2020 Garden Walk Speakers Wanted

Do you have a garden subject you love to share with others?  We invite you be an Educational Speaker at the 5th annual Cooper-Young Garden Walk, May 16-17, 2020, 9am-5pm. Showcase your topic to an eclectic audience of retirees, baby boomers, and young millennials  interested in all things gardening at our annual garden extravaganza. 

Chosen Garden Speakers earn:

  • speaker fee per 4 hour block
  • free publicity on our webpage for a year, social media mention, and mention in our garden walk brochure.
  • 1 complimentary ticket to the garden walk
  • opportunity to meet lots of new people and spread the joy of gardening.

Speaker Topics we are especially interested in:

  • sustainability, house plants, composting, flower arranging, organic gardening methods, growing mushrooms, beverages from the garden, attracting wildlife to the garden, climate change, 

Registration Deadline: March 1, 2019. Due to limited number of spaces, early registration advised.

All Garden Speakers will be stationed at “Secret Gardens” throughout the neighborhood. This puts you at our most visited gardens, provides shade, and makes it easy to park for set up and take down.

The Cooper-Young Garden Walk  celebrates gardeners, demonstrates sustainable garden practices, showcases beautiful, imaginative gardens, and inspires all our visitors to make their own outdoor spaces beautiful.    

You have two options to apply:  

You will receive an email confirmation of acceptance.  Thank you.


2019 Garden Walk Speakers

Mike Larrivee photo

SATURDAY, May 18, 9 – 1 PM, 1846 Nelson, (Mike Larrivee’s secret garden)

Mike Larrivee, “Composting: How and Why”.

BIO: Licensed Professional Geologist working in petroleum remediation as an environmental consultant. He received a master of science from the University of Memphis Earth Science department, and is a William J Fulbright scholar. He was the director of the Giant Hogweed Project in Eastern Europe, an initiative focused on training citizen scientists how to identify and catalogue invasive species in order to develop control and eradication strategies. He is a technical adviser to the Memphis Tree Board, and the Cooper-Young Livability Committee. He is the co-founder and executive Director of The Compost Fairy, a non-profit soil building initiative aimed at diverting valuable organic materials from the landfill, returning them to the community as a powerful topsoil amendment, and creating long term jobs in the sustainability sector. He is also proud to be an operational lead and urban ecologist for the South Memphis Trees project, which is in the first stages of planting four-million trees on vacant and fallow lands inside Memphis. He is a native plant evangelist, and mad about all things green and good.

Jennifer Marshall- Memmphis TilthSATURDAY, May 18, 9 – 1 pm , 1031 Philadelphia, (Sharron/Rex Johnson’s secret garden)

Jennifer Marshall + Kelvin Neely, Memphis Tilth

Food System Work in Memphis” :Memphis Tilth envisions a community with full access to affordable, fresh, locally and sustainably grown food.

BIO/Jennifer: Jennifer was introduced to gardening at home as a child and those skills manifested themselves in the cultivation of her own home garden with her husband. Living in a food desert inspired collaborative work with her neighbors in Orange Mound to purchase and farm a vacant lot, which developed into a small-scale farm and farmer’s market for the neighborhood. As the Community Garden Organizer with Memphis Tilth, Jennifer is a member of the garden team and assists with garden planning and management, teaches the garden Elective for Advance Memphis Students, assists with farmers market operations and coordination, and continues multi-site community garden maintenance.

KelvinNeely-MemphisTilthBIO/Kelvin: Kelvin is a native Memphian, with deep ties to our region’s food culture. Kelvin’s grandfather established Memphis’ famed Interstate Barbecue in 1979, where he began working at a young age to learn the family business. Although now a practicing vegetarian, Kelvin owes his love of food and his earliest business lessons to working alongside his family. Kelvin earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Memphis, studying Finance and Organizational Leadership. Along with Kelvin’s passion for business, he has a strong desire to create food systems change for our city, and for our region. In his words, “My goal is to one day see the ever-present problem of food access greatly diminished. I have a desire to be an intricate part of an improved community and city, that as a whole, has made me become such a proud ambassador of Memphis.”

New Way Aquaponics logoSATURDAY, May 18, 1 – 5 PM—-1031 Philadelphia, (Sharron Johnson’s secret garden)

Daryl Levin, New Way Aquaponic Farms, “What is Aquaponics and can I do it?” 

Daryl will also focus on the advantages and disadvantages of aquaponic gardening compared to soil farming.  

BIO: After a successful career in Corporate America in financial, marketing, sales, plant management and general management roles, I became interested in solutions to food insecurities in urban areas. I began with soil farming, but quickly moved to aquaponics – when I understood that one can grow vegetables and protein year round without the need of fertile land. I began New Way Aquaponic farms in 2017 by refurbishing a commercial building and transforming it into a teaching, learning, and production farm – where kids and adults can apply STEM topics to the science of growing aquaponically. Today we teach middle and high schoolers during the day and adults in the evenings in growing organic vegetables and fish with minimal outside (chemical) inputs.

