The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture is launching a children’s publishing venture aimed at providing young readers with information and stories about where their food comes from. Feeding Minds Press will publish its first book, Right This Very Minute by Lisl Detlefsen, in January 2019.
The press, which will publish two to three books a year, is a direct response to the educational needs of the foundation, according to director of education and outreach Julia Recko. In the past AFBFA has sought out newly published children’s books that show how food is grown, farmed, and cultivated. In recent years, Recko said, “It’s become more and more difficult to discover books that meet our specific needs.”
Instead of seeing the lack of titles as an impediment, Recko said the foundation took it as an opportunity. “There are few other industries in which the place you live, the place you work, and the place you gather with your family and share experiences and stories are one in the same. What better way to share these unique stories than to publish them?”
Feeding Minds’ first books will be illustrated fiction titles, but the publisher wants the underlying message to be nonfictional information. “We assume children know, or that they will grow up and figure out, that food doesn’t originally come from the store,” Recko said. “But what if they don’t? According to a 2017 study, 16.4 million American adults think that chocolate milk comes from brown cows. We have always known that there is a real disconnect between consumer and producer, but a statistic like that indicates it’s worse than we thought.”
Illustrated by Renée Kurilla, Right This Very Minute tells the story of the work going on at any given moment to bring food to people every day. Detlefsen, who lives on a family farm and has previously published books with Knopf and Roaring Brook, said in a statement, “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with a new company that is devoted to the accurate depiction of modern farming and the dedicated people who grow our food.”
The press is planning its first list with help from publishing consultants Emma Dryden and Michael Spradlin. Manuscript submissions are currently open through the publisher’s website. Recko said an announcement on distribution is forthcoming.