Third-generation rice farmer Matthew Sligar spends a lot of time working – especially during the spring and fall -- with planting and harvesting.
That means that sometimes, when he gets home in the evening, he has just enough time to tuck his 4-year-old and 1-year-old daughters into bed and read them a book – stories ranging from cats in hats to dragons who love tacos ... but none about how rice is grown.
And that was part of his inspiration for publishing his own book “Daddy’s Got Dirt: A California Rice Story” that tells the story of how rice is grown.
“I thought not only would it be interesting for them to learn about how rice is grown, but to know what it is I’m doing when I wasn’t home so they could relate to that,” Sligar said.
He said his older daughter has even started making connections when they’re visiting him in the rice fields.
“She’s learned in further depth how rice is grown, what I’m doing as a farmer and become more intimate with my job of growing rice and that’s something that’s important to me,” Sligar said.
Sligar was born and raised in Gridley and now lives in Chico – he farms in Gridley, Biggs and Richvale alongside his father.
He also has a YouTube channel called “Rice Farming TV” which is where he posts video blogs about his rice farming activities.
Through the channel, teachers started inviting him to their classrooms to talk about rice farming.
“I knew there was interest because (students) were asking really astute questions about tractors and the growing process,” Sligar said.
He said the book offers an opportunity for other rice farmers to teach their children about their work along with a learning opportunity for other children.
“The kids who belong to the general public, who don’t have a direct connection to farming, I would hope that would spark interest in where their food comes from and appreciate where food comes from,” Sligar said.
“Daddy’s Got Dirt: A California Rice Story” is structured with four-line rhyming stanzas along with brightly-colored illustrations by artist Daniel Vincent.
Sligar said animals are incorporated in the story – with “chirp chirps” from birds – and engines roar.
The book can be purchased on Amazon or at www.ricefarmingtv.com/daddys-got-dirt-california-rice-story/.
Sligar said if people purchase it directly from his website, he can autograph the book.