Memories of growing up on a farm in Co Kildare, coupled with her experiences through AgriKids, a farm safety educational platform for children and teachers, have inspired Alma Jordan’s latest book series, entitled Hazel Tree Farm.
The first title in the series, Blue the Brave by Jordan, published by O’Brien Press and illustrated by Margaret Anne Suggs, tells real-life stories from her childhood, along with moments shared by the children she meets through her work.
Jordan carved a successful career in communications and marketing before establishing AgriKids, an award-winning social enterprise, in 2015, which aims to “spread the message of farm safety in a fun and engaging way”.
Speaking to That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, Alma Jordan, who lives on a farm in Meath with her husband, Mark, and son, Eamon, about her latest book series, remarked:
“It all started just before Covid-19 when O’Brien Press reached out to me on the back of my previous self-published book series, Tales from Riverside Farm.”
“I launched these back in 2015 when I first started AgriKids, and they have sold thousands of copies.”
“Many children and their parents still approach me today asking about them as well as finding new readers and audiences.”
“O’Brien Press wanted to meet with me to discuss some ideas, and I was delighted, as from my work with AgriKids, many teachers loved the existing books as they really encouraged the children to read and keep on reading.”
“In fact, one third class teacher told me how The Red Tractor book had been read over and over by some of her most reluctant readers.”
“This really got me thinking and asking why the vast majority of farm books cater only for young children and toddlers.”
“Older children, it seemed, were also interested in stories set on farms, but they simply didn’t exist. This was a wasted opportunity and one I felt I had some insight and ability to do something about.
Jordan insists that her own farming roots have been “a key” in this series, growing on a farm on Hazelhatch Road in Celbridge with two siblings.
Her older brother is a full-time tillage and beef farmer alongside her father, who still actively farms.
“My younger sister and myself were involved in much of the animal care, and it was the norm for our mother to catch us mucking out stables or throwing silage into cattle while still in our school uniforms,” she laughed.
“It was a very happy childhood, and from my travels with AgriKids, I have met so many children whose own stories and questions have also inspired these books.”
“Those living on a farm or with access to farms delight in the farm safety workshops as they feel they can talk about something that is familiar to them while other children get to hear more about real farm life, experiences of their own classmates and little by little that disconnect that I see so vividly between farm and non-farm life is somewhat bridged.”
“The books are for an audience of 9+ – regardless of what they know about farm life, it does not matter; they will enjoy these tales. “
“The stories are about childhood and relationships with families, animals and communities. I do not shy away from the real aspects of farm life, as it is all life-related and something that needs to be talked about.”
”Many events in the book can happen to you regardless of background.”
“The next in the series is due out in autumn of this year, and I would love the chance to do another one.”
“I believe there are some many adventures to be told, and these characters have a such great capacity to inspire, entertain and capture the imagination of their readers,” she concluded.
You can purchase a copy of the book through this link.
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