Do you have any questions for me?
Well, I was wondering about your journey a little bit.
Well, I call my audience Green Future Growers, mostly they are interested in growing a lot of food, they have large backyard gardens, they are master gardeners, but I have gotten a lot of new listeners so there might be more new gardeners. I started my podcast in January 2015, and I have done 318 interviews with backyard gardeners, market farmers, etc and so I feel like since I started my podcast I could keep a class of students alive if I had to.
My husband and I live on 20 acres in NW Montana, so deer is a big challenge here. Many listeners etc say that is a giant challenge. Mikes goal is trying to grow as much of our own produce as we can but this year we are trying to do more, we are even looking into having a WWOOFER coming to stay and maybe help Mike because we feel like this land should produce as much as it can and more then Mike can by himself in case we need food in the fall.
It wasn’t until I saw children in a garden—holding seeds, planting them, touching the soil, and smelling, harvesting, and tasting food (nature)—that I knew they were truly perceiving their place in the natural world. And it made perfect sense.
The most direct and intimate way to connect with nature is, clearly, to eat it. A small part of it becomes a small part of you—and it fills you up a little more every time.
Eventually you begin to realize that you have always been 100 percent nature, that you are made of the same components of all that you see in the natural world—your body made of water and carbon, same as the flower stalks. Gardens remind us that everything is connected, and that “everything” includes us.
Here’s my amazon review:
All you need to help inspire the little gardener in your life.
Don’t forget to leave yours so this book gets shared by all who need it: Illustrations bring gardening to life in this little workbook that is designed by someone who obviously knows kids + gardens and how to love and enjoy them together! Fantastic read. LOVE LOVE LOVE!
It is Friday April 24, 2020 It’s truly a book out of my heart. They are giving one to a listener.
IDK where you are?
Tell us a little about yourself.
Hudson Valley in NY State. 2 hours of NYC.
I grew up on Long Island till I was ten. My family moved upstate to where my dad had a hunting cabin.
Moving from the suburbs at the age of 10 for a fledgling 6th grader, but looking back on it, I’m so glad they did.
How lucky were you to get to move upstate.
I loved the close knit community in the suburbs, but I’m a nature girl at heart, more of a country girl and I’m glad I got to develop a stronger love of nature.
Even when we lived on Long Island, we had a tiny postage stamp backyard, and most of that, probably 20-30% of that backyard, we had in vegetables all along the perimeter of the yard. There was never any question with the connection to where food came from because we always had tomatoes growing etc. That was natural.
That connection was made pretty naturally, when we moved upstate dad really expanded his garden, put in an orchard
- 5 acres
- still live on that land
- apple trees are my dad’s heart and soul
helping in the garden
once I got to be a teenager I wasn’t super duper excited about it. But that really gave me a foundation and a jumping off point for a connection to nature.
not along of the typical
always had this connection to natural world that began to manifest belonging to an environmental group in high school and then going to an environmental science and forestry program here in sunny Syracuse NY
What I started feeling that education
being an outdoor educator felt like my path
educational fellowship my last couple of years
inner city Syracuse
I felt like this is it! Connecting kids to nature is what I want to do!!
That manifested over a few years
few different jobs
- NY state parks
- adirondack mountain club
- taking kids hiking
- taking kids in canoes
- looking at pond water under a microscope
nature still felt
When I would engage with nature, yes
- let’s identify this tree or this animal track
- it didn’t feel like enough!
- Nature still felt like an other
It’s a great programing.
We didn’t have blacksmithing but there was a farm nearby that had more of those historic skill type stuff.
We had a
- mammals course
- aquatics course
- project adventure ropes course for team building
we did have a lot of 6th graders, aligning with the 6th grade curriculum
Along with the quote from the book, watching kids eat from a book
I love identifying trees
I love identifying birds
observing in things in nature
but engaging in it is something totally different and actually putting a piece of nature into your body takes it to next level
nature communication and nature interpretation
Nature is food so I said, let me check out this organic farming. I tried this organic farming just for a weekend and I was sold.
