en English

Holtville Students Work Up Appetite For Knowledge in Read With a Farmer

What a difference an interactive program can make in the life of a child when the printed word springs off the page and blooms like the plants that feed a nation. Such was the setting on Sept. 6 when the Meyer Memorial Library in Holtville hosted a “Read With a Farmer” session. Among those attending were Isaiah and Joseph Flores, two formerly shy Holtville children fortified with the curiosity needed to strengthen their knowledge. “They were very quiet when the program started but now they’ve made a lot of progress, participating more and I’m very proud of them,” said Norma Garcia, of Leslie Home Child Care, which provides after-school activities for children. Garcia brought a cohort of Finley Elementary School first- to fourth-grade students. “I love it when they said (in the story) they grew vegetables, because we have a garden at home and we’re growing sunflowers,” said Joseph, a garrulous second-grade student. “I have pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast but I liked the snacks we had today, cucumbers, oranges and strawberries.” “What’s that you say? You’re hungry? Right this very minute? … Then you need a farmer,” opens the story that enthralled the Finley students. The book, “Right This Very Minute,” was authored by Lisl Detlefsen and illustrated by Renee Kurilla. It was read in communities across the U.S. in honor of National Read a Book Day. Although dating back more than 20 years, Read With a Farmer was making only its second appearance in Imperial County, noted the day’s reader, Sarah Grizzle, a 2019 Holtville High School graduate. Sarah is the daughter of Kim Grizzle, a self-described farm parent whose husband runs Kevin Grizzle Farms, which does a brisk business in alfalfa, lettuce and carrots. Sarah explained she had read in the morning to Pine Elementary School students. “It went really well. Kids were excited and connected to where their food comes from and to their lives,” she said. “A lot of the kids have gardens and know how important fertilizers, water and the sun are.” Added her mother, Kim, “It’s all done in conjunction with the Imperial County Farm Bureau and University of California Desert Research and Extension Center. They ask farmers in the county to go to schools and libraries to read. It’s to teach the kids that farmers are part of their daily eating.” Also in attendance was Janie Rambo, Farm Bureau administrator/bookkeeper, who has just arrived in Imperial Valley with her boyfriend, Josh Fargo, who is an analyst with La Brucherie Farms. “We’re excited to teach the younger generation about agriculture and get them involved at a younger age,” said Rambo. “Most farmers are an older generation and we need the younger kids to fill their shoes to feed the nation.” Also delighted by the reading was Dalilah Martinez, a Finley second-grade student. She explained the story taught her farmers provide families with the food they eat and they do a lot of work, even on weekends and holidays. “But when I grow up, I want to be an artist,” said Dalilah. “I like to paint flowers, especially white roses.” Schoolmate Sebastian Castellon, a fourth grader, enjoyed the veggie snack he had at the library because it included cucumber. He said he also likes lettuce, tomatoes and carrots. “Sometimes I think I want to be a farmer, and sometimes I don’t,” said Sebastian. “I like to play Fortnite (video game). Maybe I could become a game designer.” Garcia praised the Meyer Library for hosting so many children’s pursuits because of its emphasis on books. “Especially with Lorenza Carpenter (library assistant)–we feel she has a lot of services directed toward the children,” said Garcia. “In the summer, the library is one of the best places to have activities for the children.”

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