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Master Gardener Society of Oakland County's third Annual Educational Garden Conference

Press Release – Master Gardener Society of Oakland County, Inc.
For Immediate Release – 1/12/15
Contact: Sally Bolle, Vice President, MGSOC, 248-909-8668 or Denise Brown, Chairperson at:
Topic:  Master Gardener Society of Oakland County, Inc. 2015 Educational Conference
     The Master Gardener Society of Oakland County, Inc. is pleased to announce that tickets are on sale for their 3rd Annual Educational Garden Conference “Gardening and All That Jazz – Innovation and Sustainability For Your Garden.” Ticket sales are brisk and only a limited number are available so don’t miss out on this opportunity. The date is Saturday, April 25, 2015 and based on the success of last year’s event, it will quickly sell out so you’ll want to purchase your tickets soon. Early bird tickets are $70, after March 14 they will be $80.
      The educational conference is a day-long event and will be held at Oakland Schools Conference Center, 2111 Pontiac Lake Road, in Waterford. This conference is open to the public; you need not be a Master Gardener to attend.
     For more information, visit the home page of our website, There are two ways to purchase your ticket from the site. You can buy the tickets via online registration (through Intuit) using a credit card with the link on the home page. Or, you can print the registration form and mail a check to their registrar. Both options are available under “News and Events” from the home page. If you have questions, please direct them to our registrar via e-mail, Nancy Strodl, at: Brochures are available at the monthly MGSOC, Inc. General Meetings and at key gardening locations around the area. The important thing is to sign up, and do it soon!
     In addition to the outstanding keynote speakers, the event features live jazz featuring Dave Bennett, clarinet prodigy from Waterford, and Kerry Price, jazz /blues vocalist and pianist from Royal Oak.
     This event also includes a large garden market of many local vendors and artisans selling garden related artwork and plants. Continental breakfast and lunch is included.
     As in past years, this year’s keynote speakers will again include innovative, nationally-known speakers: Will Allen, Matthew Benson and Kerry Ann Mendez. They are:
Will Allen     
     Will Allen is an urban farmer who is transforming the cultivation, production and delivery of healthy foods to under-served urban populations. As the son of a sharecropper, former professional basketball player, ex-corporate sales leader and longtime farmer, he is recognized as a national leader in urban agriculture and food policy. After a brief career in professional basketball and a number of years in corporate marketing at Procter & Gamble, Will Allen returned to his roots as a farmer, using his retirement package to purchase a plot of inner-city land with greenhouses, where he established and functions as the CEO of the country’s preeminent urban farm and non-profit organization, Growing Power. 
     At Growing Power and in community food projects across the nation and around the world, Allen promotes the belief that all people, regardless of their economic circumstances, should have access to fresh, safe, affordable and nutritious foods at all times. Using methods he has developed over a lifetime, Allen trains community members to become community farmers, assuring them a secure source of good food without regard to political or economic forces.  
     In 2008, Allen was named a John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow, a “genius grant,” only the second farmer ever to be so honored. He is also a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, and in February 2010, he was invited to the White House to join First Lady Michelle Obama in launching Let’s Move! –  her signature leadership program to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity in America.  In May 2010, Time magazine named Will one of Time 100 World’s Most Influential People.  In 2011, Allen was named one of the “World’s Most Powerful Foodies” by Michael Pollan and Forbes Magazine in its World Power Issue and the NEA Security Benefit Corporation Award for Outstanding Service to Public Education in 2012 for his work with children, teachers and schools.  
     Allen also experienced an illustrious career in sports.   In 1966, he was a member of the Richard Montgomery High School State Championship Basketball Team and named to the Washington Post’s All-Metro Basketball Team, the first player ever to be named three times in the history of the award.  As a high school All-American basketball player, he received over 100 scholarship offers to colleges and universities.  
     In 1967, Allen became the first African-American basketball player at the University of Miami Florida and one of Miami’s all-time leaders in scoring and rebounding.
     Post-college, Allen played professionally in the American Basketball Association and then for a Belgian team in the European Professional League.
     Allen was inducted in the Atlantic Coast Conference Hall of Legends in 2010 and in 2011, received the highest honor that can be bestowed to a collegiate athlete, the Theodore Roosevelt Award from the National College Athletic Association, his name enshrined at the NCAA Hall of Champions in Indianapolis, Indiana.
     On May 10th, 2012, Will Allen became a published autobiographer of the book, THE GOOD FOOD REVOLUTION: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities.
     In the fall of 2012, Will Allen was the first ever inductee into the Richard Montgomery High School Hall of Fame. Richard Montgomery is Allen’s high school alma mater in Rockville, MD.  He lives with his wife in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

