Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, July 29, 2013

Potatoes on Rooftops by Hadley Dyer

Potatoes on Rooftops: farming in the City
Hadley Dyer
Annick Press. 2012
ISBN: 9781554514250
Grades 3 and up
I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library.

Did you know that city dwellers can grow food too?

In Potatoes on Rooftops: Farming in the City author Hadley Dyer will show you there are a myriad of doable possibilities to having your own garden; anything is possible.

Using a friendly tone, Dyer packs a lot of information into this 82 page tome. She includes facts, backstory about the urban gardening movement, and plenty of inspiration and large color photos that will have readers eager to start.

The book is divided into four parts. Part 1: Hungry Cities explains the cost of importing food to cities and shares statistics on how even in the US, the distance between home and grocery store can make eating at  fast food restaurants a more affordable option.

Part 2: Plant a Seed gives some background on urban farming. From Ye Olde Victory Gardens to community gardens to people planting food on their rooftops,  if there is a will then there is probably a way.

Green Your City, Part 3: offers suggestions on how people all over the world can find solutions. You can plant a garden, raise chickens, make compost, or harvest water. The possibilities are plentiful.

Part 4: Your Green Thumb. Small actions can add up to sweeping changes. And sometimes when you take action for one reason, you discover all kinds of others you hadn’t considered before.

The information presented in Potatoes on Rooftops is not limited to the US, but offers a world-wide perspective. For example, in Part 4 we read how an old garbage dump in the neighborhood of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya became a home to more than a million people. It is one of the poorest neighborhoods in the world. Disgusted by the filth, a group of young people in their late 20’s took 105 days to clean up the filth from an area of the slum and then turned that space into a small farm.

The design offers short, informative bursts of information surrounded by color photos that have captions or informational sidebars bursting with more facts and information. Included is a glossary, resources on how to start your own urban farm, websites, and index. 

For a classroom activity, first read Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman then share Potatoes on Rooftops and It’s Our Garden: from seed to harvest in a school garden by George Ancona

Reviewed by Louise


  1. I just heard a wonderful piece on NPR about farming in Detroit the other day! Thanks for this.

    1. You are welcome, Anna. Maybe Detroit has a new future in farming.

  2. I love this! Have you seen the TEDTalk about farming at a school in the worst part of the Bronx? I can give you the link if you can't find it.