spring reads

I wanted to point you in the direction of a few books we’ve had in our house lately. The first is more inspirational in flavor and the next more of a resource (recipes, planting). Both are available through the Fraser Valley Regional Library.

Edible Schoolyard by Alice Waters tells the inspiring story of the creation and flourishing of Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School’s schoolyard garden in Berkeley, California.

Waters is the founder of Chez Panisse restaurant – also of Berkeley – which is guided by the philosophy of serving ‘the most delicious organic products, only when they are in season.’

The transformation of an abandoned lot adjacent the school comes to life with full-page photos of the students working, learning and enjoying meals together. It is inspiring to see how their one acre vegetable garden, chicken coop, and school kitchen are integral to the core academic mission of the school.

One of my favorite parts of the book were photos of the student’s written work where each recounts a memorable cooking moment. Reading these reminded me of how impressionable kids are and how everyone connects with food in some way, even those considered ‘picky eaters.’

Waters states, “Right there, in the middle of every school day, lies time and energy already devoted to the feeding of children. We have the power to turn that daily school lunch from an afterthought into a joyous education, a way of caring for our health, our environment, and our community.”

I encourage you to pick up this book for a refreshing view of holistic education – one where children engage in some of the most basic activities of life — growing food and preparing it. In doing so, these children look at a whole range of subjects through events happening in the garden.

After you’ve checked out the book, you can head to http://www.edibleschoolyard.org/. Of particular note is the ‘resources’ page where they list publications available for creating an Edible Schoolyard of your own.

Another book that caught my eye here was Raising an Adventurous Eater: Ideas & Inspiration from the Edible Schoolyard which gives parents ten ways to help their children love healthy foods. 

Growing at the Speed of Life: A Year in the Life of My First Kitchen Garden by Graham Kerr.

Career chef Graham Kerr recounts the story of his first kitchen garden in a light and amiable way. Starting with his personal journey toward gardening and the resources he gathered to do so, he continues to list cooking methods and a glossary of gardening/growing terms. He then profiles 60 vegetables, fruits and herbs that one may grow or can find easily. Included throughout the book are over 100 recipes.

I found this an enjoyable read or flip through (what I did mainly). Most of the vegetables we grow were included in this book, so in that way it is a great resource for getting to know some of the vegetables that will be in your CSA Garden Box (there are a handful of recipes for each vegetable he highlights).

This book acts as both an introduction to gardening and a resources for home cooks although I don’t know how much I’d rely on this book for gardening advice. It’d be best to compare and consider a range of books (Eliot Coleman and Steve Solomon are some of our favorites).

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