Storytelling Through Public Gardens

The Friends of Allen Centennial Garden present their third annual spring horticulture symposium, a full day of exceptional lectures by four leading industry experts in public gardens. This year focuses on the art and the science of storytelling through public gardens and will take place on April 14 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Mendota Room of the Dejope Residence Hall at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

There will be four distinguished speakers including Peter Hatch, Emeritus Director of Gardens and Grounds at Monticello, estate of Thomas Jefferson. Monticello’s 1,000-footlong terraced vegetable garden became an experimental laboratory, an Ellis Island of new and unusual vegetable novelties from around the globe. This garden resulted in a revolutionary cuisine in the kitchen at Monticello. Restored in 1984, the garden—and Thomas Jefferson’s legacy—continue to inspire the farm to table movement today.

“Peter is a dynamic speaker, bringing history to life through his horticultural stories. The legacy of Thomas Jefferson influences gardens to this day, including the popular farm-to-table movement,” says Ben Futa, Allen Centennial Garden Executive Director.

Other speakers are Shari Edleson (Penn State Arboretum), Ian Simpkins (Vizcaya) and Jeff Downing (Mt. Cuba Center). Each will tell a unique horticultural story from their garden with a focus on their own communities’ natural and cultural commonwealth.

“We are thrilled to welcome this stellar line-up of experts. Each understands the importance of recognizing and integrating the “culture” in horticulture, connecting people to plants and one another,” Futa says.

New this year, symposium participants have the opportunity to interact with the speakers through an evening at One Alumni Place, adjacent to Alumni Park on Friday, April 13 from 4 to 6 p.m. Hosted in partnership with the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA), participants will learn about the personal and professional evolution of each speaker. Tickets to this preview experience are free with purchase of a ticket to the main event on Saturday, April 14. Tickets to the preview must be claimed in advance; tickets are limited. Visit for more information on preview tickets.

Sponsors of the event include Avant Gardening and Landscaping, Madison Area Master Gardeners, Madison Block and Stone, Purple Cow Organics, Madison Trust for Historic Preservation, Mendota Lake House and Landscape Forms.

Tickets for the symposium go on sale January 15 to Friends of Allen Centennial Garden (FACG) members and January 21 for Madison Area Master Gardeners members. Tickets open to the general public on Feb. 1. Registration is $110 and will be accepted until March 27. Register here: FACG members and UW–Madison students receive a reduced rate.

For more information on the HortiCULTURAL Landscapes Symposium, contact Ben Futa, Executive Director of the Allen Centennial Garden at

Story by Kaitlin McIntosh originally published in ecals

Experiential Learning Developing Relationships with Nature

With a heavy emphasis on getting the kids outdoors and having an integral component of the developmental curriculum being learning through inquiry, the University of Wisconsin Preschool Lab found a great partner in the department of Horticulture.  This time, taking advantage of Christy Stewart’s expertise in bee identification, we coordinated an activity with a group of 3 and 4 years old.

With a combination of active listening, group discussion, Q&A, and hands-on explorations, Christy masterfully engaged the preschoolers into an embodied experience that challenged the sight, the touch, and the smell.  Active learning for preschoolers, pure and simple, right there!

  • Where do bees live?
  • Do they all live in hives?  In large groups?
  • Are there solitary bees?
  • What do they feed on?
  • Where are you most likely to find them?
  • How many types of bees are there in the world?  In Wisconsin?

Christy was able to keep her audience captive.  The kids were very good at taking turns to ask her the most interesting questions.  Interspersed in her talk, Christy passed a sample of a leaf cutter bee’s nest, a bumblebee nest, as well as a little box containing specimens of bees, wasps and flies.

And then, the icing on the cake: searching for bees in the green space in front of the School of Human Ecology.  Armed with a lot of energy, curiosity, magnifier lenses, and bug observation boxes, the kids followed Christy with her net to see what they could find.  She centered her swing, and in the blink of the eye, she had caught a small metallic green sweat bee, flipped the net to ensure it wouldn’t escape and transferred efficiently to a small container for the kids to watch.

