Before a Roman Pope started making decisions about time, the moon and the calendar; long, long before electronic devices told us what time it was everywhere and what was happening there, existed a different start to the year. In the same way the sun and the moon told the plants to grow, the animals to wake up and the birds to build nests it gave shape to human time. The Anglo Saxon name for April was Oestre monath after Ostara or Oestre, sometimes known as the ‘great mother goddess’ who gave her name to the Paschal festival of Easter.
We celebrated this festival with Odd Cross buns at the Argent Easter Egg Hunt which made some children very happy and some children cry a lot when faced with a giant Easter Bunny. Some folklore suggests an affinity between the Goddess Oestre and hares, from which the Easter Bunny tradition grew, so she may have delighted in a human taking rabbit form for the celebration.
The new growth marked more than a new season. In late medieval France, April had always heralded the new year and when this was changed by papal decree, many refused to budge and the ‘April Fool’s’ tradition was born. The traditionalists were branded backward looking fools and playing jokes on them was commonplace.
At The Skip Garden this April marked a number of new beginnings. New students have come to work with the Community Chef and Gardener, Vero and Kiloran respectively. New freelance chefs are joining our events team and we welcomed back our old café chef, Giorgia, who is brimming with new ideas.
The Skip Garden kitchen has always worked with local, seasonal ingredients and featured food grown in our skips but this ‘new’ year we decided to draw the kitchen and garden closer and enrich the menu with the stories of the seasons and the traditions around the food we grow and eat. Our menus and events will be reflecting a theme for each month drawn from the ecological calendar, positioning of the moon and the history surrounding it.
April’s theme was new life. We have been sprouting cime di rapa, collecting three cornered leek (a type of wild garlic) and enjoying tall and lofty garden scallions while watching the flowers bring vibrancy to the garden and beautify our cakes. For this we thank the Goddess Flora, commemorated by the Romans at the end of the month and the Goddess Oestre for the new life we can watch unfolding before our eyes.