Author hopes kids reap love of gardening, reading through book


For Bradley Zink, it all started with a seed.

An active volunteer at his son’s elementary school, Zink often reads to students and even helped build a butterfly garden at the campus. The garden project eventually led to his book, “It Starts With a Seed,” which he now shares with kids at local schools and libraries.

Zink will read his book and conduct a seed planting demonstration at 10 a.m. June 27 at the Del Mar Library, 1309 Camino Del Mar.

“I’m there to not only get kids interested in reading, but in gardening,” said Zink, who has lived in San Marcos since 2007.

Although Zink is a computer engineer from San Jose, his life forever changed the day his son, Alex, was born in 2009. He became a devoted stay-at-home dad.

When Alex, now 6, started school, Zink was right there alongside him. He continues to volunteer at Twin Oaks Elementary every week.

Because Zink has had a passion for books since childhood, he has shared his love of reading with his son and other students at the school. In 2014, he self-published his first children’s book, “Love … a Dove,” a book about animals, with pictures he took at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

To his delight, Twin Oaks Elementary students loved the book when he shared it with them.

“They were all so amazed and fell in love with it,” Zink said.

After Zink helped build a butterfly garden at the school, he began his second book, “It Starts With a Seed.” The book teaches children about the stages of plant growth, from seed to harvest.

Around the same time, school administrators invited Zink to four second-grade fieldtrips at San Marcos-based Home Town Farms, where he captured photos of the students.

“The amazing thing was a lot of the children had never seen a fruit or a vegetable growing on a plant before,” Zink said. “I saw amazement in their eyes. It gave me the idea to go to schools and not only read my book, but teach kids the different phases of a plant and how they can plant at home.”

As Zink finalized “It Starts With a Seed,” he made four customized versions of the book, along with photos, for each classroom that went on the field trips. Every student received a free copy.

To thank him for his work, the students created a handmade thank-you book, with messages about his book and pictures.

“This is where I get my payment from,” Zink said with a smile. “That’s why I do it for free. You can’t put a price on this.”

Zink’s time and talents have since been requested at other schools.

To date, Zink has held a variety of events at local schools, including fundraisers at San Marcos-based Growing Tree Children’s Center, as well as San Marcos Unified School District’s Carrillo, Joli Ann and Twin Oaks elementary schools. He sells his books during the fundraisers with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the schools.

Now, Zink is reaching out to other schools and organizations across the region, offering his services for free.

Zink’s other upcoming appearances include the Fairy Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 20 at the San Diego Botanic Garden and the Lemon Zest and Garlic Fest from noon to 5 p.m. July 18 at San Diego Waterfront Park.

Both of Zink’s books are also available on One dollar from each book sold online is donated to Twin Oaks Elementary School.