A Patch from Scratch

Megan Forward

Artist /// Illustrator

My project is a children's picture book for 4-8 year olds called 'A Patch from Scratch' and workshops in conjunction with readings of the story. The story follows the adventures of a family living in an urban environment who want to live more sustainably. They set about raising chickens, building garden beds, collecting rainwater in tanks, researching organic methods, and recycling their garden waste and food scraps into compost and chook poo.

In the process the family begin to become more connected to the cycles of the seasons, and the earth beneath them. The story culminates in a neighbourhood feast to celebrate the harvest and thank all of those who contributed to the garden. My wish is to see more children and families connecting in to their communities through growing food, and engaged in sustainable environmental issues at a local level.

My workshops are held in schools, community garden groups, and bookshops, and I am in the process of organising them to be held in BCC libraries next year and through the QECSN (Queensland Early Childhood Sustainability Network). If I have an adult audience I begin with a short discussion of the broader issues surrounding my interest in writing 'A Patch from Scratch' such as food security, GMO food verses heirloom seeds, chemical free food, that Australia's arable land is mostly found near the coast where our cities are, the health of our ecosystem as well as our bodies, and that nature and our connection to it goes deeper than culture.

The children can follow their plants progress at home or school using a plant diary to record the changes they observe.

The workshops involve children doing charcoal drawings of fruit and vegetables, and teaching that drawing is about noticing detail - we cut cross sections of produce and talk about seeds and segments, the generosity of nature if you tend to it, the veins in leaves and photosynthesis, and looking at light and shadow. I then describe basic colour theory and the children apply watercolour to their drawings. The final activity is filling home made recycled origami newspaper planter pots with soil and planting seeds to take home with them, teaching them to care for them and to start their own 'patch from scratch'. The children can follow their plants progress at home or school using a plant diary to record the changes they observe. It’s lots of fun and I hope that in amongst the activities, these workshops are contributing to deeper environmental awareness and affinity.

Published by Penguin Random House March 2016 – Shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Awards, Visit the website for Teachers Notes and more about "A Patch from Scratch" http://meganforward.com/project/1650/