7th Annual Schoolyard Gardens Conference

2019 Schoolyard Gardens Conference
Essential Growth

Friday, March 1, 2019 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum | Chaska, MN

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SCHOOLYARD GARDENS provide an incomparable, hands-on opportunity for Educators to learn how to meet academic standards, engage with community partners, learn about agriculture, 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.

7th Annual Schoolyard Gardens Conference 

Over 370 teachers, school administrators, school food service professionals, Master Gardeners, parents, and other school garden supporters attend this annual conference to share ideas and resources for building and sustaining school gardens. From nutrition programming to building valuable community partnerships, the conference agenda highlights practical and inspirational tools from the leading experts and educators in Minnesota.

Schedule at a Glance
Schoolyard Garden Conference Agenda


Plant Locally, Grow Globally
Naomi Volain, Environmental Educator

Explore how your student’s Schoolyard Garden work is part of global education, citizenship, and Earth’s sustainability. Schoolyard Gardens are a microcosm of personal, health, and social emotional learning with far-reaching implications. Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Education provide a framework for the rich lessons of Schoolyard Gardens. 

Plenary Session 

Schoolyard Gardens: The Road to Success
Amy Mastin, National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization and the 2018 Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom Outstanding Teacher Award Winner Watch her inspirational story
Rachel Gray, Minnesota Ag in the Classroom Educator, Little Timber Farms, Northern Minnesota

Plenary Panel

Essential Staff, Summer Paid Coordinators
Minnesota Schoolyard Gardens Coalition Stewardship Team (Moderators)
Maya Lemon, Columbia Heights Public Schools Job Description
Shelly Nelson, Aitkin Schools Job Description
Jason Reese, Intermediate District 287 Job Description
Caroline Venis, Wadena Public Schools Job Description

Breakout Sessions (50 minutes)

  • Top 5 Things You Should Know about Growing Vegetables in Minnesota In this presentation, Christy Marsden will discuss the basics of growing vegetables in Minnesota by explaining the top five considerations of any vegetable garden. Attendees will learn how to set the garden up for success by considering the basic needs of the plants.
    Christy Marsden

  • Gardens as a Tool for Observing a Changing Climate
    Learn how a school garden can be a tool for observing the world around you and to see how the climate is changing. Climate Generation will present ways that you can use a garden to understand, monitor, adapt, and mitigate to a changing climate. Educators will leave with resources and activities (supported by MN standards) to use with their K-12 students.  
    Jenna Totz

  • The Student Run Farm: Developing Programs Beyond Campus
    Tim Wilson is a community food system advocate from Illinois and will discuss how schoolyard garden graduates can continue to develop their communities by working with larger organizations and find employment and opportunity in local agriculture. Examples with be given on urban agriculture and food distribution, as well as healthcare and nutrition programs for rural communities.
    Tim Wilson

  • Raingardens and Minneapolis Public Schools

    This presentation will cover the basics of raingarden function, planning and tips as well as highlight some Metro Blooms programs that have integrated and supported raingardens within the Minneapolis Public Schools. See examples of how our Sustainable Land Care program has provided training opportunities and maintenance services to the Minneapolis Public Schools in conjunction with the City of Minneapolis' Stormwater Credit Program.

    Tara Hanlon-Nevins and Mike Morrison, Metro Blooms

  • Nature Based Education: The Science Behind Current Trends

    No matter your teaching environment, you can implement nature based experiences! Together we will take a look at the current trends in nature based education and dissect the research. Most importantly, leave with constructive ideas as to how we can implement nature based experiences in our respective learning environments.

    Ian Williams

  • Engaging Voices, Empowering Youth: Sustainability and Entrepreneurship in the Classroom
    Spark-Y is a nonprofit whose mission is to empower youth in hands-on education rooted in sustainability and entrepreneurship. We operate three branches: school programs, an annual internship, and the urban agriculture lab. When we use sustainable systems such as aquaponics and greenhouses to facilitate hands-on education, we sometimes see barriers such as low student engagement and investment. In a youth population that is disenfranchised, we make specific efforts to engage their voice and choice. In an Edison High School biology classroom, we have implemented individual Aquaponics Mini Kits as a solution to overcome youth disinterest. We give each student the agency to build and maintain their own mini aquaponics system, learning and growing through their own errors and successes. Youth gain an individual sense of empowerment, making their experience more memorable and meaningful.

    Lynn Hu, Spark-Y

  • Visit 75 Minnesota Schoolyard Gardens: What We've Learned
    Wouldn't you like to have the time to visit over 75 schoolyard gardens? Wouldn't it be nice to interview the teachers, Master Gardeners and principals involved? Well, we have done just that. From tiny plots against a distant schoolyard fence, to gardens that count their size in acres, we've seen them all. We've recorded amazing diversity in these gardens, from how they are managed over the summer to what they plant, how they are watered and even how they are decorated... From inner city schools to tiny small towns, it's a trip you won't want to miss. So come on our tour with us. There will be many short video clips, many photos, and time to ask questions.