I moved out to Colorado to intern farm
- part educational
interest to sustainable living off grid 9000 feet elevation
- working with the land and allowing it to be part of our lives
- That was a big shift, watching where all my food came
- also took a course with the Audubon in Maine
3 week intensive just before I went to colorado
just watching, we took it back to basics!
we want to bake bread then somebody starts
- grind the wheat
- split firewood
taking it back to basics is different then the part of me that climbs a mountain to see a pretty view the working with kids to check it out flipping logs over and playing in streams
It came full circle back to gardening
its a really excusable way to connect with nature intimately and personally.
Do you want to explain about the little gardener big gardener and how it starts out, because people probably don’t alway know how to start with a kid?
the book is designed to be read by a big gardener to help guide little gardeners to create:
together! The book is laid out pretty chronologically, in terms of setting intentions, and mindfulness and always coming back to that dream to guide you and where you want your garden to go.
visualizing your garden
connecting your land
observing your environment
what kind of garden is going to work for this place
I love that you start out talking about an inviting garden!
the most the gardens I felt most wowed by a real energy shift by just walking into it, it was part wild and cultivated, when you walked into it there were
- places to sit
- defined paths
- it just had that element of wild nature
- and “domesticated nature”
I think that is so true, because like Mike has his minifarm that is production for vegetables but then we have our garden area that I refer to as the organic oasis because it’s a place where we hangout and have picnics and bar-b-ques with the kids etc and I like to paint and relax and read. A place to be and enjoy is very different then a farm that just produces food.
the more kids feel invited into the garden, just like adults the more they are going to want to be in there
When they are a part of setting those intentions
building the structures that allow the garden to come alive that’s gonna be a space they connect to more
something that’s woven
the idea that natural systems support all life on this earth!
We are a part of those systems, it’s important to understand they sustain us and how to co create with those systems to create ideally a more sustainable society
In a garden that you are co creating with
it’s more easy to see how your actions affect your immediate environment for better or worse
they will have a better sense as they grow looking beyond nature in their backyard and garden to oh, I can have an affect on the nature in my community
I think gardening is a lesson in so many things!
I think it allows us to see what we are capable of doing with our own two hands and in our minds in nature.
I love that so eloquent. It’s amazing to me, when I look at your book, I’m like wow! because I like a lot of the things in your book are very similar to what we put it in our book the organic oasis guidebook is similar like the bean teepee and deep beds but I love your layout!
I think it is so timely right now, we’ve been teaching online for a month now, I am trying to think of different ways to engage my families. We just had Earth Day, we did just teach in Wonders Mc Graw Hill’s curriculum for earth day we had great stories on recycling and solar power etc that we’ve been reading but I think there are so many ideas in your book I can use with them.
It’s a blessing and a curse
at our local nursery I can do a garden activity and book signing!
these things that are described in the book
my heart breaks a little bit not being able to do it.
but honestly the book is about parents and children for families to create and grow in their garden and parents are all stuck at home with their children so what could be more perfect?
pining for this connection to nature
how connected we are to the biology of the planet
there couldn’t be a more perfect time for the book to come out
One thing I wanted to add, there is this big gardener, little gardener dynamic throughout the book, people ask me is it for kids or for adults?
it’s for both of you
Most of the text is designed to be read by an adult
there are these side bars that are written for little readers, just a short paragraph
designed to pick up the book themselves
One of my friends, she has 2 twin five year olds, and she had a picture of Nora reading the book in a chair, so I was so excited!
the five year old is picking up the book!
- it’s so good!
- it’s so good!
I’m glad that I’m hearing from adults
picking it up on their own
I think the illustrations are invited, draw a garden map, that you phrase it like that, just like you said, I could see my 3rd graders reeaing a good percentage of this especially the side bars, the way it goes in chronological order, the journal prompts and the planting calendar, and the illustrations of teh tools. It’s like workbook and draw in it or hav ea notebook with it. The layout is fantastic!
