Thursday, May 14, 2020

Hugh knows what to do....

Erosion: How Hugh Bennett Saved America's Soil and Ended the Dust Bowl 
by Darcy Pattison; illus. by Peter Willis
34 pages; ages 6 - 12
Mims House, June 2020

"Earth is a rock with a thin covering of soil. Once, people thought that the soil, or dirt, would be there forever," writes Darcy Pattison.

But in the 1930s, dust storms threatened to destroy America’s farms. The wind whipped soil away from fields, carrying it in thick, dark clouds from farmland into cities – even Washington DC. But Hugh Bennett knew how to save cropland, and he began teaching farmers about contour plowing and other soil conservation techniques.

What I like about this book: I like the fun internal rhyme of “Hugh knew what to do.” And the fight to pass a law creating the Soil Conservation Service. Too often we forget that soil is alive, and an integral part of our food production. Darcy includes back matter, too, with a story about the power of a water drip.

I emailed Darcy last week and she had time to answer One Question

Archimedes: Is there a take-away from Bennett's work that we can apply to current agricultural or environmental problems?

Darcy: Bennett was a man who deeply understood the earth, soil, agriculture, water and how everything is interconnected. Our situation today would be familiar to him. For example, across the globe, we have a major shift of water resulting in shortages and droughts in some areas, mixed with larger storms and floods in other areas. We need balance, and that only comes from looking at our environment globally as Bennett did. We need to listen to the scientists, who like Bennett, know what to do. We need to let them take action.

Bennett also knew how to step into a disaster and bring back balance, starting small. His team set up small projects, and within a couple years, they brought back farmlands from disaster. When I look at our mounting problems, he gives me hope. Hope that even small efforts matter, and hope that balance can be restored.

Darcy is a member of #STEAMTeam2020. You can find out more about her and the books she writes at her website. Review copy provided by the publisher.

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