Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Potatoes on Rooftops, written by Hadley Dyer. Annick Press, 2012. $14.95 ages 10 and up
"Sometimes the answer to a big problem comes in a tiny package. Micro-gardens are small gardens for people (maybe like you!) who don't have enough space for a full-size plot. They're also less physically demanding, which makes them easier for kids, senior citizens, and people with physical disabilities."
This is another of those nonfiction books that I thought I could skim through and enjoy without reading every word written. WRONG! I should have known that anything Hadley Dyer writes is thoughtful, helpful and packs a punch. So, here I am a bit smarter and a having spent a good deal of time learning about new ways to grow what we eat! How important is that personally, and also for the planet?
The first part of the book takes a look at how living in a city makes a difference to where our food comes from, and how far we are from the source of much of what we eat. Often for people who have little income, they spend most of it on food; too often, this food is more expensive, pre-packaged and lacks nutrients needed for good health:
"What's so terrible about your meal collecting miles? Transporting foods long distances requires a lot of fuel. All those trucks and planes also belch a lot of pollution and greenhouse gases into the air, contributing to global warming. As well, spending lots of time in storage causes fruits and vegetables to lose nutrients. Some research has shown a loss of 30 to 50 percent over a 5- to 10-day- period."
Not so appealing once you know that! This first part sets the reader up with the information needed to understand why there has been such growth in sustainability.
In the second part, Ms. Dyer helps us understand and recognize the many different benefits that come from learning how to grow some of our own food. There are so many innovative ways to use the space available to grow healthy, hearty food for your family and to share with others. We need to change our thinking about use of space, and the satisfaction that comes from feeding ourselves with food grown nearby. There are many ways to be successful:
"Community gardens are places in the city where people can get together to grow food and other plants. They add green space to neighborhoods and can make a world of difference in a food desert, where fresh produce is hard to come by."
So many ideas are offered, you will be sorry that the end of this growing season is near. But, it will give you a chance to consider over the cold months ahead how you might change what you are doing now, and find new ways to grow a garden next spring and summer.
Part three helps readers understand the value of growing food and the benefits it brings to the environment as well. Preserving produce, building cold frames, even keeping small animals in the city to supplement a family's food supply are discussed. It's quite informative to see how people around the world do the same things:
"Like some people, pigs will eat just about anything. In Mexico City, many people keep pigs in their backyards, feeding them leftover food, such as stale tortillas from restaurants, stores, bakeries, and their own kitchens. More than 3,629 t (4,000 tons) of kitchen waste goes into pigs instead of landfills."
Now, that is recycling, isn't it?
In part four we are asked to consider the world we live in as we plan to make a difference in our own neighborhoods. It's an easy thing to do, and so worth your while. It begins at home and can reach out to school, to the area you live in, and finally to your wider community. Many hands make light work, and small steps make big changes. If you grow it, you might even be able to sell it to someone who wants fresh produce, and doesn't have the means to do it alone. Groups around the world are establishing themselves and helping others learn about sustainable living. It's of huge importance!
"As you've seen, you can accomplish so much when you have an appetite for change. And the more you do, the more you can do! Use your positive experiences to inspire other people, whether they're your classmates, neighbors, or city council."
Looking for an idea for real research in social studies and science. Hadley Dyer provides much needed information to get you started. The more knowledge the children in your classrooms have, the bigger the impact they can have on the community. A map of an 'edible city' is a fascinating one, and would provide a model for research and planned action. It is followed by a glossary, websites, a list of further resources and an index. You would do well to get your hands on this book if you have an interest in growing your own, or teaching others why it is important to consider. Now, get growing!