Donna Manley picSATURDAY, May 18, 1 – 5 pm, 2193 Elzey, (Jim Wilson’s Secret Garden)

Donna Manley, “Growing Gourmet Mushrooms at Home”

Interested in growing mushrooms at home? I’ll be bringing notes and samples about how we inoculate logs, how we pasteurize straw, some mushroom books to flip through, and other materials we have gathered in our first 6 months of this adventure. 

Bio: Last summer, I saw a 2-minute video about growing mushrooms in a newsletter. One web page led to another, and I found a class taught by that very teacher only 3 hours drive away. I took the 2-day class in October and loved it. Since then, my mushroom partner and I have inoculated logs with 5 species of mushroom and grown 2 types of mushrooms indoors on pasteurized straw. We are preparing a wood chip bed for some mushroom species that like to grow in that environment. We are definitely beginners, excited about sharing what we have learned so far. This stuff is so cool!


Carson Ellis photoSUNDAY, May 19, 9 – 1 PM, 1854 Felix, (Marie Dennan’s secret garden)

Carson Ellis, Memphis Botanic Gardens, “Foraging: The Joy of Nature Snacking”

From sidewalk cracks to forest, the Memphis area offers a bounty of forage to explore! Join avid nature snacker Carson Ellis to discuss some of her favorite wild treats. You’ll learn where to find them, how to confidently identify them, and a couple recipes to try at home.

BIO: Carson Ellis was born in Asheville, North Carolina, studied Environmental Science at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, and moved to Memphis in 2015 to begin working as a horticulturist at the Memphis Botanic Garden. She works with a variety of plants, but specializes in managing the Garden’s native plant collections, wildlife habitats, conservation projects, and sustainable agriculture projects. She lives in Midtown with her cat Clementine, several fish and snails, and is the likely source of that scary noise you heard in the woods.

Karen HessSUNDAY, MAY 19, 1 PM – 5PM, 1854 FELIX (Marie Dennan’s secret garden)

KAREN HESS, BIG GREEN, “Pests of Memphis”

We are told at every garden talk that there are some serious bugs in Memphis. From aphids and beetles to caterpillars and wasps, we have them all. But how do you actually distinguish between the good and bad visitors in your garden? When is it worth it to take drastic measures, and when is it best to let nature run its course? Learn more about the pests of Memphis and how to best care for both your ornamental and edible plants this summer.

BIO: Karen Beach graduated from Rhodes College with a degree in Environmental Science in 2015. After graduating, she taught middle school science at a Montessori school in Knoxville and also managed its student farm and chicken coop. She now works for Big Green in Memphis as a Garden Educator. When she’s not working with teachers and students to manage their school gardens, Karen attends garden lectures around town, sings in a choir, studies herbalism, and spends time with her husband and hound dog.

Renee + Adam QueenSUNDAY May 19, 1 – 5 pm, 2196 Nelson, (Nancy Beard’s secret garden)

Adam and Renee Queen, Rolling Along Farms

Growing Micro-greens and Organic Production Methods.” See a demonstration on how to grow and harvest micro-greens at home. We will go over what types of soil to use and what it means to grow the micro-greens organically.We will also have demonstration trays so that the patrons will be able to see the final product.

BIO:  Adam and Renée, of Rolling Along Farms, relocated (back) to Memphis from Adam’s family farm in Lauderdale County to pursue their shared love of Certified Naturally Grown farming with as little footprint as possible. After moving their farm in February, they are getting the farm back up and rolling in Orange Mound. They’ve gone so far as to get rid of both their front and backyards in pursuit of #foodnotlawns and given a portion of the inside of their house to the farm, growing Certified Naturally Grown micro-greens in a soil-based system. Their three dogs Sage, Gypsy, and Jethro help keep the pests out of the yards and the micro-greens safe inside. Their farm name, Rolling Along Farms, is more than just their identity, it’s their lifestyle.

SAT/SUN, MAY 18 -19, 9AM – 5 PM, 899 Blythe, (Kim Halyak’s secret garden)

Karen Pennington, distributor of Tower Garden through Juice Plus+.

“Growing food/plants in a vertical Tower Garden”. Wish you could grow healthy fruits, herbs, and vegetables without a lot of work?  Here’s your chance to see a vertical, aeroponic, soil-less Tower Garden and find out how easy it is to grow in a limited space.

Bio:  Karen Pennington is a freelance interior designer and the distributor of Tower Garden, through Juice Plus+. She a native Memphis who is interested in whole food nutrition. kip.jp@yahoo.com

John Jennings photoSUNDAY, May 19, 1 -5 pm.  805 S. Cox, (Katie McHaney’s Secret Garden)

John Jennings, Manager of Horticulture at Palladio Garden

“Fabulous Container Arrangements”.  What are the best sun or shade plants for container gardening?  Watch as John Jennings shows you how to create stylish planters with a few great looking plants. Attend and get a discount coupon you can use at Palladio Garden, using the same plants John did.

Bio:  John Jennings is an ISA Certified Arborist, an experienced horticulturist, and the manager of Horticulture at Palladio Garden. He also writes a garden variety column for Memphis Magazine and a garden blog.  He loves being a father to Henry and writing fiction on the side.