Schoolyard Gardens image of teacher and students, photo courtesy University of Minnesota Extension

2018 Schoolyard Gardens Conference

Establishing Roots

Friday, March 2, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. (registration opens at 8am)
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

SCHOOLYARD GARDENS provide an imcomparable, hands-on opportunity for Educators to learn how to meet academic standards, engage with community partners, learn about agricultue, healthy eating, and cultural competency, and connect with natural systems. Whether you're a beginner or a schoolyard garden veteran, join us to learn innovative strategies for building, sustaining, and engaging diverse learners in a thriving schoolyard garden. 

Presented by the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener Program in collaboration with the Minnesota Schoolyard Garden Coalition.

Photo courtesy of University of Minnesota Extension

 $65 Arboretum Members & Conference Affiliates
$75 General Registration 
Fee includes Arboretum admission, lunch
and coffee breaks.
Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. and the Conference Welcome at 8:30 a.m.

View conference photos  

2018 Keynote Speaker Amanda Maria Edmonds
"Cultivating Health, Hope & Hard Work: How School Gardens Grounds Us in Hope for the Future"

Amanda Maria Edmonds

Amanda Maria Edmonds is the founding executive director of Growing Hope, a 15-year-old nonprofit dedicated to helping people grow and access healthy food.  Since 2014, she has also served as the Mayor of the City of Ypsilanti, Michigan. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, she co-founded a nonprofit called Snail while in high school, and served on her school board at age 16.  She has lived in Michigan since the mid 1990s, and is a twice alum from the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources & Environment. Growing Hope's farmers markets, home vegetable gardening program for low-income families, leadership training for community gardens, urban farm, and policy work are showing people that they can be the healthy change they wish to see in the world.  Growing Hope believes in giving people-- across lines of class and race and ability that usually divide us-- that chance to participate in positive change. She has served as a policy leader both as a gubernatorial appointee to the Michigan Food Policy Council and as Vice Chair of the Washtenaw Food Policy Council.  Edmonds travels nationally as a speaker and trainer in community food systems, organizational development, policy, program evaluation, and being a changemaker.


Stephanie Heim, University of Minnesota Extension, Amy Mastin from Laporte Schools, Tim Lutz from Kelliher Schools, and Kathy Connell from Wadena Schools
(Moderated by the Minnesota Schoolyard Garden Coalition Stewardship Team)

Sustainability Through Policy Panel
Kara Wattenun, Hopkins School District, (2017 Minnesota Innovator Award Winner)
"Incorporating SEL into Gardening"

Uli Koester & Deb Dilley 
Greater Minnesota Networking Lunch Presentation
Molly Butala, Minnesota Department of Education
"Farm to Early Care Works!" Multi-speaker panel
Lynn Olson and Susan Fleming, Extension Master Gardeners, Hennepin County 
"Building successful relationships between Schoolyard Gardens and Master Gardeners"
Kerry Crawford & Niko Gruss, Alice Smith Elementary
"Just Add Water: How to start a school garden and make it grow!"
Kirsten Saylor, Seeds for Success, Peter DeLong, Bruce Vento Elementary and Bhaskar Upadhyay, University of Minnesota Associate Professor of STEM Education
"School Garden Program for the Whole School: A Case Study of Bruce Vento Elementary""
Kathryn Sloan and Elizabeth Quackenbush
"The Green Thumb Initiative: Using Project Based Learning in the School Garden"
AJ Dombeck, Community Education Director and Amy Mastin, Middle School Science Teacher, LaPorte School
"Building a School and Community Garden"
Darcy Dahna, High School Agriculture & Plant Science Teacher and Jake Tietje, High School Principal, Windom Area Schools
"Hydroponic Tower Gardens for Education"
Erin Rupp, Pollinate Minnesota
"Pollinator Friendly School Grounds- Connecting Your Students to School Policy through Gardens"
Heidi Auel, Discovery Woods School, Brainerd
"Funding Your School Garden"
Judy Barka, AgCentric, Staples
"Integrating a Technology Trailer Into Your Classroom"
Cody Mastel & Megan Mastel, Land by Hand
"Gardens & Beyond: Permaculture Design for Schools, Families & Communities"
Meghan Holmes and Anna Edlund, Bluff Creek Elementary School
"From the Ground Up: Creation of a Parent-Run School Garden"
 Uli Koester, Midwest Food Connection
"Bringing the Whole School into the Garden"
Susan Hoeft, Linda Flanagan, Jodi Nordland
"Greenway Grows: A Recipe for a Healthy School & Community!"
Renee Willemsen and Josh Gorham, Duluth
"Growing Farm to School through Policy, Systems & Environmental Change"
Lida Casper, Melanie Shaw, Jody Peterson and Connie Schied, Riverside Community School, Rochester
"Engaging School and Community in Your Garden"
Mark Sorteberg, Dave Berger, Lisa Wong, Gayle Boswell & Rachel Beehler
Moderated by Lynne Hagen
"Gardening with Class: ISD. 15, St. Francis: Crossroads School Victory Garden"

