'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 26 May 2014

Guest Post: Bianca C Ross - The Renaissance of the Backyard Veggie Patch

Kids' Book Review is delighted to welcome Bianca C Ross, the author of a wonderful new book, Herbert Peabody and his Extraordinary Vegetable Patch. Herbert Peabody is a farmer who is spreading the magic of growing food as he encourages children to discover the joys of cultivating their own backyard veggie patch.

A change is happening amongst us, and it is slowly gaining momentum. It starts small and sprouts, and then grows. It’s the renaissance of the backyard veggie patch! And it has come just in time.

Many studies cite that our children are confused about where their food comes from, and if we think about it, we can understand why. The convenience of the supermarket makes it easy for us to pick up perfectly shaped produce that is dirt-free, and that means our children no longer see the real source of their food.

Working in brand manager roles across dairy and juice companies, with a stint in the advertising industry, I witnessed this confusion first-hand. In research groups, some children weren’t sure where milk came from, others were surprised that fruit didn’t grow year-round. I saw some great ways for adults to re-connect with and grow their food, but there wasn’t all that much for little people.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a home with a backyard veggie patch and fruit trees. When I got married, my husband and I moved to a beautiful house and one of the first things we did was set up a small plot to grow veggies. The taste of homegrown produce is something that is very special.

And with this in mind, Herbert Peabody came to be. Herbie, as he is known to his family and friends, is a farmer who grows fruit and vegetables in his veggie patch at Mulberry Tree Farm. While he has an ethos of ‘Patch to Plate,’ he’s not overly moralistic or preachy. He just wants to share the magic of growing food. His niece and nephew come to stay with him for the school holidays, and all they want to is play phone games and watch TV. Herbie can’t understand why they know so little about vegetables, and it’s up to him to show them how amazing growing food actually is.

And there is something special about watching seeds sprout through the soil, and it’s wonderful to witness the joy that children feel when something they have been part of literally comes to fruition.

Studies show that children who are involved in growing their fruit and vegetables are far more likely to try them, and that’s something positive we can embrace.

While not all of us have room for a large vegetable patch, most of us have the space for one or two pots of vegetables, or a kitchen windowsill that’s perfect for a herb garden. When children play a part in growing their food, they learn about the responsibility of caring for the plants and foster a sense of pride when they the pick produce.

The trend for school veggie patches is fabulous. Children can learn the science of growing food as well as experience the taste of homegrown produce, making the connection between food and where it comes from very real. A number of foundations are helping to re-connect our children with where their food comes from, and this in turn benefits their knowledge about nutrition and health.

We all want the best for our children, and teaching them to grow their own food has so many benefits. And the best part about it is the delicious food that we can enjoy with our children!
Bianca C Ross has almost two decades' experience of marketing in food companies and advertising. She is the author of Herbert Peabody and His Extraordinary Vegetable Patch, a new children’s storybook that aims to reconnect kids with where their food comes from. Visit the Herbert Peabody website to find out more about Herbie and his friends. There are lots of great resources there including printable colouring pages and a guide to starting a backyard veggie patch. You can also find Herbie on Facebook.