10th Annual Spring Garden Conference- Thyme for Gathering

Thank you to everyone who helped make our 10th Annual Spring Garden Conference a great success!

Join us on March 19th for our
10th Annual Spring Garden Conference – Thyme for Gathering

Held this year at the BP Energy Center, 900 E Benson Blvd. Doors open at 8:45 am and sessions begin at 9:30 am.

Cost $85 Student, $120 Member, $135 Non-member

Spring Conference Program

The annual Spring Garden Conference is an excellent resource for both novice and expert gardeners wanting to learn more about gardening in Alaska.

2016 Conference Sponsors


Some of our speakers and their topics include:

Les BrakeCoyote Garden: The Spring Show

Les Photo

 Les Brake is an ice man,  gardener, photographer,  and writer from Willow, and his partner constructs handsome rustic furniture. Between the two of them, their work has appeared in roughly twenty magazines and books, including Plant-driven Design, by Lauren and Scott Ogden.

Les will be taking us on a tour of his spring garden which features thousands of bulbs and other early flowers. Thinking that spring is too often neglected in the Alaska garden, Brake hopes to inspire other gardeners to pack their plots with as many plants as possible. In addition to flower and foliage suggestions for the spring garden, soil improvement will also be discussed.


Tim MeyersMeyers Farm: Feeding the YK Delta

Tim Meyers Photo

Tim and Lisa Meyers have been farming in Bethel for about 10 years. They have gone from a small family garden to growing about 65,000 lbs of food last year. They are now wholesaling locally grown produce to the stores in Bethel. They also run a twice a week, year-round, farmers market. In addition, Tim and Lisa ship fresh produce to the surrounding villages weekly.

Tim will share with you what the Meyers Farm in Bethel has advanced to and ways they have helped increase food production in Bethel and the YK Delta.

Julie RileyPropagating Herbs and ABG Herb Garden: Lessons Learned

 Julie Riley grew her first vegetable garden by reading the back of seed packets the summer she turned 18. She now dedicates her professional life to teaching people how to garden and works as the Horticulture Agent for the UAF Cooperative Extension Service in Anchorage.

Julie will be speaking twice at this year’s Conference! Join her as she leads a discussion on propagating herbs. Learn which herbs need to be started in February and which seeds to sow the end of April. Surface planting of tiny seeds, stratification of difficult to start species, crown divisions and getting your cuttings at the grocery start are all part of Julie’s repertoire of propagation tips.


Julie will also reflect back on what she’s learned from her years volunteering in ABG’s herb garden. She plans to cover a hodge-podge of topics, i.e., moose repeatedly selected bronze fennel as their favorite; female kiwi flowers have male parts. You’ll go away knowing which perennials are the hardiest, which biennials you’ll never have to plant in your garden again and how to grow cilantro so it won’t bolt.

Mary Kate ReederGrowing Garlic in Alaska
Mary Kate Reeder Photo

Mary Kate grew up moving all over the place and at each location her dad had them plant fruits and vegetables that were native to the area. Her passion for good homegrown food grown responsibly has followed her into adulthood and into her graduate work!

Mary Kate will give a brief history of garlic, descriptions of different varieties, how to grow garlic in Alaska, and a quick summary of her research on garlic in the ABG plots. Mary Kate’s will be the best smelling session by far!

Ellen Vande Visse & Michelle WilburTeas to Nourish Your Plants
Ellen V photo 2

Ellen Vande Visse

Since 1987, Ellen has been training sustainable and organic growers through Mat Su College, UAA Anchorage, and her own Good Earth Garden School.  Ellen has raised organic vegetables for market, sold Actively Aerated Compost Tea to farmers and farmers markets, writes a garden column for the Frontiersman, and offers how-to workshops based on her book, Ask Mother Nature, a Conscious Gardener’s Guide.

Michelle Wilber

Michelle Wilber

Michelle Wilber coordinates Alaska Community Action on Toxics organic gardening work.  This includes  Yarducopia – a successful community- and garden-building program in Anchorage, organic gardening workshops, and brewing compost tea. chelle has a science education, and has been a long time gardening and Permaculture enthusiast.