It is never too late to start talking about the diversity of plants and animals and their roles in our ecosystems.  The activity concluded with the kids receiving a Bee Identification Guide to further their explorations at home.

This activity was organized by Claudia Calderon of the Department of Horticulture.

Master Gardeners Extend Knowledge to Communities

MADISON — Lorre Kolb: Master Gardener Volunteers, learning about plants and making a difference in their communities. We’re visiting today with Mike Maddox, Director of Wisconsin Master Gardener Program, University of Wisconsin-Extension, and I’m Lorre Kolb. Mike, what is the Master Gardener Volunteer Program?

Mike Maddox: The Master Gardener Program is a program in which we’re training community members, interested in gardening, some of the foundational topics that any horticulturist would need to know. But, in return for this learning, we’ve asked for them to go out into their communities and help us extend that knowledge to other community members.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Lorre Kolb: So, what is the connection between Master Gardeners and UW-Extension?

Mike Maddox: Well, the Master Gardener Program is a UW-Extension program. It has a 40-year history connected with Extension. It started with an Extension educator in Washington state, in which he trained individuals to help him answer questions, because the amount of new questions they had coming in from the developing suburbs at the time was more than what his role was able to do. It came into Wisconsin in the late 70s, early 80s, primarily to train individuals to help respond to the growing number of questions coming in from the public. But, it has evolved over that time to very active participation in the communities. They are using gardening to make some sort of difference in their communities.

Lorre Kolb: How do communities benefit from Master Gardener Volunteers?

Mike Maddox: To understand the role Master Gardeners are now playing in their communities, we also have to start with the role plants have in our communities. Research now shows there are economic, environmental, and health benefits of having plants in the places we live, work, and play. So, community gardens, urban forestry, downtown beautification projects – all this plays a role in making our communities healthy, happy places to live. Master Gardeners are now playing a lot of that role in providing that greening. They’re coming in and are the forces to do that school community garden or taking charge in making your city like a tree city USA and all the benefits that come with an urban forest. They also have that traditional role of helping respond to the questions that come in, helping people make informed, educated decisions – making the right plant for the right place kind of choices. So, hopefully reducing the number of invasive species we’re introducing to the environment. They’re having conversations with people on how many trees to put in, or where to plant them, or how to plant them correctly so you get the long term environmental benefits.

Lorre Kolb: If someone wants to become a Master Gardener Volunteer, what should they do?

Mike Maddox: You should start by visiting your local county UW-Extension office. Training consists of about 36 hours and as part of that you are expected to return a minimum of 24 hours of volunteer service in your community on select projects.

Lorre Kolb: We’ve been visiting today with Mike Maddox, Director of Wisconsin Master Gardener Program, University of Wisconsin-Extension, and I’m Lorre Kolb.

— Mike Maddox, Director of Wisconsin, Master Gardener Program and Lorre Kolb, UW-Extensio

Source:  Morning Ag Clips, June 19, 2017

Calderón Recipient of Increasing Study Abroad Grant

Dr. Claudia Calderón, assistant faculty associate in the Department of Horticulture, received a $25,000 grant from the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund to develop a new study abroad program in Guatemala. The Innovation Fund aims to increase study abroad opportunities between the U.S. and the rest of the western hemisphere. Dr. Calderón’s proposal, developed in partnership with the Universidad Rafael Landivar in Guatemala, outlines an innovative model of study abroad between the two universities and will include a faculty-led field study, service-learning and international internships. In addition, the Morgridge Center for Public Service awarded Claudia $4,500 to support the community-based learning component of the course proposal.

The three-credit course, Community Based Learning and Sustainable Food Systems, will include service-learning projects involving local community partners to promote participatory approaches to environmental stewardship while international internships will reinforce academic learning through practical applications of world issues pertaining to food systems. An analogous program will be coordinated through Universidad Rafael Landivar. Dr. Calderón is currently the Program Leader/Instructor for UW Tropical Horticulture in Costa Rica and Panama, a two-week program offered during winter break which provides a framework for discussion of issues related to tropical horticulture, such as sustainability, cropping systems, climate change, food security, global health, nutrition and traditional medicine.

