Parkite Gardai publishes ‘A Veggie Garden’
July 17, 2012
Parkite Tissa Gardai loves gardens, and her parents instilled that love.
"They always had a garden when I was growing up and they were always working in it," Gardai told The Park Record. "With them, I developed an appreciation for gardens and loved the satisfaction of having stuff that I could eat coming from a garden that I grew myself.
"I also like how after the season ends, you can start another the next year and see how it does," she said. "It’s a very rewarding challenge."
So, Gardai, who works at Park City Nursery, has taken it upon herself to share that love with children by writing a book called "A Veggie Garden," which was published a couple of months ago.
The book is about a dog named Daisy who leads readers through the process of growing and harvesting a garden.
"It’s kind of like a garden-growing guide for kids," Gardai said. "It teaches, in basic terms, how to go about planting, preparing and growing it."
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Gardai’s writings tell kids about different vegetables, like carrots and tomatoes, and teaches them how and when to harvest the produce.
"The idea is to get kids interested in gardening and, if they get ambitious, for them to start a garden of their own," she said.
The idea for the book was "planted" a couple of years ago after Gardai started to write poetry following the death of her grandmother.
"The funny thing is I haven’t always been interested in writing, but I wrote a poem for her memorial," Gardai said. "From there, I started writing more poems and really enjoyed it."
So, she had the idea expressing her love for gardening in a few verses.
"I began writing poems in a kind of Dr. Seuss manner and initially thought about doing a whole big book of poems," she said. "Someone read the poem and suggested that I turn it into a children’s book."
At first, Gardai dismissed the idea.
"My mom, sister and her husband also got supportive and urged me to do a book, but I was still like, ‘No, No, but after a while, they wore me down and I started to draw some pictures that were very kid-like and kid-oriented that would go with the words," Gardai said.
She broke down the poem into little stanzas and made an outline of pages.
"The rhythm of the project kind of fell into place," she said.
Although Gardai had taken some art classes in school and has dabbled in watercolors, she didn’t think her art would work for the book.
"I just figured I would give it a shot, and if it didn’t turn out well, I would have someone else draw for me," she said. "I asked friends what they thought and I told them to be very critical and they actually told me that they were pretty good, so I decided to stick with them."
As the project progressed, Gardai had to reassess her work, because she didn’t have a solid plan.
"It was more like I had to learn or decide what I would do as I went along," she laughed.
The biggest lesson came when Gardai decided to self-publish the book.
"I did it through LuLu.com, which a friend of mine recommended," she said. "It was an interesting experience because I’m not very computer literate. I had to put everything on the computer and then put it in a certain format and send it off, so I asked some friends to help me figure things out."
It wasn’t until Gardai had put together a prototype of the book that she realized it was going to be published.
"I printed out and stapled the pages together, I had an ‘a-ha’ moment," she said. "It was pretty exciting to think that I had actually created something that would be available for others to read and enjoy.
"When they sent the first printing to me, it was exactly what I wanted it to look like and that was pretty cool."
The book is already getting some rave reviews from her Park City Nursery coworkers.
"Some of them have kids and have already used the book to grow their own gardens," Gardai said. "They told me the kids actually liked the book and, even better, the book worked."
Already Gardai is thinking of writing another book.
"My three loves are animals, gardening and skiing," she said. "I would love to do another book about Daisy. She’s my dog, but also works at the nursery with me. People have told me that I should do another adventure with her or do a book about colors.
"I have tossed around the idea of writing a longer book, but I don’t think I have the patience for that much writing," Gardai said with a laugh.