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What Makes the Summit Unique?

What does it take to plan the first ever national school gardens summit? How can we create a gathering that is respectful, representative of, and accountable to our partners and participants? A committed, diverse, dynamic team of leaders from across the country is aiming to do just that! The Growing School Gardens Summit core planning team is working with three committees focusing on education and engagement, youth leadership, and local Denver connections. View all our Planning Teams Members.

These teams bring the Summit Commitments to life by centering planning around:

  • Creating a welcoming environment 
  • Exploring how to hold space to build an equitable and just movement 
  • Engaging with the local communities and economy 
  • Decreasing the summit’s environmental impact 
  • Centralizing the voices of young professionals
  • Acknowledging Native and indigenous people and their traditional lands the gathering will be hosted on

Committee members were inspired to engage in this complex work for a variety of reasons. Sedrick Burton from the Jones Valley Teaching Farm in Alabama is on the Youth Leadership Committee, which focuses on overseeing the scholarship application for young professionals, recruitment of young leaders and supporting programming tailored for this audience at the summit. Burton shared, “this gathering will help young professionals find ways to use farming to cultivate the minds of students and other young peers around them so that school gardens and school farming is a normality.”  

T.Marie King, also from Jones Valley Teaching Farm, shared that she’s involved “to bring my perspective of equity work, to assist in planning but most importantly to learn from my peers.” King is looking forward to “connecting with people doing the work in small counties to big cities. I believe iron sharpens iron and we’ll be able to do that at the GSG Summit.” Lauren Newman from City Blossoms, also on this team shares, “Conferences can be intimidating spaces to navigate and the wealth of information at your fingertips can be a bit overwhelming. I am excited that there will be intentional space created for young professionals, like myself, to get the most out of this incredible experience!” Kayden Bryant from Life Lab in California appreciates that “The planning team has really put so much care and effort into making this a space where you can share your own voice and learn from others.” 

The Education team is comprised of people in the garden education field who are skilled at crafting learning experiences, workshops and exchanges across all definitions of culture for large gatherings of people. Their focus has been on creating an inclusive and engaging agenda of workshops and lightning talks. Bianca Pineda from Global Gardens in Oklahoma is on this team and feels “the gathering is unique because it is focused on the lack of diversity within the gardening community.” Jenna Mobley from Tending Our Common Ground in Georgia expanded on this sharing “it has taken every single person’s unique perspective to make the agenda as strong as it is now.” Amelia Bird from Edible Schoolyard New Orleans, another member of this team, is excited for the summit because “school garden work can happen in so many formats, but at a gathering this wide, we’re all bound to find others whose program shape or challenges or strategic focus is aligned with ours.” Nathan Larson with Rooted, is on the Education team and is engaged because “This is a historic and monumental event, and I feel grateful for the opportunity to be involved in the planning process.” 

School gardens are grounded in place, and so highlighting the community and perspectives in and around Denver has been key. The local Denver team is focused on developing opportunities for local garden advocates to unite, and avenues to share local work through excursions and the food of local youth chefs. John Fisher from Life Lab is on this team and shares, “It has been incredible to connect with the multitude of school gardening programs in the Denver Area. I have been surprised by the varied types of programming taking place such as community/school garden hybrid models, school district programming, and county-level grant support. The Denver school garden scene is one of the strongest in the nation, it will be exciting to share what makes their strong school garden culture thrive!”

In addition to local school garden supporters, the summit will draw professionals from across the country, working in all areas of school gardening. Neha Shah, a teacher at Ann Arbor Public School in Michigan, and Lauren Maples from PEAS in Texas are on the Education Committee. Lauren thinks, “many of us work in regional silos, and this is a time and space where we can convene to learn and be inspired by each other.” Neha feels “gatherings like this can strengthen and validate the wonderful work that people often do that goes unnoticed or underappreciated.” Neha wants to” help to “bring my unique background and represent a diverse audience.” Will you bring your unique knowledge and perspective to the summit?

The Growing School Garden Summit is created by School Garden Leaders for School Garden Leaders!