IT'S OUR GARDEN
From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden
by George Ancona
Want to grow what you eat and eat what grow?
Join students, volunteers, teachers, and community members as they design, plan, plant, tend, and harvest a bountiful garden on the grounds of the Acequia Madre Elementary School in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Everyone has a part to play in making the garden flourish as the seasons turn--they choose and plant seeds in the spring, water and weed in the summer, harvest vegetables in the fall, and prepare the garden beds for the cold winter. Even the wiggling worms in the compost pile have a job to do! And on special days, neighborhood folks gather to help out and savor the bounty.
Part celebration, part simple how-to, this close-up look at a vibrant garden--and its enthusiastic gardeners--is blooming with photographs that will have readers ready to roll up their sleeves and dig in.
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2013
Age Level: 5 and up
"In photographs and clear prose, Ancona follows the children at the Acequia Madre Elementary School in Santa Fe as they cultivate a school garden. Photographs show the students composting, planting, raising butterflies, and engaged in other activities. In addition to being a source of food, the garden becomes an outdoor classroom; on weekends and during the summer, members of the community gather in the garden to listen to music and make vegetable pizzas in the horno (an abode oven). As autumn approaches, the students harvest cabbage (“Their long, strong roots test the strength and stamina of some of the bigger kids”), lemon cucumbers, and strawberry corn, which they use to make popcorn. The documentary-style narrative and uplifting photos put the joy of kinship, outdoor work, and growing food within reach of readers."
- Publisher's Weekly
"Ancona takes readers on a yearlong tour of one Santa Fe, N.M., school garden.
The garden at Acequia Madre Elementary School will no doubt give rise to the little green monster in the hearts of more than a few educators. Complete with an outdoor classroom, greenhouse, composting area, and some local college students to pitch in and help, it is an enviable addition to the campus. Students are involved in all aspects of the garden: They help plan it, plant the seeds, transplant seedlings, mulch and water and compost the beds, raise butterflies to pollinate the garden, make adobe bricks to line garden beds, coat the horno (a traditional oven) in new adobe, harvest the fruits and vegetables, and prepare the garden for winter. In the summertime, the community comes together for gatherings in the garden, many of which involve eating the produce. Color photographs give educators something to drool over, while charming artwork done by the kids dots the pages. While there are some educational tidbits scattered in the text--for example, how plants are pollinated--this is less a gardening book for children than a book for those educators who want to go from the dreaming stage to the planning and doing stages...and who want to involve their students in the process.
It's sure to bring out the green thumb of many an educator, and it just may provoke some kids to get out in their own yards and make a garden.
- Kirkus Reviews
"An entire multicultural community gets involved in a year-long school garden project and enjoys the fresh food their children grow from seed to harvest. From the nitty gritty of taking turns to take the garbage out to the compost and stir it around with latex-gloved hands to the sublime pleasure of enjoying the popcorn they grew, all of their activities are described and illustrated. The writing brings the project to life by including sounds ("the school bell sounds and the classrooms explode with the noise of books closing, chairs sliding on the floor and kids chattering"); touch (you can almost feel the little worms, ladybugs, pill bugs and gooey mud pictured on the students' hands); taste (sampling the radishes and throwing them on the compost heap); and smell (the sizzling pizza baking in the outdoor adobe oven the community made). Crisp, clear, full-color photographs are interspaced with the children's crayon drawings. This fun and inspiring season-by-season description of a school gardening project could encourage others to repeat this extraordinary experience."
- School Library Journal
"Intrigued by school gardens near his home in New Mexico, respected writer-photographer Ancona visited one many times, watching and photographing children at work alongside their friends, teachers, and families. This large-format book follows the development of the garden and the students' responses to it, from plans to planting to watering to harvest. In addition to learning about plants, children encounter a number of critters—bees and butterflies that pollinate the plants, as well as insects and snakes that are just passing through. Eventually, the garden becomes a shared experience and a gathering place for the broader school community. The clearly written text works seamlessly with the two kinds of color illustrations: Ancona's many effective photos record the garden experience over the course of the growing season, while the children's drawings (in crayon or marker) offer a fresh counterpoint to his engaging photos. An inviting introduction to school gardens."
- Booklist Review