Matthew Benson

     Matthew Benson is an award-winning photographer, writer, and organic farmer whose engaging and informative presentations, workshops and book signings are extremely popular with the Garden Clubs of America, where he is on the National Speaker's Tour.
     Magazine clients include House & Garden, Traditional Home, Better Homes & Gardens, Conde Nast Traveler, Esquire, GQ, This Old House, The New York Times, Garden Design, Country Home, Country Living, Country Gardens, Saveur, Martha Stewart Everyday Food, Martha Stewart Everyday Baking.

     Book contributions include the Garden Primer, Garden Style, The Home Outside, Saveur Cooks Everyday Italian, The Garden Design Book of Gardens, Small Space Gardens, Rodale: Perennials, Roses, Annuals, Container Gardening, Manspace, In Season, Cook This Now, and A Good Appetite.

     He is a contributing editor and television spokesman for Rodale's Organic Gardening, and writes and photographs frequently on issues of small-scale farming, sustainability, organics and food justice.  He writes a popular blog at Organic, the Accidental Farmer. His latest book projects are Urban Farms, and The Photographic Garden: Mastering the Art of Digital Garden Photography, Four Season Farm Gardener's Cookbook by Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman, and Growing Beautiful Food based on the growing's on at his organic farm in the Hudson Valley.

     Raised and educated in Europe, with a Masters Degree from Columbia University, he is a trans-Atlantic sailor and certified alpine ski instructor. Architecture, design, and biodynamic organic farming are ongoing interests, as is the restoration of Stonegate Farm, the 1860s Carpenter Gothic farm he shares with his wife Heidi, and children Daisy Marlena and Miles.

Kerry Ann Mendez
     Kerry Ann Mendez is dedicated to teaching the art of low-maintenance perennial gardening and landscaping.  As a garden consultant, designer, writer and lecturer, she focuses on time-saving gardening techniques and workhorse plant material as well as organic practices.  She has been in numerous magazines including Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Garden Gate and Better Homes and Gardens' Garden Ideas & Outdoor Living.  Mendez was a featured guest on HGTV and hosted Capital News 9’s In the Garden television segment as well as info segments for Channel 13.  Mendez was awarded the 2014 Gold Medal from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, an honorary medal presented to outstanding horticulturalists, plant innovators, and those who have made significant contributions to the enjoyment and appreciation of plants and the environment. She is a garden columnist for 518 Life and Today’s Garden Center magazines and writes freelance pieces for regional and national magazines.  
     As a presenter for Horticulture magazine’s 2010 and 2011 webinar series, her webinars attracted thousands of gardeners from around the country.  Kerry works at Estabrook’s Nursery in Kennebunk, Maine.  She has the unique privilege of being a national spokesperson for Proven Winners and Espoma.  Kerry is a self-taught gardener with over 25 years of experience and a ‘passionate perennialist’ that enjoys mixing humor with practical information.  Kerry’s top-selling first book, The Ultimate Flower Gardener’s Top Ten Lists, was released in March 2010; followed by her second book, Top Ten Lists for Beautiful Shade Gardens in March 2011.  Kerry’s third book, The Right-Size Garden: Simplify Your Outdoor Space with Smart Design Solutions and Plant Choices, will be released in February 2015.  It provides time-tested answers for aging and time-pressed gardeners.  For more about Kerry and her business, Perennially Yours, visit

NOTE: MMGA will be at this event selling books.   This is a fund-raiser in support of MMGA.  Here are some of the great books we'll have on sale!

New Books, Bestsellers, Smart Gardening and Recent Program Presenters

The Gardener's A to Z Guide to Growing Organic Food - Tanya Denckla
Year Round Vegetable Gardner - Niki Jabbour (Dow Gardens Know & Grow 2015)
Teeming with Microbes - Jeff Lowenfels - Smart Gardening
Attracting Beneficial Insects - Jessica Walliser (historically a best seller for MMGA)
Attracting Native Pollinators - The Xerces Society
Bringing Nature Home - Douglas Tallamy - Smart Gardening



Bringing Nature Home – Douglas Tallamy  - Smart Gardening