To me one of the best parts of these conferences is connecting with old friends and gardeners from Coconino, Yavapai, Gila, and Navajo counties.
The keynotes were especially good this year. David Salman, the owner of High Country Gardens/Santa Fe Nursery opened the show with a talk on attracting bees to your garden. It was interesting, as usuual useful, and packed with lots of information on bees and what to grow to attract them. If you are interested in a list of bee attracting plants and what vegetables/fruit trees need pollinators check out this web site highcountrygardens.com/AHGC. My choice for the breakout session following was Frank Branham our local chef and owner of the Cottage Place. He did a great job connecting gardening to cooking. Because of costs at the Community Market he has begun growing some of his own food at home (tomatoes, squash, etc.). He also made a delicious Squash Soup for tasting, shared other tips/recipes, and sold his 1st book. If you are interested in cooking classes or his book contact the cottageplace.com. After lunch there was another keynote by noted author and radio personality, Charlie Nardozzi, on growing food among your other plants. He reviewed a long list of edible shrubs/trees/vines/and plants, while entertaining all who came. He also did a breakout session on growing/cooking an Italian garden. For more info about him check out his web site CharlieNardozzi.com. The afternoon also brought 2 choices for breakout sessions. My choices were Patty West from NAU, on foraging (gathering and preparing native plants). She often does foraging walks in Coconino and Yavapai counties. She talked about precautions, let us sample a few, and covered how to prepare some foods such as Prickly Pear buds. For more info on foraging you can contact Patty West at Patty.West@nau.edu. The second session I attended was Todd Cislo on Extreme Gardening. He gardens in the Banana Belt of Flagstaff, but had many tips that will work even in Baderville. It was a great session on winter vegetable gardening. He talked about how to build a simple row cover and gave us a list of vegetables recommended locally. There were many other sessions available that I missed (3 for each breakout), so I will have to share notes with other gardeners.
Overall for the price ($75) it was a steal. Watch the fall gardening calendars in 2013 for the next conference which will be in Gila County.