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Contact: Barb DeGroot: 952-443-1459

Minnesota Commissioners of Agriculture and Education To Kick Off

Schoolyard Garden Conference 2014 at the MN Landscape Arboretum

Chanhassen, MN (Jan. 20, 2014) – Building on the strong response to last year’s event,  the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, collaborating with the Schoolyard Garden Coalition and Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program, will present the second annual Schoolyard Gardens Conference on Friday, Feb. 28, at the Arboretum.  Themed “Cultivating the Future,” the conference will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Oswald Visitor Center.

Minnesota’s Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius and Commissioner of Agriculture Dave Frederickson will kick off the event. Immanuel Jones, director of sustainability for Minneapolis Community and Technical College, will discuss EcoCity Minnesota, an organization changing the way youth are perceived through gardening.

John Fisher from LifeLab, a nationally recognized organization supporting school gardens around the nation, will be keynote speaker, presenting lessons learned in both practice and policy. He will describe national trends and research findings on the value of school gardens not only for the students, but for the entire school and its community.

Workshop presenters will address challenges faced by teachers, principals, superintendents, food-service professionals and parents, in creating and sustaining such gardens.

“The conference is structured to offer an ideal setting in which schoolyard garden supporters can learn to use a garden as an outdoor, living laboratory for hands-on learning across disciplines. In a schoolyard garden, kids engage all of their senses and educators bring learning concepts alive in a way not possible in other settings,” says Tim Kenny, Arboretum director of education.

Kenny adds, “A schoolyard garden appeals to numerous learning styles and it means that teachers can connect learning standards in the most effective ways. I’ve watched it happen again and again, and at this conference, participants will be able to engage with experts and others who have put these principles into action.”

In addition to a day filled with plenary and interest-track sessions designed to help school gardeners reach the full potential of this educational asset, the conference offers an opportunity for current schoolyard garden champions to present their work in poster sessions. This year’s conference features an “Answer Room,” where experts will be on hand to answer questions and talk about plants, curriculum, garden design, training opportunities, funding and other schoolyard garden resources. The conference is geared to educators, volunteers, nutritionists, parents and all interested parties. 

Learn more and register at

Or call 952-443-1422. Conference tuition is $60 Arboretum members and conference affiliates, $70 general

registration – discounts available for teams of three from the same school.

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, the largest public garden in the Upper Midwest and a premier northern arboretum, is part of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota and a community and national resource for horticultural and environmental information, research, and public education. It is located nine miles west of I-494 on Highway 5 in Chanhassen.  —END—