Potatoes On Rooftops
By Hadley Dyer
Published by Annick Press, September 2012
This one, Potatoes On Rooftops, is a vibrant, attractive book which aims to encourage urban youngsters to have a go at producing their own food, no matter where in the world or how unlikely their environment might initially seem for this endeavour.
Hadley Dyer has managed to produce a book which is attractive, inspiring and chock full of information aimed squarely at children. Presented in easily assimilable “soundbites”, each double page spread will make children think about where they live, what they eat and how they can adapt and improvise to “grow their own”. Children are perfectly capable of taking on board sometimes complex concepts such as food miles and the importance of sourcing things locally to keep both costs and the impact on environmental resources to a minimum, and getting children used to this way of doing things will undoubtedly pay dividends to communities in future years. History is thrown in too, describing how during both World Wars, people were encouraged to grow their own and “Dig For Victory” to make the best use of scarce resources.
Vegetables can be grown in bottles, boots and buckets as well as in plant pots on windowsills, balconies of flats, in the gardens of houses, and even – in the case of one group of enterprising children in Tokyo – in an underground bank vault, which they turned into a hydroponic greenhouse! Poultry can be kept on rooftops as well as in gardens, and in many cities, chickens are legally considered pets. Consequently, it is acceptable to use them to produce eggs, but in most parts of the developed world, they cannot be killed for food purposes.
A huge amount of information is crammed into the book, including how cities can actually be environmentally friendly, and how to reduce global warming by “cooling down” cities. Water harvesting and usage is described, and the social impact of food producing is considered, along with using schools to teach young people to grow their own food.
This is a timely and quite remarkable book, of interest and value no matter where in the world the young readers – and their parents and teachers - may live.