Friday, April 30, 2010

Kicking it with the Council - An Interview

This Giveaway is now CLOSED.

Our first blog interview was with the lovely Karen Angelucci. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Karen, she is an author based out of Lexington, KY and she has written her first children’s book. The book is a great read on gardening for kids and the title of the book is Grimy, Grubby Gardening.

Child Care Council (CCC): What or who inspired you to start gardening?
Karen Angelucci (KA): I started gardening when I was five years old. I grew up in the country in Cynthiana, KY and my grandmother lived next door to us and she loved to garden. I have found that it is usually the grandparents that teach kids to garden, sometimes the parents are too busy so if you have a grandparent nearby that enjoys gardening lots of times the grandkids will enjoy it also.

CCC: What inspired you to write your first book, Secrets of a Kentucky Gardener?
KA: Well, I have a degree in X-ray and I was working when I got married and started having kids and decided to become a stay at home mom. Being a stay at home mom is challenging but I get bored easily and decided that since gardening is my passion, I would write a book about gardening. When I told my husband, he never dreamed I was serious. That book took ten years, lots of naps and Monday Night Football games were spent with me writing.

CCC: What was your next book?
KA: I got picked up by another publisher and then I wrote Secrets of a Tennessee Gardener. The books are very similar but the TN edition goes to zone 7 whereas KY is a zone 6.

CCC: How did you move from the Secrets books onto writing Grimy, Grubby Gardening for kids?
KA: It was natural for me to do a kid’s book. I have two children of my own and this seemed like the next progression. Gardening, like everything else starts with the kids. It is important for kids to get interested and find time outside and experience the natural world. Without these experiences, we will all be in trouble. I am all for the No Child Left Inside act. I am currently reading Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv and agree with his ideas.

CCC: Do you have any other books in the works right now?
KA: I am currently researching for a historical fiction book for adults but nothing is definite yet.

CCC: What are some of your favorite plants in the garden?
KA: Well, I am an Iris fanatic. I do not currently have a lot in my garden but I do love them. I grew up with lots of Iris growing in our garden. My first plant was an ugly yellow Iris and I still have a piece of that plant. I have moved it from house to house to house and plant it somewhere inconspicuous but it has great sentimental value to me. I really love the Japanese Iris. I am not 100% native but I am pro native. I have a mix of native and ornamental in my garden.

CCC: Do you enjoy growing plants from seed? And if so, what are some of your easiest ones?
KA: Larkspur, which is a cool weather annual and it self sows. You will have to pull lots of them out but it is worth it. Zinnias and sunflowers are easy to grow from seeds and those are actually what my kids and I grow together every year. I always buy my seeds locally because it is important to support local economies. It does not matter the store, many of the big box stores even use local growers and suppliers.

CCC: What are some of your favorite gardening projects with kids?
KA: I do school visits and presentations on writing and on gardening and my favorite thing is what I call my Nature Table. When I go to schools, they do not really have time to get dirty so my nature table fills the bill. The kids can see, smell, hear and feel everything on the table from seedpods to flowers and vegetables. That is always a lot of fun. Fortunately there are lots of school gardens popping up but unfortunately there is not always someone to take care of them. There is a big movement to plant more school gardens and I think that movement is going to make it. I am in the process of developing one at one of my daughter’s elementary schools right now. The biggest stumbling block to school gardens are getting adults that will take on the obligation of maintaining the gardens. The kids are easy, they love to get out there and get their hands in the soil, the adults are the ones you have to convince. The one I am working on now is being maintained by myself and the Early Start/Head Start teacher and class. We had to jump through some hoops to get this done since the playground is for the federally funded program but we persevered and the teacher and kids love the garden and are very dedicated to it. They sowed some seeds and planted perennials and a tree and later we will be putting in some vegetables. This teacher understands that the garden is a true outdoor classroom.

CCC: How do you find out if a new school you will be attending has a garden?
KA: There is a website where you can register any school gardens at the Kids Gardening Organization.

CCC: Is there assistance for people wanting to start a school garden?
KA: There are some grants you can get if you look hard enough for them but lots of it is just donations. You will also have to contact the school and get a list of approved plants and trees. You also can not spray any herbicides or pesticides that could endanger the children. You also have to plan it out well and be sure you have people to maintain it or if it get all overgrown the maintenance crew will have to mow it all down. It can be done, but it is no small task.

CCC: Why do you feel it is so important for kids to garden?
KA: It is one of the most important things in life. It is crucial for kids to be connected to nature, it improves their self esteem, their health and it reduces the crime rate and graffiti, being outside makes a person more appreciative.

CCC: What is your website?
KA: and Karen Angelucci Booksis on Facebook.

I hope you enjoyed the interview and were inspired to get outside with your kids. Karen was kind enough to donate a copy of Grimy, Grubby Gardening as a giveaway. You can register up to 6 separate times following the rules below.

1. Leave a comment on this blog posting telling us your favorite outdoor activity with kids.
2. Become a follower of our blog.
3. Become a fan of KIDS MATTER on Facebook.
4. Become a fan of Child Care Council of Kentucky on Facebook.
5. Follow us on Twitter.
6. Blog about the interview on your blog, linking back to us.

Thanks and the registration for the giveaway will end on Wednesday May 5th, 2010.


  1. My husband is the gardener, so he and my daughter enjoy spending time in the dirt, veggies, mulch, etc. I enjoy bringing in the harvest and sharing time cooking with my kids. It's so much fun when you make it yourself!

  2. Well, first and foremost our outdoor activity is usually swimming but I must say, I LOVE to dig for worms and bugs. My daughter likes the worms a lot more than my son does. We're also growing a herb garden so it's fun to dig up worms and put them in our garden.

    Amber Greathouse

  3. we love gardening! And, when the weather is not permitting, we like to watch and identify birds.

  4. we are beginning our second year with backyard gardening. the kids LOVE it