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The Making of We Are the Gardeners


Our children’s book, We Are the Gardeners, is finally here! The kids and I have been working on this project for a little over a year, and I’m excited to be able to share a few of my favorite parts of the process.

Well before this book was conceptualized, the garden was a special place for me and the kids. Since they were little, we’ve always had some scope of garden in our yard—whether it was only several feet wide or much larger like the one we’re growing at the farm today. It has always been a place where I go to retreat or unwind, or to simply spend some time in nature—and of course any time my kids would join me was always more fun.

When I started to ask for their help in the garden, I found that, like me, as soon as their hands hit the soil they were hooked. Over the years, we’ve had to learn by trial and error because a garden is hard work—plain and simple. There have been times where we’ve all been frustrated and could have thrown in the towel, but thankfully, the garden has always called us back.

Once most of our kids were a bit older, I thought it would be sweet to create something with them. Funny enough, ever since Chip and I wrote our first book, The Magnolia Story, they’ve talked about how fun it would be to write a book of their own. As soon as we started talking about the potential of doing a children’s book, I knew it was a perfect project to take on with them. They immediately hopped on board, and each had a hand in helping with an aspect of it. For example, our oldest daughter, Ella, chose the illustrator! She saw some of Julianna Swaney’s work online and loved it immediately.

Below are some process shots of the book’s illustrations by Julianna. I love seeing each of the kids’ personalities so well captured—Crew’s included. We actually started this project before we knew Crew would be joining the family, so Julianna was kind enough to add him into the illustrations after he was born. She really brought our family to life on every page.

Whenever we’re choosing a cover for a book, we typically like to poll our office and get a pulse for what people like best and this cover was no different. The photo above was cover option number one, and the cover below was cover option number two. By now you know which one was the winner!

The kids and I had such a good time planning and writing this book together. My favorite part of the whole journey might have been recording the audiobook with all five of them after we finished the manuscript.

My hope for this book is that it inspires families to want to get out and connect in fun, creative ways—whether or not it’s in the garden. It could be sewing or painting or cooking together. Whatever it may be, at the end of the day there’s always something to learn and I believe taking the time to try something new together makes it all the more meaningful.

Click here to get your copy of We Are the Gardeners!