Yea the harvesting olympics!
I feel like the illustrations capture the vibe of the book, it’s a perfect balance between being able to something that was really important to me was
if there’s an illustration of a seed or a plant
if it’s a raspberry bush
I want ti to look like a raspberry
plant physically correct
soft and welcoming
Esemie the illustrator just nailed it.
I think you guys totally nailed it. Do you want to talk about the content in it? My listeners are always interested in what can they do to be more productive and grow more vegetables in their spaces. It’s all gold!
The most important piece of advice I have used in gardening is observe observe observe.
one reason I like to water is it gives me time to stare at the plants
drip tape is super efficient, and turing on a sprinkler is super efficient too
But watering by hand is one of the ways that helps me get to observe and know what is going on in my garden
Permaculture Design Tips
The other thing is I took a permaculture design course some years ago, some of the suggestions that come through in permaculture is to observe your space for an entire year!
Don’t screw around, really get to know that space.
- where does the frost settle?
- where does it lift first?
- where do the puddles form?
- where is it more rocky?
where does it
Sometimes we get so excited about getting our plants into the ground
foundational pieces that are going to be important and trickle down
making sure your soil is good before you begin
or you’re gonna be heartbroken!
If you are all excited about growing carrots and potatoes and you find out bedrock 6 inches down or less or your soil is filled with slate or shale pieces
I think it’s worth taking the time inthe beginning
or you put it where the tree is going to grow up and be shaded in all of august or it’s gonna burn in August
get to know where your sun and shadows are moving!
it’s a very joyful and mediative process
- grow your potatoes in those fabric potato sacks
- have a raised bed to start and incorporate back to the garden later
once you have a sense of the ecology of your space
relationship between being efficient and being joyful
come up agains rather, I feel like it ends with being productive and having a good time in the garden.
I’m gardening for a lot of reasons
- one is for production and one is for joy
- many other reasons
this mantra I try to embody
I am peacefully productive and mindfully efficient
taking both of those worlds
I feel good about both of them, I am at peace but getting things done, learning to find the joys of being efficient
if I am being efficient I feel like I have to move really fast then I am not really connecting to my garden in that spiritual, sacred way we connect to our land and there is a way to do both so I tried to weave mindfulness within the book.
I think that it’s one way if listeners will bond with their children if they do the activities in the book, because like you mentioned the interview I did with Joel he talked about growing up with awful memories of just weeding, weeding, weeding…
that was what he was forced to do where as you’re talking about all the joys of a garden you can get and they are going to eat but they are going to look back on with fond memories!
I really want to
this is kind of what I wanted to say before about ecological literacy
being in your garden that you are out in nature
I’m so glad you decided to share that one quote at the beginning of our conversation because my main goal for the book is to use gardening as a tool to understand that we are part of nature and we have the ability to co-create in a really positive way to make us healthier, good and more connected to our families and communities!
This is such an important time for that. In redneck Montana, there are lots of people don’t want to wear masks, I mean our grocery stores are good, and people are staying home but I continually see things that say, people are gathering here.
I just feel that people who are protesting, we need to reach out to them personally, like literally call them on the phone, not through email, and reach out to them and say hey:
- the red cross needs help – most of their volunteers are seniors
- food banks need help
- what if we doubled all the backyard gardens where people are already growing and said if you grow food if we build you an extra bed would you grow more
- expand community gardens
- school gardens
We’re gonna use part of our stimulus to help Mike grow more food because who know what is going to be like this fall. I feel like there are places in our community. You could probably build a deep bed safely on your own.
