MOOSE JAW — “A Harvest Story,” written by Kendall Wicks and published by Agriculture in the Classroom Saskatchewan (AITC-SK), recently launched in October, celebrating Agriculture month in Saskatchewan.
Wicks says the inspiration to write the book came from her son Ben, after he asked, “Mom, read me a combine story.” She decided to share stories of her childhood experiences during harvest on the Canadian Prairies. For ten years, she worked on the book written in poetry, and during the pandemic she finally published it.
“It was my mom who encouraged me to pursue publishing it,” she said.
Wicks' initial thought was to reach out to AITC-SK because she was already aware of the organization while working as a teacher at Cabri School.
At first, Wicks says she wrote a poem, and in time, she broke down the lines into pages in a book and worked around it to make it look like a story. She thinks rhyming is an interesting way to write stories for children. “Ben (my son) was learning to read so rhyme and repetition were a big part of what we were doing every night.”
Wicks narrated the story by breaking down her poem; the book contains vibrant colourful illustrations on each page that range from farmers combining, bees, a woman combining to reflect that all women who work on farms contribute to agriculture, to some personalized reflections on generational aspects of family on the farm.
Lesia Karalash illustrated the storybook, working alongside Wicks and Sara Shymko Executive director of AITC-SK over zoom meetings to discuss what each page of the book would look like. “It was extremely important to me that the illustrations were from Saskatchewan; Lesia was a perfect fit,” she said.
Wicks grew up on a grain farm, but over time her parents diversified to grow a variety of crops, although they never raised livestock.
Years later, she and her husband Mike, 13-year-old son Ben and their two dogs moved to the farm to take over the family business. After moving to the farm, she picked up her interest in beekeeping and raising silkie chickens.
Wicks wants young children to learn about how important farming is and how farmers grow crops. In the pages of the book, Wicks tries to relay how important it is for farmers to have faith in the process of seeding their crops to harvesting them, knowing that there is a great need to feed the world and not knowing exactly where their grain will end up.
She wants young children to be generous and grateful towards farmers, and encourages them to “Thank a farmer.”
Schools and teachers all over Saskatchewan are ordering the book and sharing it with their students to educate them about agriculture and food in Saskatchewan. The book is available and can be ordered on the AITC-SK’s official website.
“It is really important to me that this book was inclusive of all types of farms and families,” Wicks said.