Fourth-grade students at Tanner School giggled as they listened to the magical journey of picky-eater Phineas Quinn who traveled to farms in a flying tomato balloon with Mr. Mattoo.
Phineas is the main character in “Who Grew My Soup?” a storybook the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation (AFAF) donated to more than 900 public and private elementary school libraries in the state.
“Right now, book donations are everything to school libraries,” said Tanner School assistant librarian Donna Hammett. “That’s basically how we survive because we don’t have a budget to buy books.”
Limestone County Farmers Federation’s Women’s Leadership Committee member Donnis Looney delivered the donated book to the Tanner School library and read the story to the visiting class. Students were full of questions for Donnis and her husband, Paul, the Limestone County Farmers Federation president.
“What does edible mean?” one student asked.
“If ketchup is made of tomatoes, then what is mustard made of?” another one asked.
Their inquisitive minds are evidence the book encourages students to ask questions about food and is an effective way to share information about farming.
“Our main goal is to promote education in agriculture,” Paul said. “This is one way to do that. Children now are so removed from farming, we have to go through schools to teach them about where their food and fiber come from.”
“Who Grew My Soup?” is on the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture’s Accurate Ag Books list. It was reprinted in 2013 as part of the national Ag in the Classroom program.
“Many school-aged children have never been to a farm, and they don’t understand that food has to be grown by farmers before it’s delivered to a grocery store,” said Federation Women’s Leadership Division Director Kim Ramsey. “I think students will really enjoy this book because it introduces them to farming in a fun way. The story rhymes, and a lot of kids will relate to the main character.”
The AFAF supports and advances agriculture in the state by investing in education and research. In fiscal year 2013, the group helped sponsor the Junior Beef Expo Showmanship Contest in Montgomery and the Alabama Ag in the Classroom Summer Institute. It also provided more than 50 college students with scholarships through a new fund-matching program with participating county Federations.