A Patch From Scratch by Megan Forward
was Shortlisted for Crichton Award for New Illustrators and was Notable for Picture Book of the Year Children’s Book Council Awards 2017. As well as being Shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Australia 2016 Book of the Year: Five to 8 Years.
When I moved into my house, one of the first things I did was plant myself some fruit trees (red grapefruit, kaffia lime, lemon, lime, apple, mandarin, and a hybrid tree of unknown origin from my brother that I will identify when it fruits) because I’m not a natural gardener…and don’t really enjoy it or want to spend all my time weeding and doing garden things. But, I wanted something that would be useful (I love fruit and cooking with fruit) but also something that would encourage bees and birds to my house especially since I’m in a newer area. I know I will never be a person who spends my free time creating garden beds and composting or growing enough fruits and vegetables to bring in to work to share. But, even I wanted to create a patch from scratch.
See my awesome segway into this book – A Patch From Scratch, all about a family (told through the youngest child) who wants to be more self-sufficient and more ‘farm-like’ on their suburban block. The book takes you through their whole journey from idea to planning, implementation, and the way it involves more people than just their immediate family, as well as the way it can impact on their sense of community with neighbours. We have a few people that work at the library who have chickens, harvest honey, grow lots of fruits and vegetables in their backyard and as I read this book I thought about all of them.
This book could fit in as a narrative non-fiction (meaning it tells a story but does so truthfully and with facts interspersed). But, we have put it in the picture book (junior kindergarten) section because this book deals with one of those topics that, in my opinion, becomes more important the further we get away from the agricultural society we once were. Talking to children about where their food comes from is a bit part of making them aware of their world and the impact they can have on it, and the way our habits affect people who own a farm hundreds or thousands of kilometres from where we live.
But, this book might also be the inspiration behind your own little garden at your home.
If you have small spaces: The Little Veggie Patch Co. : how to grow food in small spaces by Fabian Capomolla and Mat Pember
Or, if you want more information specifically about involving children in the process: The Garden Cook : grow, cook and eat with kids by Fiona Inglis
Throughout the book there are spots of additional information supplied about the layout (simple maps), illustrations telling us how compost works, why worms are important, and detailing the strawberry diary that our main character keeps, as well as further reading and information at the back. I am no longer a practicing teacher but this is the perfect type of book to build a theme around and allows the class, or family, to make their own compost heap, look into companion planting (and thereby learn from those who came before), plant a garden, look at safe, sustainable, and natural pest management, and then enjoy the fruits, and vegetables, of your labour.
I’m giving this book 4.5 stars out of 5 because of the sheet potential I can see coming out of reading it.
I did manage, with very little effort or know how to grown onions and capsicums…