Potatoes on Rooftops: A fantastic resource for growing food advocates

Potatoes on Rooftops: Farming in the City is a great resource for people doing food literacy and garden education programming with children and youth in an urban context. This kid-friendly book by Hadley Dyer gives a great overview the reasons to garden in the city and in what ways it is possible.

This book looks at farming in the city as a way to connect youth to food issues and to foster a sense of food justice in an audience that may not understand the basics of the causes of hunger and poverty. This resource not only describes concepts such as food security, food miles, and food deserts but also explains some of the social complexities around food access in the city. It also offers options for innovative and viable solutions to these complex social problems. By showing concrete examples of some successful urban agriculture projects as well as the massive potential for urban agriculture in the city this resource is extremely comprehensive without being overwhelming. It offers a variety of solutions and garden designs to meet different purposes. Ultimately, this resource offers the hope of delightful and engaging green spaces in the city that have the potential to feed and empower people as well as combat a variety of climate change and sustainability issues.

Not only would this serve as a good resource for food organizations to expand their educational mandate throughout the city but it would also be a good resource for teachers aiming to teach food literacy programming in their classrooms. It would be a great introductory resource for schools not already reached by organizations like Green Thumbs Growing Kids or The Stop Community Food Centre and their Grade 5 program or Food Leadership for Youth (FLY) program, which offer food literacy and garden programming for children in a particular catchment area but would also be a useful supplemental resource for these organizations. As an educational resource this book allows for collaborative and problem solving oriented learning. It makes important curriculum connections while fostering a social awareness within students of all different learning styles. It is also very visually engaging.

Potatoes on Rooftops allows youth to connect with social issues in a way that provides concrete solutions and an easy way to engage and feel like they are contributing to something. It has the potential to foster a sense of civic engagement and neighbourhood responsibility in youth who may just be learning the importance of having a community to connect to in a larger city.

This is an excellent resource, supported by Toronto Public Health and the Food Strategy Team as well as by FoodShare, and I am excited to see it in use across the city in the future.

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