Review Blog

Jun 21 2017

A patch from scratch by Megan Forward

cover image

Penguin/Viking, 2016. ISBN 9780670078295
Living a country life in the city is an appealing prospect for many. Picking fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden bed instead of the supermarket shelves; having your own chooks to provide fresh eggs; recycling waste instead of sending it to landfill - all these things appeal to Jesse and his family and so they design, plan and develop their own patch from scratch.
Told from Jesse's perspective, the story chronicles what would seem to be a real-life experience that shows all the aspects of creating an edible garden in a suburban backyard. From Lewis' desire to grow beans like Jack of beanstalk fame, to Jesse's dream of fresh strawberries and even Mum's longing for chooks, each step is documented in text and illustrations that show what needs to be done in a way that draws the reader in and shows them that they can do it too. In fact, once they start it's amazing how many people become involved as seeds, seedlings and advice are shared and suddenly chores like weeding and watering become fun. Jesse starts a plant diary for his strawberries as he patiently waits for them to ripen. But why are there five not six? And what is happening to the tomatoes and lettuce, leaving holes in them? How can the patch be saved from the robbers?
As well as being so informative, particularly as more and more schools are developing kitchen gardens to supply the canteen, there are lots of other issues raised that will kickstart lots of investigations that should give greater understanding for the future of our planet. Why are bees critical? If pesticides wipe out bugs, what will the birds eat? How did people manage when there were no supermarkets? What happens to supermarket food when it is not bought? What are the essential elements that need to be included in the design of a chicken coop?
To round off the story, there is some really useful information and suggestions for finding out more as well as a flowchart of how the patch from scratch works. There is also a lot of information on the author's page for the book and at the Kitchen Garden Foundation which supports this concept in schools.
Identified as a CBCA 2017 Book of the Year Notable and with sustainability being one of the cross curriculum priorities of the Australian Curriculum this is an essential addition to both the home and school library as we look to a better, healthier future.
Barbara Braxton

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