OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

The Salsa Garden

This is a story about neighbors working together to grow and make a favorite snack.

Photo of Anne Taylor

Written by

My neighbor Bill

Has really long legs

And an old carton

With no more eggs

One day in Spring

We filled the carton with dirt

Pushed some seeds in

Then added water – squirt!

What are we doing?

I want to ask

As we work through

Our mystery task

Bill explains

It’s all for a treat

That in five months

Will taste so good to eat

He tells me how

The seeds will grow

But oh my goodness –

Why so very slow?

Plants take patience

And lots of sun

The passing time

Will be plenty of fun!

And so we watched

The sprouts come on out

When I first saw a flower

I gave a big shout!

One flower was followed

By many more

“They’re pretty,” I said

“But what are they for?”

“Well,” said Bill,

“First there’s a flower,

And then, soon after,

Some real veggie-power!”

Wow Bill was right

And I was amazed

Those plants grew tomatoes,

Cilantro, peppers for days!

One day in August

With Bill out of town

Something bad with the plants

Began to go down

Those top-heavy tomatoes

Started to drop

But don’t worry, Bill,

I gave them a prop!

By the time Bill returned

They were all good

And excitement was growing

In our neighborhood!

Finally we picked them,

Made the best of all dips

And together we ate

Our own salsa and chips!

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

This is intended as a fun story about a child learning where a favorite snack comes from, and working together with a neighbor. Based on the comments, I modified this to a rhyming story.

Share your suggested book title

The Salsa Garden

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

I reviewed the materials as instructed, and also relied on having read many books aloud with my two nephews (now 3 and 6). In putting the story together, I thought about what seemed to resonate with them as well as my favorite stories when I was (much much) younger. In particular, I tried to convey some of the wonder of seeing things grow and being partially responsible for helping to create things (by planting, overseeing, and cooking), and the community that we can have with our neighbors.

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

I live in Philadelphia.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

I decided to write this story because I had recently heard how some people at an organization here in Philadelphia had decided to grow a salsa garden, and I thought it was a lovely and moving tale of people working together to make joy. I wanted to capture some of that joy in the story, as well as the fun that can be had when one lives on the north side of the street (where there's enough sun for container-grown vegetables).

Location: Country

United States

Location: State or Department


Location: City


Tell us more about you / your team

I serve on the board of a wonderful organization here that partners with community groups to plant and support community orchards in Philadelphia, which is how I heard about the planting of a salsa garden at one of our partner organizations. I really enjoy reading and books of all kinds (and deeply admire the mission of Reach Out and Read), and thought it would be fun to give story-writing a try.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

Other than having an image in my head of a lovely pepper plant, I don't have any pride of ownership over how this story could look when turned over to an illustrator.

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • No

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • I read an article on Philly dot com about Reach Out and Read, and found this on their website.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Elsa Brink

Hello Anne, I'm sorry for being so 'slow on the uptake'. I only just realised that you also submitted two children's' books: and they are both lovely! When you commented on mine, I did wonder how you came across it, but it didn't cross my mind that you had also entered the challenge. I'm sorry to only see them now. They are beautiful, especially this one, and I really wish you all the best!

View all comments