Part engaging conversation, part comprehensive fieldwork, Growing a Life demonstrates just how influential school and community gardening programs can be for adolescents. Readers follow author Illene Pevec as she travels from rural Colorado to inner New York City, and from agrarian New Mexico to urban Oakland, California, to study remarkable youth gardening programs for at-risk teens. Expressive candid interviews with more than eighty students, substantiated by relevant neuroscience research and a framework of positive psychology, explain the life-altering physical and emotional benefits of gardening. As students share their experiences tending the soil and the plants, feeding their families and their communities, and guiding younger children, readers are given the opportunity to examine the largely unexplored topic of mentored urban gardening. Growing a Life will inspire educators, community leaders, and youth to team up and establish community gardens where they do not already exist and to involve youth in existing gardens. "
Gardening has changed my perspective in a whole lot of ways. . . . I have applied that to my family, and I taught them. And they were proud of me. Not only was I not on the streets, I was doing something positive for my community." - Julio, 18, gardening since age thirteen with Oakland Leaf
Dr. Illene Pevec, PhD., is a researcher for the Children, Youth and Environments Center for Research and Design, University of Colorado Boulder, as well as program director for Fat City Farmers, a local food education program in Basalt, Colorado. She is best known for her work in community youth gardens, which began in 1998 during graduate studies at the University of British Columbia. Pevec helped develop a large, award-winning community garden at a Vancouver elementary school. Dr. Pevec also brought her research with youth gardening to her native country of Brazil, where she founded A Child's Garden of Peace in Sao Borja, Rio Grande do Sul, a series of community gardens for youth of all ages, as well as adult volunteers. She produced a documentary by the same name, A Child's Garden of Peace about her work in Brazil, which toured international festivals from 2005-2006 and appeared on PBS's Natural Heroes series. During doctorate work at the University of Colorado, she helped develop the Roaring Fork High School and Yampah Mountain High School Gardens. Pevec has published numerous scholarly papers as well as popular articles, including for Green Teacher Magazine. She frequently lectures at conferences, such as the American Horticultural Society's annual National Children & Youth Garden Symposium, and was keynote presenter for the Evergreen Canada School Garden Conference. Growing a Life is Dr. Pevec's first book.