In my book, First Peas to the Table, Maya really wants to win her school's First Peas to the Table Contest. She searches through Thomas Jefferson’s Garden Book, looking for clues on how to grow peas. I got the idea for my book by doing the same thing –reading Jefferson's Garden Book and his letters, looking for an idea. I wanted to find a way to connect Jefferson’s work in agriculture with children in schools today. When I read about the annual contest Jefferson had with his neighbors to see who could harvest the first bowl of peas, I knew what I wanted to write about. The term "to the table" meant that the winner had to bring the first bowl of peas to the dining table where they would celebrate their victory with their friends.
I had gotten an old copy of the book from the public library. I later discovered that the Garden Book is available to read online thanks to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
If you want to look in Jefferson's book for some clues to growing peas, visit their site: http://www.masshist.org/thomasjeffersonpapers/garden/