Community Agriculture Conference

Sunday, February 25 | Noon – 5:30 PM
St. Louis University High School
4970 Oakland Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110

Formerly known as the St. Louis Community Garden Summit, the Community Agriculture Conference is an annual Gateway Greening event that brings in over 200 people each year. This event provides the opportunity to hear from national experts on community gardening, horticulture, and community development. Attendees participate in networking with other gardeners and people working in sustainable practices across the region. 

Keynote Speaker: Rob Reiman


Information about the 2018 event will be posted soon, but in the meantime, please explore last year’s speakers and topics to learn what this event has to offer: 


Afternoon Breakout #1 Speakers & Topics

When registering, participants are asked to choose from one of the following Afternoon Breakout #1 Sessions:


Permaculture in Urban Environments

Presented by Matt Lebon, Farm Manager at the EarthDance Organic Farm School 

In this class Matt will show how permaculture design can help you create a perennial abundance right here in the city. Learn about innovative design techniques that not only look great but will literally have food falling from the sky.

As Farm Manager at the EarthDance Organic Farm School Matt oversees both the farm’s production and education. Over his 4 year tenure at EarthDance Matt has helped bring permaculture to EarthDance through water management design, perennial tree systems, and low-till vegetable farming. He has also transformed his 5,200 square foot yard from grass to abundance by installing a rain garden and planting an urban food forest. 

Pollinators in the City

Presented by Damon Hall, Assistant Professor at the Center for Sustainability at Saint Louis University & Gerardo R. Camilo, Ph.D. with the Department of Biology, Saint Louis University.

This featured project couples social science field research, citizen engagement, and urban ecology long-term field sampling of wild bees to examine relationships between pollinator health and urban land-use decision making in St. Louis and other cities. Findings from this project will inform the development (and communication of) insect pollinator health policies and provide an empirical approach for evaluating habitat conservation programs.

Damon Hall’s research examines the interactions between social and ecological systems where science, policy, and culture meet. Hall’s research is audience-focused, addressing questions of how to make “useable knowledge” for sustainable transitions. His research is transdisciplinary in that it engages stakeholders, managers, and scientists to design transformational solutions that make sense to how people -whose behavior is the target of policy- commonly experience their world. 

Gerardo Camilo’s research focuses on understanding the role that space has on ecological processes and structures. Most of his work centers around populations and communities of bee pollinators in urban environments. Over half of all the human population already live in cities, and it is expected that by 2050 two out of every three people will live in a city. Understanding how ecosystem services, like the pollination of crops, is affected by the urban environment is of crucial importance. Cities are complex structures comprised of industrial, residential, and green spaces of different sizes across a network of roads, sewers, power lines, etc. Furthermore, differences in social, economic and cultural status also affects how people use and alter ecosystem processes in citifies. Our work has shown that bees in St. Louis City are responding to many of these parameters. 

Community Gardens: Crossroad of Cultural Diversity in New York City 

Presented by Magali Regis, New York City Community Garden Coalition

New York City is home to over 600 community gardens. Most have appeared within the last 30 years and contributed to a green space renaissance.  These communal spaces, run entirely by small groups of neighbors – volunteers who have transformed these once neglected empty lots into lush gardens and urban farms, are catalysts for urban renewal and neighborhood revitalization. These gardens are at the crossroads of social, economic, cultural and environmental assertion. Come hear how we are creating a green revolution in a city that is more typically known to be a concrete jungle.

Magali Regis is an architect practicing in New York City, with a focus on sustainable design, historic preservation and adaptive reuse. She is also a community gardener and garden activist, working for the past 20 years to preserve New York’s communal public spaces from looming development. Magali also serves on the board of the New York City Community Garden Coalition, an advocacy group representing over 600 NYC community gardens and 20,000 gardeners and is a member of LUNGS (Loisaida United Neighborhood Gardens), a coalition of community gardens in NYC’s Lower East Side working to create a Community Garden District. She has been featured on the BBC news, conducted workshops at the American Community Gardening Association’s conferences, participated in an international forum on Parks in Moscow, and conducted workshops in New York City’s GreenThumb Gardeners conferences.

Youth Transforming the Land: Dig It & the St. Louis Youth Conservation Corps

Presented by Carolyn Cosgrove Payne, Teen Programs Coordinator for Gateway Greening

Gateway Greening launched Dig It STL, our teen employment program, in early 2015. 2 years later, 35 teens have come through the program, and momentum is building in the St. Louis region to engage more young people in the transformative work of sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation. In this workshop, Carolyn hopes to tell the story of her experiences and share the philosophies and strategies developed to carry out this work.

Carolyn has been working with young people on farms since 2010. She believes farming is an accessible framework for starting conversations about hunger, racism, and environmental & economic justice, allowing us to step outside the virtual world and into the tangible world, where we can practice how to care for other living things. For Carolyn, farming answers a necessary and fundamental question about how we can work together to create a more equitable community.

SLUH Sustainability Tour (up to 20 participants max)

Presented by Bill Anderson, SLUH Science Teacher

Tour SLUH’s composting and recycling efforts in the student cafeteria, solar panels, aquaponics tank, green roof and school/community garden.

