(cool) progeny is thrilled to partner with Tastewise Kids on this “Ask an Expert” series! Designed for parents to read with their kids, the Ask an Expert monthly column will introduce you to Baltimore’s farm and culinary professionals so that kids can learn more about our community’s food system. This month? We’re getting our hands dirty with two local farming and gardening experts — just in time for Earth Day!

Carrie Engel

Ask the Expert: Carrie Engel, Greenhouse Manager at Valley View Farms

Tell us about your job and what you do.

I started working with plants when I was a kid in high school. I work in a garden center and put together gardens and annual flowers for people’s yards. I help plan pollinators and my work is pretty to see!

You can also find me on the WBAL Sunday Gardener series.

Why do you think Earth day is important?

Earth day started when I was in high school. I can remember being worried about clean air and rivers. Everyone wanted to find ways to get the Earth back to good and to do our part. As an adult, I can say that plants are the answer. Plants clean rivers, put oxygen in the air, take away toxins, and add water. Plants make everything cleaner.

How can people of all ages help take care of the Earth?

The first thing that comes to my mind is to recycle and reuse things as much as possible. Using biodegradable or plant based products helps the Earth. As a community, finding ways to use permeable materials helps take care of our water systems. We live near the Chesapeake Bay and our area has so much water regions. If we all do our part by cleaning up our yards and communities, it will help. Pollinators are also important because they provide food. Planting pollinators is another way to help the Earth.

What are local plants you recommend planting in honor of Earth Day?

I always recommend planting native plants when possible. Butterfly weed grows well in Maryland and helps the monarch butterflies. Clethra and Eupatorium are two of my other recommendations.

What are three words you would use to describe our planet?

Water, Living Thing, Beautiful

You can follow Valley View Farms on Facebook and Instagram or by visiting their website.

Ask the Expert: Joan Norman, Owner of One Straw Farm

Tell us about your job and what you do.

I am a farmer. My farm is called One Straw Farm and is located in Baltimore County, Maryland. We grow vegetables for people to enjoy.

Why do you think Earth day is important?

Everyone celebrates a birthday so it is only fair that the Earth gets to celebrate one too!

How can people of all ages help take care of the Earth?

Everyone can do something to take care of the Earth. Pick up garbage. Put your garbage away and try to not waste.

What are local plants you recommend planting in honor of Earth Day?

Trees are always good things to plant, but planting anything is great. You can plant seeds in a cup and find anything green to grow. You can find a small spot to put a pot with some tomato seeds or a green plant inside. Planting anything big or small helps the Earth. It all counts.

What are three words you would use to describe our planet?

Special, Unique, Important

If you could be a child again and spend your day getting dirty, what would you do?

I am an adult and I do this every day still! I love getting my hands in dirt. I like the way it smells when the Earth is healthy. It has a beautiful aroma. It smells of dreams and hopefulness. A handful of dirt has so much potential and is full of possibilities. You can grow with dirt, build on dirt, and so much more. Finding any opportunity to appreciate all that dirt can offer is important and fun.

You can follow One Straw Farm on Facebook on Instagram, or by visiting their website!

Earth Day Challenge

The Earth Day Get Dirty Challenge!

This month, we challenge you to get outside and GET DIRTY! Go outside and enjoy, explore, and learn. To stay green, there is no printable for this activity. A recipe for fun is listed below!

Ingredients:

  • you
  • a family member or friend
  • creativity
  • nature

Directions:

  • Make mud pies!
  • Go on a stick hunt.
  • Plant something.
  • Go on a nature walk and discover new things.
  • Visit a farmers market.
  • Eat outside!

Take a picture showing how you got dirty for this month’s challenge… and have a parent post it to social media and tag @TasteWiseKids and @CoolProgeny with #TWKAtHome!