AFBF Foundation Book winner collage

AFB Foundation’s Book of the Year features Thomas Jefferson’s love of gardening

To this day Founding Father Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello gardens in Virginia are the envy of green thumbs all over the world. It is little wonder, then, that a book highlighting his horticultural success would be honored as this year’s American Farm Bureau Foundation’s Book of the Year.

Peas growing
Early spring peas sprouting at Monticello. © Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, photo by Robert Llewellyn

Author Susan Grigsby’s “First Peas to the Table” is an illustrated book for school children that explores Jefferson’s love for gardening while encouraging children, parents and teachers to cultivate a love of gardening and agriculture.

One of the many ways Jefferson’s legacy lives on today is through a pea growing contest held in schools across the commonwealth of Virginia and throughout the country every year. Jefferson grew many fruits and vegetables but peas were his favorite. He planted more than 130 varieties of them, and these contests challenge all students to care for the pea crops. The winning school has the “first peas” that mature from their labors.

The foundation also has a School Garden Ag Mag to accompany the “First Peas to the Table” book and a school has shared its lesson plan and observation worksheet. Visit the foundation’s blog for more information about Jefferson’s love of peas, the pea growing contests, recipes and fun facts about peas.

The Book of the Year award involves identifying accurate ag books, a collection of nearly 500 for children, teenagers and adults.

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Amy Graves 

Amy Graves is a communications specialist for Ohio Farm Bureau.