Episode 61: I Ate Sunshine for Breakfast

This week I’m chatting to author of the book I Ate Sunshine for Breakfast, Michael Holland. The book is a botanical and environmental textbook for children that makes learning about even quite complex topics such as plant scientific names seem like fun. I talk to Michael about activities you can do with children using stuff you can find in your cupboard, about some of the most engaging horticultural concepts for kids and how you can make learning entertaining. I start by asking Michael how he got into horticulture himself

About Michael Holland:

Expert ecologist, educator and author, Michael Holland FLS is on a mission to educate and inspire people from all walks of life about the powerful world of plants and the vital role they play in our daily lives. Michael’s first book, I Ate Sunshine for Breakfast is published by Flying Eye Books on
April 1 2020. Printed on Munken Arctic Paper and with ink using soya beans and linseeds, it provides an inspiring and accessible introduction to the wonderful world of plants and how they are relevant to our lives. Colourfully illustrated, it is packed with hints, tips, practical ideas and fun-filled activities to get children 7+ and their families informed, engaged and excited about plants.

Michael studied Ecology at Lancaster and Oregon State Universities and is a keen photographer, wildlife gardener and all-round composting nerd! Michael had a 25-year career at the eminent Chelsea Physic Garden in London, latterly as Head of Education for over 17 years. He has taught tens of thousands of people, aged 2 to 92, about the natural world. He is both a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London and of the London Environmental Educators’ Forum (LEEF) – both organisations that work tirelessly ensuring people from all walks of life are connected to nature and natural history. Michael has spoken at a number of global conferences; a highlight being invited to
talk at a botanical garden in Japan on subjects including ‘State of the Art Medicinal Plants’, ‘Container Gardening’, ‘London’s Parks & Gardens’ and ‘Five Plants that
Changed the World’.

Michael has delivered a herb-planting master class for the team at Jo Malone London for their Herb Garden perfumes cologne collection, and in 2003, developed the innovative and award-winning Shelf Life project, labelled by Head of Interpretation, Sharon Willoughby at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, as “the most effective piece of plant-based interpretation.”

What We Discuss:

Michael’s background in horticulture

The importance of the book having roots in science and botany as well as being fun

Some of the best experiments kids can do with plants

Michael’s favourite fact to reel a child in to horticulture

The Shelf Life project

Useful online resources



I Ate Sunshine for Breakfast by Michael Holland and Phillip Giordano – Flying Eye Books, 2020

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