I also wanted to ask you about your club in high school, like I think if there was an environmental group, I think I would have been an environmental lawyer. Let’s get the people who are wanting to be out to work helping
To the club I was in in high school was called
there is 4h
I wasn’t plugged into agriculture
the more outdoor educator/ nature interpretation
- identifying trees
- doing soil tests
- understanding what kind of local wildlife there was
- tracking and things
Envirothon, I believe, I haven’t looked it up in a while, it’s a national club, i don’t think it was by any means in every high school
- state competitions
- countywide statewide
- national competitions
groups of high schoolers gather together and basically take this test on nature to see how well you know it
There was a team of 4 to do problem solving we had to do presentations and things like that. That was great because I realized there were all these other people who cared about something similar and there were enough of those people to have a national following
my operating system is more introvert, less extrovert activist
I feel like a lot of kids are getting into the activist piece especially with Greta on the scene
I was gonna say, where do you see that?
that club was just right for me,
these small teams that would go out in nature together, we would learn together
- going for walks in the woods as a kid
- being in the garden as a kid
as a kid
I know a lot of schools have school gardens
suggest seeking out leaders in the come
That’s the other place I feel like we could get community gardens. Let’s get these people that feel like they aren’t affected to get out there and build something positive. Let’s expand our community gardens. I did see they were working on the rose garden at the library, yesterday.
I think this is a great idea, there are probably listeners in the audience who are like, there is a curriculum to use, because I get intimidated and I’m a teacher.
I am the kind of person who when I have time off, I need to walk in nature, but the garden, the other day I was even out helping mike for about 20 minutes digging the potato bed with the broadfork and I was like ok I’m done.
Afternoon snack Rant
I have yet to meet a student who doesn’t love the afternoon fresh vegetable/fruit snack we give out. Celery, cucumbers, carrot sticks, tangelos, cherry tomatoes grapes. It all gets eaten, you might have one or two out of 20 that don’t but the other kids all clamor over the rest. They are always like can I have another one? Anyone who says kids won’t eat fresh vegetables, I don’t believe it. If you bring it to them they will enjoy it.
Going back to what you said about getting folks getting stuck
in alignment for them right now
Now is the time we all need to be helpful humans
whatever skill set and how we can offer that in a way that feels comfort in this crazy time
once the lock down in NY here, I was feeling kind of despondent to start
let’s adjust from this more panicky to more purposeful
some video online that is encouraging people to shift from panic to purpose, I think that is one of the best pieces of advice to come out.
Let’s take a minute to thank our sponsors and affiliate links
Now Let’s Get to the Root of Things!
Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden?
I do not like dealing with pests
It’s something I have avoided learning a whole lot about as a way to procrastinate on dealing with it, instead I focus my energy on growing that are growing plants that are healthy and resistant and having healthy soil, then deal with concept of insects down the line. I feel like sometimes that philosophy works and sometimes it doesn’t.
still haven’t diced out the part about I don’t want to squish cucumber beetles
having them eat my cucumbers.
That’s so funny, cause this morning I was like how come I cld easily resist that turkey bacon I sooooo wanted to eat and yet chocolate? french fries etc I have no will power against. He said… someone should show you a video of a coffee bean being slayed. Squishing beetles, yeah not for me. Last summer I had a guest or facebook member say, this is my $67/lb squash becasue they spent so much time squishing beetles.
butting heads I
if you think about it, what’s happening now in the world we have this idea of what is immunity.
some of us are more susceptible to getting sick then others, that could be from factors within our control
genetic makeup is gonna make certain bugs want to eat it no matter what, but my philosophy is to do the best I can to to get that plant to a point that is the best that it can be
nature that surrounds it
everything out there is eating everything else
I don’t want these bugs in here
so I want my plants to have the best
soil is really the foundation of everything.
