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Renata Fossen Brown turns botanical garden lessons into crafty gardening book for kids

Posted April 24, 2014 in Articles

Author: Julie Washington

It took a village’s worth of children to help Renata Fossen Brown write her first book, “Gardening Lab for Kids: 52 Fun Experiments to Learn, Grow, Harvest, Make, Play, and Enjoy Your Garden.”

Fossen Brown, vice president of education at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, recruited nearly 20 neighborhood children and the offspring of friends and invited them to her Cleveland Heights home to be photographed doing the garden-related activities she hoped to include in her newly published book.

Her Cleveland Heights back yard, porch and dining room became studio space. Brown’s husband and professional photographer, Dave Brown, a professional photographer, took the images.

Her young helpers, ages 3 to 12, dived into painting pots, making a desert terrarium and going on bug scavenger hunts that the tough part was getting them to freeze their movements long enough to be photographed.

None of the kids had modeling experience, but that didn’t matter. “We all figured it out together. There was a lot of laughing,” Fossen Brown said.

She hopes that “Gardening Lab for Kids: 52 Fun Experiments to Learn, Grow, Harvest, Make, Play, and Enjoy Your Garden” (Quarry Books, $24.99), encourages laughter and outdoor play for kids and parents. The book, which aims to teach kids about gardening and the natural world, contains a year’s worth of indoor and outdoor garden-related activities and crafts.

Cleveland Botanical Garden celebrates the publication of “Gardening Lab for Kids” with a book signing and children’s activity on Saturday, April 26. Youngsters can make “sleepy herb satchets,” fresh bundles of fragrant herbs that have soothing properties.

Botanical garden visitors also can enjoy the final days of Big Spring, a seasonal celebration of spring-themed indoor and outdoor family activities happening through Sunday, April 27.

“Gardening Lab For Kids” is equal parts gardening how-to book and hands-on craft book. It encourages kids to plant tomatoes, bell peppers and basil in a pizza garden, or turn an old tire into potato planter. They learn the elements of good garden design by cutting out and gluing flower catalog photographs to construction paper. They learn soil science by digging a hole, filling it with water and watching to see how long it takes the water to drain away.
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Original Article: http://www.cleveland.com/insideout/index.ssf/2014/04/renata_fossen_brown_turns_bota.html

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