Mark your calendar! The Lakewood Service League is is having a fall luncheon at Victor Tangos on Friday, October 14th from 11:30am-1:30pm that will benefit our White Rock farm stand partner, Promise of Peace Community Garden. The guest speaker will be Rebecca P. Cohen who is a gardening and lifestyle expert and author of 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids (Sourcebooks), named a “Best New Parenting Book” by Scholastic Parent and Child. Get luncheon tickets here.
Also, on Saturday, October 15th from 9am-11am, Rebecca P. Cohen will be doing a book signing at Promise of Peace Community Garden as well as a free seed-planting activity for kids. Books for the signing can be purchased at the luncheon on Friday or at the gardening event on Saturday.
Get to know Rebecca! We asked her what five questions she gets asked most about gardening and outdoor lifestyle.
1. What is an outdoor lifestyle anyway?
I define an outdoor lifestyle as getting outside every day to improve your well being and the well being of your family. A lot of times we wish for the perfect weather, or location, or amount of time to relax. 15 Minutes Outside is doable! Alone or with kids, we can step outside, take a deep and de-stress from the day. Something amazing always happens outside, and 15 Minutes makes you want more of it. When my family is outside, we listen better, notice more about the plants and animals around us, and become closer as a family. For example, at nine, my older son is finding lots of other interests besides family. But if he wants to play catch, he knows he can ask me and I’ll say yes, and we can just be and laugh and smile together, which is happening less and less when we’re inside. And my friends with children in middle school, high school, and college attest to the fact that spending time outside as a family is what keeps them connected as their children grow.
I came up with my ideas from activities that my family had in our routine at different times of year as well as observing lots of children and the wonderful, creative way they play outside. My knowledge of gardening and when to do what at different times of year filled in a lot of activities and makes the book a great resource for easy ways to get started in the garden. And when moms and grandmas, a lot of them teachers, heard about the book, they loved to contribute their favorite activities too. The book is a collection of joy-filled family moments that anyone can experience.
3. How can readers adapt the activities to different regions of the country?
No matter what your region is like—surrounded by water or out in the desert, flat, mountainous, or filled with skyscrapers—each of us can appreciate the joys of a simple experience outside. And while your local temperatures may not match up to the ones I describe in the book as we move from month to month (and believe me, the weather in Virginia where I’m from can be anything but consistent in each season), you can easily adapt these activities to suit your particular climate. Since the book is structured by season, you can find activities appropriate for hot, cold, and moderate temperatures, regardless of whether the specific months are the same for you. Most of these activities can be done at any time of year, and for activities that rely on specific temperatures, like vegetable gardening, I have spelled out what temperatures are best for things like planting.
4. If I’ve never planted anything before, what should I start with?
Plant sweet peas, and attract monarch butterflies by planting native milkweed. These are the two simplest activities that I’ve taught to thousands of preschool to middle and high schoolers with the same enthusiastic response. Pea seeds sprout in temperatures anywhere from 40-70 degrees, so they are great for fall and early spring. The pea plant vines its way up a stick you plant in the ground (or in a container with drainage) – you can even make a tee pee trellis. Keep soil moist and in the sun. In seven days you’ll have a sprout, two weeks an even bigger plant, a flower in eight weeks, and the pod will grow straight from the flower! It’s a great lesson in the plant lifecycle and one that is sweet to taste. Planting native milkweed attracts the monarch lifecycle right in your garden. Monarchs will lay their eggs on the milkweed for their caterpillars to eat. We routinely have 20 – 30 monarch monarch caterpillars in our yard and the kids watch metamorphosis first hand. Milkweed is a perennial, so it will return every year.
5. What has surprised you the most about your book launch?
I’m honored with the fabulous attention the book has received: endorsements from Martha Sears, RN and co-author of The Baby Book, The National Wildlife Federation, Dr. Tererai Trent (Oprah’s favorite guest of all time!) and fantastic coverage in Better Homes and Gardens, Redbook, Working Mother, and Parenting magazines. In addition to parents, the kudos from teachers, principals, and home schooling families acknowledging the book as a helpful daily educational resource has been tremendous. As a result, I’ve paired my book and another of my products, Rebecca Plants Curiosity Cards, into a gift bundle on my website. Curiosity Cards are 50 open-ended questions for time outside together, which are loved by not only parents and teachers, but also grandparents too. They are even used in pediatric waiting rooms for families to pass the time. Readers have also been drawn to the story in my book of how I left the corporate world after 15 years to start RebeccaPlants.com, and I started a radio show, “Wish it, Dream it Do it!” to inspire others to pursue their dreams and passions in life, which will be the topic of my next book. My children know that I decided to leave the corporate world for work that makes me happy, which has not only impacted our meaningful conversations as a family, but also inspired my husband to do the same!
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For luncheon tickets to support Promise of Peace Garden, please go to the Lakewood Service League website.