Without a doubt healthy soil is the biggest theme on my show. And your dad probably has the same in the orchard because I have had lots of people talk about the importance of keeping your trees healthy with good soil, water and proper pruning for airflow so they stay resistant to disease. Again, my listeners want to know how to stay healthy.
methods like using row cover
egg plants get attacked by flea beetles
I keep them covered from when they are small, just transplanted, till they are a foot or more high and of course the flea beetles find there way in but it’s not a descimating
not an entourage of them
row cover is one of my best friends
the really light stuff is really nice
lightest you can get is great
Do you leave it on during the day? or at night?
leave it on almost all the time
floating on hoops
if it’s a really rainy day sometimes I’ll pull back the row cover to let the bed get a good soak but I’ll cover it back up. There are lot of days they stay totally covered and they do alreight and they look happier
and not only is it among the most affordable but it’s durable. We don’t have a lot of shed space and places to keep things, and I think we spent 50-100 dollars, as compared to do the tarps! Mike has been doing the tarping thing this year, and I was like what $150 for a tarp from Farmer’s Friend?
What is your favorite activity to do in the garden?
transplanting is my favorite
Getting seedlings on trays and getting them in the open beds, I just like tucking them in, it’s like a culmination!
A graduation celebration!
When I’m working with little kids
- still in the greenhouse just sprouted pre-schoolers
- brassicas are 3 weeks old they are more like kindergarteners
- first grade is when they get transplanted outside
I love that moment bring them outside for a few days and let them harden off and get used to the conditions outside.
Me too it’s like instant garden!
to what’s gonna be your food.
It’s funny I always say I like clean garden jobs, but I love digging a new bed. I don’t mind weeding when it’s a little bit, I don’t like it when it get’s overwhelming. And it does remind me of cleaning the chalkboard in school.
What is the best gardening advice you have ever received?
I mean, a little bit of what I mentioned before in terms of just observing
top thing ~ getting to know your space
how nature is co-creating your garden
I can’t stay enough about making sure your soil is covered with something for some people it might be
- side dressing of compost and mulch
When you look at wild nature, the earth is covered in life, or it’s covered in what used to be life, like leaves, and there is a reason earth is covered with leaves falling from the trees
life to flourish underneath it
notice you’l take one of your garden beds
- mulch half of it with a couple of bales of fluffed up straw
- and don’t mulch half
wait a few weeks and pull some back and see how far you can wiggle your hand back into the soil
All of the gardening instincts
which one plants
watch your plants
how are the plants that have mulch doing
The way I like to tuck in my garden beds each year is to put a layer, to put an inch or two of compost and then put down straw. I used to fluff up the straw more but then the wind would come so I learned to lay down flakes of straw so it’s heavier
silvia center which is where I did most of my work gardening with kids and the soil there was just hard clay, it looked like you could have built clay bricks
After a year of doing the method of doing compost with straw on top
getting on the fall
spring time, I was able to pull the straw back and dip my hand in the ground wristdeep without much effort. My theory is that the worms and other soil life, came up from the depths eating that compost and distributing it into the top couple of inches of soil and it made a really nice rich planting mix. I could
- direct seed
take that straw mulch and kind of fluff it up around the plants. I just loved watching the soil change through.
I feel like you are dropping golden seed after golden seed. I have a question so our book starts out with the first chapter healthy soil and building compost because I think everyone should build compost and stop throwing their food in the trash and landfills.
But so many people say, ick compost, and oh I had a bad experience or what about the animals and I’m like idk we don’t have that problem I think if we live in the woods wouldn’t we more then anyone? WBU?
Compost for me has been an evolving story
When I was in college we had what we called active composting because the compost was actively decomposing but we lived on the second floor of a house, we had a little backyard, and so the compost in the back was reachable by a hand throw from the second story, so we would throw our stuff, we wouldn’t turn it, the leaves would come down, it was basically just a pile of things that can degrade…
That’s what ours is like!
