The Sweetest Treat: The story of peaches, labor, and Maxine Lundgren Clark Allen
The Colorado Foundation for Agriculture, the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant, and The Fence Post magazine are bringing the sweetness of agriculture to classrooms in the 2022 Literacy Project book, The Sweetest Treat.
The foundation selects a book annually to facilitate agriculture education for students in grades K through sixth across the state through the Literacy Project. Read in classrooms by volunteers from the agriculture community, the foundation also provides curriculum and accompanying materials for educators. Volunteers visit classrooms to read and talk about their own agriculture operations and each classroom receives a copy of the book.
The 2022 book is written by The Fence Post magazine assistant editor Rachel Gabel and illustrated by engagement editor Liz Banman Munsterteiger. The Sweetest Treat is made possible through a grant from the Bessie Minor Swift Foundation and a Specialty Crop Block grant.
The book tells the story of peaches and farm labor and the story of Maxine Lundgren Clark Allen. Allen was long involved in the family’s orchard business and spoke nationally about agriculture labor and the peach business.
Agricultural labor remains top of mind for the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association members. Executive Director Marilyn Bay Drake, an author herself, said the timing is relevant.
“I love Rachel Gabel’s telling of Maxine’s story through her recipe box,” Bay Drake said. “The themes of kindness and service to those who labored with the family is refreshing and so very relevant for today in Colorado. This is a simple but important story that recognizes an amazing woman. Children and adults will love this book. May it spark conversations on kindness in our homes, schools and beyond.”
Munstertieger, who grew up in the ranching community of Kremmling, used reference photos generously provided by the Palisade Historical Society and many of the families whose roots run deep in the orchards of Palisade. Munsterteiger has worked in agriculture news for The Fence Post magazine and Tri-State Livestock News since 2005. She lives on the Front Range with her three children and husband. Munsterteiger also illustrated Still Good: The Faces of Family Agriculture.
The assistant editor of The Fence Post magazine, Gabel wrote extensively about agriculture labor during the most recent legislative session and throughout the labor shortages and processing gluts brought on by the pandemic. Telling the tale of ag labor through Allen’s story, she said, illustrates how important and valued ag laborers are to the industry whether they’re picking peaches, processing meat, or driving combines.
The book includes educational materials and accompanying curriculum information will be made available to participating educators through the Colorado Foundation for Agriculture. As part of the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant and in participation with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, participating classrooms will be afforded the opportunity to taste peach juice in addition to hearing and seeing the book, and hearing about agriculture from a program volunteer.
The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation awards grants to programs that promote literacy, reading, and writing skills with the goal of contributing to an informed and active citizenry by supporting programs that promote literacy and educational enrichment within communities served by Swift Communications, the parent company of The Fence Post and Tri-State Livestock News. In 2021, 34 awards were granted for a total of $81,519.73, including the Colorado Foundation for Agriculture.
The Colorado Foundation for Agriculture is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational corporation and works with industry partners to help meet the shared vision of advancing Colorado agricultural literacy. The foundation provides Agriculture in the Classroom resources and programs to Colorado educators and students, many of which are free or at minimal cost. Sign up for the spring Literacy Project will soon be available at growingyourfuture.com.
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