Sunday, November 21, 2010
Up We Grow! Written by Deborah Hodge and photographed by Brian Harris. Kids Can, 2010. $16.95 ages 6 and up
We are hearing more and more about the benefits of buying local, of eating more fruits and vegetables, and of providing support for the people who live and work in our communities. The emphasis for this new nonfiction book is on farming practices that benefit the environment, on maintaining the land so that it can continue providing for our needs and on encouraging a lasting love for nature. The small farm described here gets its life from a group of dedicated farmers who make up the Glen Valley Organic Farm Cooperative in Abbotsford, British Columbia.
These farms that we have the opportunity to visit through the lens of photographer Brian Harris are small and very productive. Our journey begins in spring, with robins and newborns, and plowing and planting. There is always much to be done on a working farm. Deborah Hodge reminds us that:
"Almost everything we eat begins as a plant that grows in the soil, or as an animal that eats the plants that grow in the soil. Fruits, vegetables, wheat, milk, eggs and meat all come from the land. When farmers take care of the land, they are also taking care of our food."
She describes the many tasks that must be undertaken in spring to ensure that the food needed will be there when it comes time for harvest. These foods will be used by humans and animals to keep them healthy and strong. Each season brings more work. The jobs are described and green fact boxes add to the information shared. We learn that healthy foods make for a healthier family, that farmers have an important role to play in the life of a community and that we all must work to assure a bright and healthy future.
Children who read this book will see the connections between the food that they eat and the places that supply it. It is a great nonfiction readaloud for early years classrooms, and will encourage much discussion. If you are planning a field trip to a nearby farm, it would be a perfect introduction to some of the work that children might see happening during their visit.
The photos are clear and very informative. Children get a distinct picture of the daily routines on a working farm. They also exhibit the joy that the workers feel in oprerating a farm that will serve so many. It is hopeful in tone, and encourages children to learn as much as they can about their role in maintaining the land, and loving nature. In the end, we will all benefit from that!