    Galen Erickson, Jeffers Foundation

  • Gardening Is Science: 5th Grade Gardens at Mora Elementary
    The Kanabec County Master Gardeners and Mora Elementary are in the third year of a collaborative project bringing gardening into the school. This program brings local resources and expertise from the community into the schools. Gardening is Science began by reviewing the MN Dept of Ed benchmarks for science in the elementary grades. Plant sciences are prominent in 3rd and 5th grade benchmarks. There are raised vegetable beds for each 5th grade classroom with several accompanying lesson plans and field trips. The 3rd grade fruit gardens will be established this spring. Teachers are able to fit the program into existing curriculum while utilizing community resources. This session will discuss the collaboration between the teachers, administrative staff and the Master Gardeners, and walk participants through a year in the gardening program.

    Valerie Prax, Kanabec County Master Gardener and Kayla Thor, Mora 5th Grade Teacher and Lead Teacher in the Mora Gardens

  • Nutrients in, Illness Out: Safe Food Handling in the School Garden
    Food safety in the garden is important... and achievable! In this presentation, Anne will discuss the 'why' and 'how' of food safety in the garden. She'll provide an introduction to Good Agricultural Practices, or GAPs, which are practical, science-based steps that school garden facilitators can take to reduce risks of foodborne illnesses in fresh produce. While this presentation will not be an official GAPs training, it will provide a great introduction to the topic of food safety in the garden and empower facilitators and volunteers to move towards best practices for risk reduction, regardless of their starting point!
    Anne Sawyer, University of Minnesota Extension

  • A Growing Year at the Wadena-Deer Creek School Greenhouse
    A year in review at the Wadena-Deer Creek School's Greenhouses. From planting to harvesting and everything in between. Caroline is sharing the successes and trials found at the school greenhouse.
  • Caroline Venis, Wadena Public School
    MPR story Zucchini everywhere: School-grown produce teaches students to eat their veggies

  • Experiential Learning, Academics, and Life Skills: Empowering Youth to Make a Positive Impact on Their Community
    The Green Thumb Initiative (GTI) is a collaborative, integrated urban farm at Rochester Alternative Learning Center that strengthens students’ lives by providing meaningful work with dignity and by promoting healthy and sustainable agriculture. Students have worked together to address food inequity by collaborating with community partners to increase access to healthy food, free of charge.
    Kathryn Sloan and Elizabeth Quackenbush, The Green Thumb Initiative at Rochester Alternative Learning Center

  • Taking the Classroom Outside: Outdoor Education for Classroom Educators
    Outdoor learning environments are at the forefront of educational innovation but many classroom teachers feel unequipped to move their classroom outside. Learning experiences in the natural world can support young people’s interests and needs while at the same time strengthening skills that they use during academic learning. This experiential training will give participants skills to facilitate dynamic, nature-centered experiences in outdoor spaces and tools for encouraging and offering resources to fellow educators.

    Maya Lemon, District Agricultural Specialist for Columbia Heights Public Schools and facilitates the Blooming Heights Edible Schoolyard and Outdoor Classroom program

  • Growing a More Diverse Generation of Landscape Designers, from Garden to Gallery
    Join the excitement around a new school-based program designed to cultivate the next generation of landscape designers. The Junior Landscape Designer Program partners middle/high-school youth with landscape design and allied professionals to participate in a landscape design course teaching the fundamentals of design. Participating young people will learn collaboratively from professionals, work with clients and install a garden. Program alumni will have a new set of interdisciplinary skills, gain exposure to new professional pathways and be recommended for local job opportunities.

    Luke Nichols, Travis Van Liere Studio/Master Gardener and Robyn Swenson, Ironwood Stone and Gardens

  • Hydroponics is Where It's At! Using a Soil-Less System for Indoor Gardening Year Round
    In 2017, students in the Brooklyn Center Early College Academy (grades 9-12) Leadership class partnered with a Hennepin County Master Gardener and a farm educator from Gale Woods Farm to develop an indoor hydroponics system. They started by growing a large variety of vegetables and herbs and after much trial and error, winnowed their hydroponics garden down to primarily salad greens. This year, the greens are sold to the school cafeteria and served in the salad bar, and the funds from the sales sustains the project. In this session, teachers, community partners and students will discuss how they got this project started, the logistics of maintaining a hydroponics system, and answer questions about how to get started on an indoor hydroponics system of your own.

    Bonnie Lohman, Farm to School Coordinator, Brooklyn Center Community School District and Christine Salokar and Hana Blissett

  • Cream of the Crop: Using Food and School Gardens in the Classroom
    Discover how to help your students dig the earth, tend the soil, grow their own food and achieve Minnesota’s K-12 academic standards! Participants will complete a variety of specialty crop and garden-themed, hands-on activities applicable to a wide range of learners. All attendees will receive a FREE copy of the Minnesota School Garden Guide and NEW Cream of the Crop- Specialty Crop Lesson Booklet.

    Keri Sidle, Minnesota Ag in the Classroom


Pair the Schoolyard Gardens Conference with

Garden to plate Conference

Garden-To-Plate Food Conference

Schoolyard Garden Conference Details

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Questions About Registration?

Call 612-301-1210
Email: ArbEdu@umn.edu

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.