Sam Johnson, Minnesota State Horticultural Society
"Finding Support Outside your School: Insights from the MSHS Garden-in-a-Box Program"
Sue Knott, Minnesota Ag in the Classroom
"Common Core in the Garden"
Michael McCullough, Project Sustainability and Dr. Mollika Sajady, University of Minnesota
"Vertical Gardens and Schools - A Natural Affinity"

The 2018 Schoolyard Garden Conference Planning Committee is currently looking for 10-12 school programs to participate in the second
Innovative Problem Solving Showcase. This year's winner will receive the Innovative Garden Award Plaque, promotion from the Schoolyard Garden Conference Web site and Minnesota Schoolyard Garden Coalition, and a chance to speak at the 2019 Schoolyard Garden Conference. If you are interested or know a program that would like to participate, please fill out the form linked above with the name, organization, a short abstract about your problem that was solved and the committee will be in touch!

Participants are also allowed to bring one student to present their exciting work. The range of issues solved could include no water on site, summer months, rabbits, funding, partnerships etc. Come share with us the problems that you have creatively solved!





Conference Agenda

For more information about schoolyard gardens
Visit the Minnesota Schoolyard Garden Coalition Facebook page for more information

Cancellation Policy: Registration cancellations must be made two weeks prior to class date in order to receive refund. A $5 processing fee will apply.

A certificate of completion for continuing education contact hours will be available to participants upon completion of the day.


Financial Sponsor:
Please contact Carrie Stowers at to discuss options and benefits for your organization.
Sponsoring Organization Guidelines

Endorse: This no-cost option shows your support by helping to promote the program to your constituents. Contact Carrie Stowers at to confirm your endorsement.
Endorsing Organization Guidelines

University of Minnesota Extension
Master Gardener Volunteer Program
Minnesota Department of Education
Minnesota State Horticulture Society
Youth Farm


Academy for Sciences and Agriculture
Middle School & High School

Anaphylaxis & Food Allergy Association of MN
Central Lakes College

Check & Connect, University of Minnesota

Civic League Day Nursery

Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy
College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
Crow Wing Energized
Edina Public Schools
Harvest Moon Edible Landscapes
Java Cycle
Jeffers Foundation
Kinderberry Hill Child Development Centers
Land by Hand
Midwest Food Connection
MN Action for Healthy Kids
Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom
Minnesota Association for Environmental Education
Minnesota Children and Nature Connection
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Minnesota Department of Health
Minnesota Green Schools Coalition
Monarch Joint Venture
Pollinate Minnesota
Roots Return Heritage Farm, LLC
SaveOurMonarchs Foundation
Seeds for Success
Synergy & Leadership Exchange
University of Minnesota Ramsey County Master Gardeners
University of Minnesota Extension Houston County Master Gardeners
University of Minnesota Monarch Lab


Country Inn & Suites By Carlson
Chanhassen, MN

Click here for additional area hotels


Financial hardship assistance may be available. Please call 612-301-1210 to inquire