Press Release

IPM and NPM Programs Honored for Display

John Shutske, Wisconsin Farm Technology Days Board chair, presents the 2016 Donald R. Peterson Award to Roger Schmidt and Mimi Broeske.

It’s not often that people can have their picture taken with a ten foot tall goat or be able to pose in a pen with pigs and not get dirty, but it was possible for people who visited the University of Wisconsin Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Nutrient Management Programs (NPM) booth at the 2016 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days.

Using an iPad and some creativity to run a photo booth where visitors could pose and interact with images of farm animals, IPM/NPM staff demonstrated the computer power that simple mobile devices have and explained how the University of Wisconsin-Extension uses digital technology to be flexible and relevant to the needs of farmers, including developing apps for farmers.

“UW-Extension doesn’t manufacture giant farm machinery,” said Roger Schmidt, UW-Extension computer specialist at UW-Madison, “But we do create research and foster community relationships that help farmers reap bountiful harvests, earn more money and allow people to eat the best food the earth can grow sustainably.”

The IPM and NPM exhibit, which provided information about free smartphone apps developed for agriculture by these two programs, received the 2016 Donald R. Peterson Technology Transfer Award. Individuals recognized for their efforts with this display were Roger Schmidt, UW-Extension computer specialist at UW-Madison and Mimi Broeske, UW-Madison senior editor.

NPM and IPM mobile apps include Wisconsin’s Corn N Rate Calculator, N Price Calculator, Crop Calculators for Corn, NPK Credits – Manure and Legume Nutrient Credit Calculator, Soybean Replant Calculator, and an IPM toolkit. The apps are available for both Apple and Android devices.

The award was presented at the annual Wisconsin Farm Technology Days Board of Directors meeting in April 2017.

The Donald R. Peterson Award recognizes outstanding educational effectiveness and impact via an interactive exhibit and activities at Wisconsin Farm Technology Days. To receive this award, groups must successfully engage audiences around topics such as: effectively using new management tools, processes, or concepts; incorporating new technologies into a modern farm operation; or issues that challenge contemporary agriculture and our natural resource base.

The Donald R. Peterson Wisconsin Farm Technology (Progress) Days Technology Transfer Award was established in honor of Don Peterson, UW-Madison College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) Professor and Associate Dean. Peterson was Chair of the Board of Directors from 1975-1993 and Executive Director of Wisconsin Farm Progress Days from 1993-1998.

The Award memorializes Peterson’s diligent efforts to encourage CALS faculty and staff to convey the fruits of College research and knowledge to the public through Wisconsin Farm Technology Days.

This post originally published on the UW Extension Website

Collaboration with Wunk Sheek (Native student association)

Professor Irwin Goldman, along with undergraduate assistant Iszie Tigges-Green, recently grew and harvested tobacco plants from seeds provided by Jeff Metoxen of Oneida Farm. The plants were germinated in Goldman’s greenhouse and then transplanted to the West Madison Agricultural Research Center.

Patty Loew, Professor in the Department of Life Sciences communication was instrumental in organizing the collaboration.  Student members of Wunk Sheek will save the seeds to plant again this year. The impetus for the project was and is to grow tobacco to be used as a gift to elders and tribal partners when UW-Native nations collaborations take place.

Are you smarter than an Otter?

On November 23rd, Faculty Associate, Claudia Irene Calderon, and Postdoctoral Fellow, Shelby Ellison, organized a carrot tasting with 12 three to five year olds from the UW Preschool Lab Otter class. The event took place in the DC Smith Conservatory where the children tasted orange, purple, red, white, and yellow carrots and learned about how the carrot color translates into the nutritional benefit it can provide when eaten.

Many of the children were excited to taste the different colored carrots and a few appeared to favor the less traditional purple types. In addition to tasting, the Otters enjoyed carrot themed story time, were able to pick out vegetable stamps, and enjoyed exploring the DC Smith Conservatory. The children returned to the UW Preschool lab with more carrots to sample and a nutritional fact sheet to share with their families.

Photos by Florencia Bannoud