Harvest Home

by Richard G. Johnstone Jr., Exec. Editor

Richard Johnstone

It was Autumn, and incessant piped the quails from shocks and sheaves, And, like living coals, the apples burned among the withering leaves.              — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 19th-century American poet

Swing the shining sickle,

Cut the ripening grain;

Gather in the harvest,

Fall is here again.  

            — Traditional


Come, ye thankful people, come;

Raise the song of Harvest-home;

All is safely gathered in,

ere the winter storms begin.  

            — Henry Alford, 19th-century English theologian


In harvest time, harvest folk,

servants and all,

should make altogether

good cheer in the hall.  

            — Thomas Tusser, 16th-century English poet and farmer


Ah, October. Balmy, blue-sky days. Flaming trees. Brisk nights. Crisp apples. A change in the weather, and preparations for the winter to come.


Fall reminds us that the calendar year, which seemed so expansive in May, is in fact fleeting. It teaches us to expect change, and to enjoy the moment, enjoy the harvest, “ere the winter storms begin.” And the harvest, of course, is almost always the result of labor borne by many hands.


And that’s exactly how, and why, cooperatives work: everyone shares in the effort, and everyone benefits from the result. So it’s only natural that October would be Cooperative Month, a wonderful time to reflect on how this form of business that stresses local ownership and local control ends up helping

millions of people across the globe save money, time and effort every day.


Cooperatives are a strong but often silent presence in our lives, meeting needs as diverse as banking and babysitting, food and housing, commodities and communications, and, of course, electricity. Your electric cooperative is one of over 900 spread across 47 American states, each one locally owned, locally controlled, and dedicated to providing its member-consumers with the best possible service at the lowest possible cost, every minute of every day.


As we’ve discussed in these pages many times over many years, each cooperative is unique, and yet each one is united with all the others by a shared commitment to Seven Cooperative Principles. These seven principles are:


voluntary and open membership;


democratic member control;


economic participation by the members;


autonomy and independence;


a commitment to member education


cooperation among cooperatives; and


concern for community.  


This last principle captures the heart of the business philosophy of each cooperative, which is to improve the quality of life for its member-consumers and the communities in which they live.


So during this Cooperative Month, enjoy your own unique “harvest home,” the fruits of your year’s and life’s labors. We all have much to celebrate, from freedoms unimaginable to most of the residents of this planet, to family ties and friendships that remind us of life’s real treasures. As we pause to ponder our blessings, let’s be sure also to “make altogether good cheer in the hall.” Winter’s coming. Enjoy the moment!


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