Bill Anderson has taught chemistry and environmental science at SLUH for 33 years. He has strong interests in gardening, aquaponics and sustainability.

Afternoon Breakout #2 Speakers & Topics

When registering, participants are asked to choose from one of the following Afternoon Breakout #2 Sessions:


Branching Out (Growing Unusual Foods)

Presented by Dean Gunderson, Garden Program Manager at Gateway Greening

Do you feel like you end up just growing the same few crops every year?  People have consumed over 7,000 different plants around the world; you don’t have to feel like there’s nothing else to grow.  Come learn about some of the less-common crops that you can grow in your own garden!

Dean Gunderson is the Garden Program Manager at Gateway Greening and is interested in the way people interact with plants.  He studied agricultural and food geography in school and loves studying how cultures, people, and plants all shape each other.  Before working at Gateway Greening he spent time studying local Native American subsistence strategies at Cahokia Mounds.  Much of his free time is now spent experimenting at his parents’ farm with weird plants, building low-tech tools, and researching more weird plants to experiment with.  He also loves to learn about how different people grow and use plants in different ways, so if you have an odd food crop that you grow, or have a unique way of growing a crop let him know!

Kids in the Garden

Presented by Nina Warren, Saint Louis Public School Kindergarten Teacher

Children are born scientists and they are motivated to learn the tools – reading, writing, math, and more – to help them discover more about their world. The school garden offers a wealth of opportunities to engage children in hands on science exploration and get them to buy into the school day.

Nina Warren grew up in st St. Louis Public school system, where she participated in science fairs every year from 1st grade to being a senior in high school. She also participated in Math fairs all four years she attended high school.  Nina graduated from  Roosevelt High School and Attended Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville IL. where she received a Bachelor’s  pf Science Degree in Business Administration and minored in Sociology. Nina then went to University of Phoenix and received a MBA and a Master’s In Adult Education before further earning her Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential. 

After having  four daughters and doing much volunteering as a parent Nina found that she loved to teach and help children. As a result, Nina went back to school to further my education and pursued a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from University of Missouri St. Louis.  Science is what kept her involved in schools and as an educator who has being teaching in early childhood for almost a decade she has found that children love science and science buys them in to learning. Nina introduces to you the SCIENCE BUY-IN!

St. Louis Science Center GROW Exhibit Tour: Explore the Journey of Food from Farm to Fork

Presented by Hannah Reinhart, SLSC GROW Exhibit Plant and Animal Manager

The GROW exhibit digs deeper to explore the science behind the most important element of our daily lives: Food. Where does it come from? How does it grow? How far does it travel? And how can each of us make a difference so we can all eat? You’ll find answers to these questions and more at this one-of-a-kind exhibit focusing on the journey of food.

The GROW tour will cover the entire grounds of the 1-acre exhibit and give particular attention to some of its most popular features, including the “UFO” chicken coop and flock, the HomeGROWn section demonstrating DIY gardening techniques and best practices, the “Farm Tech Field” combine, and the aquaponics greenhouse showcasing how to farm indoors using fish for fertilizer.

As the GROW Plant and Animal Manager, Hannah’s main responsibility is to keep things alive and flourishing. In addition to planning and leading seasonal plantings, she works as the exhibit’s chief chicken keeper, worm wrangler and bumble bee caretaker. Prior to joining SLSC in spring 2016, Hannah worked for Gateway Greening for nine years where her responsibilities included running the annual Community Garden Summit, and she is looking forward to the stress-free experience of attending the summit as a guest! Hannah is also a backyard chicken keeper, beekeeper, and garden leader for her community garden in the Tower Grove South neighborhood.

The Science & Art of Fermentation

Brigitte Zettle of Crown Valley Organics

Over the millennia the human digestive system has evolved a symbiotic relationship with beneficial bacteria.  These organisms play an important role in breaking down the foods we eat.  With the advent of refrigeration, North Americans changed our eating habits to include far less fermented foods.  Until very recently these traditional foods made up 30% of our diet!  Without them we are unable to replenish our natural balance of pro-biotic flora.  Because of the many health issues plaguing modern society, there has been a reemergence of popularity in fermented foods.  Gardeners can benefit from revisiting this ancestral tradition because it provides an easy and delicious way to extend the harvest through winter.  Learn more about the science of fermentation, and attain the skills you need to prepare these heirloom foods in your own home!

Brigitte Zettle is the founder and supervisor of Crown Valley Organics, and an adjunct faculty member of the Meramec Community College Horticulture Program.  She endeavors to empower individuals with the tools they need on their path to a healthier life, and more sustainable relationship with the planet.

Explore Scholarship Opportunities at the Summit

Ticket Prices include Lunch and Snacks:

Gateway Greening In-Network Gardener: $15.00

Non-Network Gardener & General Public: $25.00

Thank you to our 8th Annual Summit Sponsors!


Gateway Greening’s 8th annual St. Louis Community Garden Summit was financed in part through an allocation of Community Development Block Grant funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the City of St. Louis’ Community Development Administration.