This dynamic duo will be tackling the topic of compost teas. Worm tea.  Manure tea.  Herbal extract tea.  Compost tea. Yikes, just what are all these home-made “teas”? Do they actually fertilize plants? Do they truly stop disease? Which one is best? How much do I apply? Can I make them myself? See the friendly microbes through Michelle’s microscope with your own beady eyes and learn the answers to all of these questions!

Cathy SageHerb Garden Design
Cathy Sage Photo

Cathy Sage was part of the team who designed the ABG herb garden 20 years ago. She grew most of the herbs initially planted in the garden. She currently volunteers at ABG and the Bird Treatment and learning Center.


Cathy will guide you through the basic elements of designing your own herb garden.  Come and learn how different elements can change the look of your garden and help you decide what would work best in a home herb garden and what is best for a public garden such as ABG.

Leslie ShallcrossHerbs as Medicine
 Leslie Shallcross

Leslie Shallcross is a registered dietitian and public health nutritionist with a 30 +year career in health promotion and disease prevention . She currently works for the university of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service as the Health, Home and Family Development faculty in the Anchorage District. Since coming to Alaska in 1999, she has enjoyed learning about and eating Alaska’s local powerhouse vegetables and wild bounty.

Leslie will share what we know and don’t know about herbs and health. She will discuss medicinal qualities and uses of common herbs.

Mary Goddard & Lauren FetzerDining With Delicious Local Edibles
Mary Goddard Picture

Mary Goddard

Mary Goddard is a native to Southeast Alaska. She is a Film maker, jewelry artist and mother and cherishes the moments she gets to delve into the life of plants. She is inspired daily to forage, use and cook with these amazing plants. Her passion has led her to starting up Plant Guru with Lauren, who also shares this love of plants. Check out their website www.plantguru.org to see some of their recipes.

Lauren Fetzer

Lauren Fetzer

 Lauren believes that by sharing her knowledge of food and plants she can help better the lives of the people around her. Her love for the outdoors began when she was young and her mother would take her morel hunting in the Appalachian mountains. From there she studied ethnobotany and psychology in college. Afterwards, on a whim she moved to Sitka, Alaska. Here she fell in love with the lush dense forest and all it had to offer.

Dining with delicious local edibles is easier than you think. Mary and Lauren will stir up your creativity for breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas using edibles you can harvest yourself. Come taste some of their creations and be inspired!

Debbie Hinchey- Tips and Tricks for the Gardener

Debbie Hinchey

Debbie Hinchey has been a professional gardener in Alaska since 1974 and acquired her Interdisciplinary Master of Science in Horticulture from UAF. In 1985, she started Debbie’s Horticulture Service, but now is semi-retired, gardening more at home and as a community service.  She is currently active in many gardening clubs in the Anchorage area, including serving as President of the Alaska Rose Society.  Debbie was a Founding Mother of the Alaska Botanical Garden and has been involved since 1985.

There are many myths and crazy suggestions that have crossed her analytical path.  She will share tips on what she learned by combining observations, science, experience and conservation with a much too busy life.

Jeff Lowenfels- Mycorrhizal Fungi

Lord of the roots!.jeff photo

Jeff Lowenfels is the longest running garden columnist in the world. He has been writing a weekly column for the Anchorage Daily News since 1977. A member of the Garden Writers of America Hall of Fame, he is a leading proponent of gardening using the concepts of the soil food web. After working at his father’s hobby farm in his youth, he developed a life-long love of gardening that has led him to writing countless articles, hosting a popular gardening television show, and founding a successful program for soup kitchens called “Plant a Row for the Hungry”.  He is the author of two best selling organic gardening books with a third on the way.

Jeff’s third book is devoted to the topic of mycorrhizal fungi. So is his talk!

Cheryl Shroyer- Capsicum

Cheryl Shroyer Photo

Cheryl is a self-proclaimed chili head from way back and follows pepper news like a true addict.  She first grew peppers in her suburban Philadelphia organic garden over 30 years ago and found peppers intriguing.  Cheryl holds many awards for her peppers,  pepper plants and pepper culinary adventures. She is a Master Gardener, on the Board of the AMGA, a member and past president of the Anchorage Garden Club, one of a handful of judges in Alaska certified by the National Garden Clubs and  judges crops at the Alaska State Fair and other Alaska Garden Club shows.  Cheryl won the Best Habanero Pepper for several years in a row at the Philadelphia Horticulture Societies Harvest Show so she knows about hot.


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