Sopris Sun Staff Report
Explore Booksellers in Aspen holds a book signing for Illène Pevec and her new book “Growing a Life: Teen Gardners Harvest Food, Health and Joy” at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 23.
In the book, published by New Village Press, Pevec features interviews with more than 80 youth, illustrating how mentored gardening programs help young people, and especially those from underprivileged neighborhoods, to build nurturing and thriving community environments, improve their mental and physical health, and open their eyes to previously unseen opportunities.
The book provides adolescent organic gardeners and farmers the platform to articulate their experiences, feelings and transformations as they grow food for themselves and their communities. These teens hail from programs in New York, New Mexico, Colorado and California. As they share their experiences tending the soil and plants, feeding their families and their communities, and mentoring younger children, these youths use their powerful—but too often ignored and underemphasized—voices to show readers the value of gardening in the lives of urban youth, as well as what specific aspects of the programs described have the greatest positive impacts.
Illène Pevec is program director for Fat City Farmers, a local food education program in Basalt and a former researcher for the Children, Youth and Environments Center for Research and Design, University of Colorado. She is best known for her work in community youth gardens and has helped develop award-winning community and school gardens in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and her native Brazil. She has authored numerous scholarly papers, as well as articles for popular magazines like Green Teacher. She lectures and keynotes at conferences, including the American Horticultural Society’s annual National Children & Youth Garden Symposium and the Evergreen Canada’s School Garden Conference.
“This is an astonishing book! It will inspire you from the first sentence no matter how long you’ve been involved in the garden world. Because of Dr. Illène Pevec’s research, I am beginning to understand what lies beneath our need to grow plants – and that’s after almost 40 years promoting urban agriculture. Read this book!”
—Mike Levenston, Executive Director, City Farmer Society, Vancouver, BC.
“Timely, well-written, and easy to read for people interested in urban agriculture, youth development, and social justice issues. The combination of narrative, personal anecdote, and more scholarly research presents a convincing case for more programs like the ones in this book.”
—Jody Beck, Assistant Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Colorado, Denver.
“This book shines a spotlight on youths’ transformational experiences in their urban school gardens, and uses their own words to clearly illustrate the power of nurturing living things to change children’s lives for the better—improving their health, their connections to their communities, and their empathy and care for the Earth.”
—Sharon Danks, founding director, Green Schoolyards America
“Illène Pevec offers her expertise and insight into the profoundly good effects of youth gardening programs on the lives of young adults, and her most powerful evidence is in the honest voices of the teens themselves. This is a terrific book.”
—Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and Vitamin N
“This book makes a strong case that well designed gardening programs promote positive youth development. Exactly how they do this is explained by young people in their own words: words that amplify the research that Pevec reviews. The eloquence of the adolescents who share their feeling and experiences in these pages is deeply moving and inspiring.”
—Louise Chawla, Professor Emerita, Environmental Design Program, University of Colorado.
Published in The Sopris Sun on September 22, 2016.