Monday, March 24, 2014  |   Email   Print

Cleveland Botanical Garden Educator Encourages Kids to Experiment in Gardening with New Book

Renata Fossen Brown has shared her passion for plants with thousands of students from pre-kindergarten through graduate school over her 10 years at Cleveland Botanical Garden. Now, the Cleveland Heights resident aims to instill a lifelong love of gardening, botany, ecology and the natural world into young people through her first book, “Gardening Lab for Kids: 52 Fun Experiments to Learn, Grow, Harvest, Make, Play, and Enjoy Your Garden,” to be released April 1 by Cool Springs Press.

Fossen Brown, the vice president of education at the Garden, features 52 plant-related activities set into weekly lessons, beginning with map and garden zone education and moving through seeds, soil and composting. The lessons are designed as open-ended projects that can be revisited time and again with a hope of convincing the next generation of gardeners that the process is as rewarding as the product.

Where lessons are as abundant as the perennials they produce, Fossen Brown designed the activities to foster a strong connection between her young readers and plants.

Fossen Brown joined the Garden in 2004 as an education coordinator and the Garden’s Clara DeMallie Sherwin Chair in Education. She later served as associate director of education and in 2013 was promoted to vice president of education, overseeing the education of tens of thousands of students each year at the Garden and through its community-outreach programs. She previously worked as assistant curator of education for the Toledo Zoo and served as president of the Cleveland Regional Council of Science Teachers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from the University of Toledo and a Master of Arts degree in curriculum and instruction from Bradley University in Peoria.

“Gardening Lab for Kids” will be available for purchase beginning April 1 at The Garden Store, in select bookstores and online from Quarry Books and Amazon. The public is invited to meet the author at a book-signing event from noon to 2 pm on Saturday, April 26, at the Garden. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and kids can participate in one of the hands-on gardening activities featured in her book. Plus, visitors to the Garden that day can enjoy the larger-than-life Big Spring celebration. All activities are free with regular Garden admission.

Cleveland Botanical Garden, located at 11030 East Boulevard in the University Circle cultural district, is an ever-changing urban escape where visitors find enrichment and inspiration through fabulous gardens, an exotic Glasshouse and enchanting events.  The Garden fosters a greener and healthier community by growing young lives and restoring land throughout the city. Visit or call 216-721-1600 ext. 100 to learn more.


Cleveland Botanical Garden receives public support through Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom O'Konowitz,, 216.707.2818


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