customary to reference in conversation how lovely it is “to see so many agricultural communicators in one room”. And you’d be right. This is the first of many opportunities you’ll get throughout the day to meet journalists, editors, photographers, podcasters, PR professionals, marketeers and sponsors.
The main course
As an organisation intrinsically linked to producing great food and drink, you’d expect the three-course meal to be outstanding. Don’t you worry, it is. Seated at long tables, you’ll be among lots of interesting people – a great opportunity to informally chat with new faces.
Some outside perspective
After lunch (did you check out the menu yet?) we always have a short spot for a guest speaker to address the hall. This year we have secured Navaratnam ‘Theeb’ Partheeban who is a large animal vet, Nuffield scholar, Oxford Farming Conference director and campaigner for diversity in UK farming. It should be a really interesting address.
A time to celebrate
Then it’s on to the awards. Yes, there are quite a few of them. No, it doesn’t take as long as the Oscars. This is a section of the day where we can celebrate the great work of our peers. Hint: If you don’t know many people yet, it’s a great way to sneakily identify other members as they get their names called out and have to come to the front of the hall to collect their award.
Is that it? Not quite
After the Parting Glass – no spoilers here, so you’ll have to come along to see what that’s all about – there’s more time to move around the room and chat. A nearby pub is then chosen, and the frantic Googling of the route commences. The appointed watering hole ‘after party’ is not officially part of the Guild event, but a long-standing tradition, so if you want to continue the great conversations and meet even more members, that’s your opportunity.
You do not need a ticket to attend the Harvest Service at St Bride’s Church, on Fleet Street, but you do need one for the lunch. They’re on sale now here – and if you’re a member they’re just £80, plus the EventBrite booking fee. We’d love to see you there.
Non members are also very welcome. Tickets are £100 plus the booking fee.
To book your tickets, please click below.