I’ve grown a lot in my compost so I think it really depends on
why you want to compost
diverst some of your waste stream away from your
cultivating your compost pile you want to get something good
workable that works into your soil that can take a little bit of time
Compost rules are simple
balance of moisture and temperature and aeration
If you get those right, something good will be happening
If you just focus on managing those three things you’ll have something better then what I had in college the unmanaged heap
dry with wet
nitrogen rich green things that tend to be wetter
If you live in an area where you feel like you might have some
- small to medium
- mammal pests
be careful not to be putting dairy or meat scraps from a cake in your pile
Good to try not put anything sick in your garden. Make a separate pile, don’t use that with anything that is going to go back in your garden.
Maybe it could become a slow decomposing pile to fill in a low spot in the lawn.
A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be.
oh gosh it’s really hard
the broad fork and then its a toss up between a colinear hoe and a scuffle hoe
it’s just so delicate! It encourages me to get on top of the weeds when they are at that thread stage that the collinear hoe is so in depth at managing.
- extra long handle
- no bending at all
- joy and cultivate the soil
My husband weeds his whole minifarm with his collinear hoe! And I love our broadfork! It was the bet $99 I ever spent. That’s how Mike roto-tills, this year he has the tarps down, but he uses the broadfork for it.
A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?
oh my good ness I’m super lucky to still have some pumpkins and squash from last year.
pumpkin coconut curry
veggie stock I made from scraps from the farm I keep in the freezer
roasting a pumpking
mixing in curry powdered
my sister who is a farmer
cooking winter squash
no more peeling
puts the squash in the baking tray in the oven
400 for an hour
turns off the oven and lets it sit after that time
able to stick a metal skewer in
it’s so easy to slice
too many to count
cut open then the soft pumpkin
scoop out the seeds
gently scrape out the roasted flesh with a spoon
soups where the
A favorite Podcast?
I do! They’re all over the place right now.
he is out of Pennsylvania
how curious he is
great connection to some of the episodes he has down with Ethan Hughes
with the Possibility Alliance
A favorite internet resource?
In terms of gardening. I will generally, I google a lot. I am a book hoarder
I have so many gardening books, I am training
Vegetable Gardening book by Frank
that is where I go first overtime
looking for different blogs and tips about gardening
seen recipes on the spruce
home based projects
working on getting a website growing
I will do that over the winter before
I’m gonna find time
before the book came out
to pull away from social media
when you have a book
come up with a mindful
haven’t used Instagram
finally get going
Search Engine to find an independent local Bookstore: https://www.indiebound.org/indie-bookstore-finder
Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/Julie-Cerny/e/B085N8TP61
Purchase Page on Amazon-https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1616898607/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0#customerReviews
My favorite review – https://www.oregonlive.com/hg/2020/02/book-review-the-little-gardener-helping-children-connect-with-the-natural-world.html
link to the book
little gardener by Julie Cerny
I love directing folks to buy the book to buy it in other places
some bookstores are doing local curbside
connected to independent bookstores
working with kids
gardening with kids is mushing those tow things together
be gentle with yourself
as you are becoming little gardeners guide
journey of building
as a family
might run back to get scissors to cut the twine with and your little one has scattered the seeds all over the place, your plan has blown to the wind…
- let it be
- …see how much of the lettuce sprouts
- let that be a learning experience
I’m kind of glad you said that as Mike is working with this new person, I know what that’s like in the classroom, I think it’s gonna be a little different when we have people here at our place.
Final question- if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be?
For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?
any organization that is working to cultivate conscious connection for kids
the most important and sacred work on the planet right now
permaculture as a guiding philosophy blend of wild and cultivated
think that helping kids feel like they are part of nature is the project
- where our resources are coming from
- need to understand how natural systems work
- if we don’t how are we going to be able to ensure the wonderful parts of nature that aren’t us
I think the greatest joys in my life have been when I have been working the land that feeds me ~ I wish that everyone can feel that kind of joy
I was going to give you an amazing resource. There’s this woman Angie Gensler who came up with amazing social media calendar. She also has quotes and photographs for every holiday!
Mix that with Meet Edgar!
How do we connect with you?
also available on good reads
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