Celebrity Gardeners and Books for Young Eco Warriors
Celebrity Gardeners and Books for Young Eco Warriors
Isn’t it lovely when you meet a ‘celebrity’ in real life and they are exactly as you imagined them? ChickPea and I were fortunate enough to meet Costa Georgiadis, host of ABC’s ‘Gardening Australia’ and the garden gnome on ‘Get Grubby TV’, when he came to my mum’s school recently.
ChickPea spent most of the week asking every morning if today was the day that Costa was coming out of the TV and telling everyone that he was going to Nonna’s library tomorrow (tomorrow took a long time to arrive). Costa Georgiadis is a landscape architect and television presenter who has an all-consuming passion for plants and people. He did indeed come to ‘Nonna’s Library’ at Westside Christian College
Costa won the hearts of us librarians when he talked to WCC students about the barrage of information they experience everyday, and filtering through that information and make informed decisions. He talked with incredible passion about knowledge and that once you know something, no one can take that away from you. In this case he was talking about the basics of composting and all things sustainability – and he had the students enthralled. I expect nonna’s ‘WCC Diggers’ gardening club will have a tripled membership after this visit. I was going to say, ‘could we clone this man and roll him out to all school assemblies’, but I suspect this is why he went into television – to spread his message far and wide, to young and old, to passionate gardeners and those who have no clue but a willingness to learn and understand…and grow.
Whatever you may think of Costa’s beard (my nan isn’t a fan – I rather am – we disagree on this), the man is a larger than life personality, with an incredible knowledge and a passion for growing gardens, communities, food, knowledge and understanding.
I don’t have half Costa’s passion or knowledge, but I do love getting grubby in the garden and am a firm believer in school gardening clubs (mine is called ‘Earth Angels’) and growing some of your own food at home. Our most successful gardening projects both at home have been our worm towers, our carrot pots and our fairy garden, which could just as easily be a dinosaur garden if that’s your child’s preference. Two years on the fairy garden is flourishing and both girls regularly play with it.
My favourite ‘Sustainability for Children’ books are below – in no particular order. Some are Australian (my preference), but some are overseas titles which are still fabulous for projects, tips and ideas. Love them all – they are on high rotation in my library and I’d love to see them in every school library.
To add these books to your home, school or library collection click on title links or cover images.
‘The Gardener’ is a ‘new to me’ title. It made me get all weepy in front of preppies the other day it is just so gorgeous. A story of the incredible power of gardens to give people meaning in life and to connect generations and communities. So a must have!
Dear Simon Green, I love you. I love your luscious lettuce, choice cucumbers and buttery beans. I desire your dandelion, cabbage and kale. Oh, Simon Green, how I pine for your parsley leaves and fresh young peas. Your spinach and your strawberries are so scrumptious.
Sylvia the snail is in love with Simon Green and his perfect produce. But Sylvia is just a small snail in a gigantic garden, so how can she get him to notice her? My full review of this gorgous book is here.
For Australian gardeners you can’t go past Annette McFarlane in my opinion! We use ‘Organic Vegetable Gardening’ to plan our crops each year at school.
And similarly, we use ‘Organic Fruit Growing’ to care for our (few at this stage) fruit trees at school and home.
Not so much a children’s book, but easy to read…Jackie’s ‘Backyard Self Sufficiency’ has taught me (and my Earth Angels at school) so much. Take the time to read about my love of Jackie here…she is my FAVOURITE gardener (sorry Costa!) and I am so fortunate to have been to her garden.
‘Gardening Projects for Kids’ by Jenny Hendy is English but has some fabulous projects for any child gardener accompanied by photographs and simple instructions. We’ve made a sweet pea tower, succulent pots, windowsill salad pots, upcycled CD ‘hangy things’, bulbs in glasses and mini glasshouses.
Likewise ‘Gardening with Kids’ by Catherine Woram is English but has gorgeous ideas and photographs. This one has been fabulous for ideas like egg heads, planting potatoes, mini gardens (like our fairy garden) and terrariums.
For more local gardening books I can’t go past ‘Yates Young Gardener: Growing Things to Eat’ and ‘Yates Young Gardener: Get Your Hands Dirty’ by Janice Marriott. These are both very information packed and probably best suited to middle primary students, but as with all non fiction books, you can dip in and out of them as needed.
‘It’s Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden’ by George Ancona.Okay so this book is set in Mexico, BUT this is one of the most inspiring books I have read about school kitchen gardens. My own girls loved it, as do my girls at school who help me in the garden. I got some fabulous ideas from this book like having an easel in the garden for children to make observations or do sketches, and building an outdoor pizza oven (PLEASE Dan?). It takes the reader through a whole year in a school garden where volunteers, parents, teachers and students all work together to produce the best outcomes. Perfect. Loved it.
Combining modern photography and typesetting with historical artworks from the archives of the National Library of Australia, ‘Eco Warriors to the Rescue!’ makes our NLA’s beautiful collection of botanical art accessible to the very young. The book also includes interesting facts about Australian flora, as well as floral emblems and birth months, and further ideas on how to keep Australian green.
For introducing children to the world of the chicken and the whole egg to chicken/chicken to egg concept I like ‘From Egg to Chicken’, a great non-fiction title to start the ball rolling.
Without a doubt my all-time favourite ‘reference’ book about chickens is ‘Jackie French’s Chook Book’. I buy this book for friends entering the world of chickens. Jackie French is the author of upwards of 120 children’s/YA/adult/gardening books and you can read more about her here. Although this is non-fiction and you can just flick to the part you want…she is such a great writer that you will find yourself reading the entire book. It details everything from egg problems to health problems, and you leave the book feeling like if everyone had a few chooks, the world would be a happier place.
You can’t go past ‘Amelia Ellicott’s Garden‘ (sadly out of print ATM – but I have a stockpile for gifts!), ‘The Potato People‘, ‘Mrs Millie’s Garden’, ‘Isabella’s Garden’ and ‘The Tiny Seed‘ for some picture book inspiration.