6th Annual Grow Gardens Conference

Where We Are Growing! Growing Healthy People; Growing Strong Communities

Are you a garden lover, sustainability advocate, food equity supporter, urban agriculturalist or just “garden-curious” and want to see what it’s all about? Then this is the place for you to be on April 6th! 

April 6th 10am – 4pm
Tampa Heights Junior Civi Association

2005 N Lamar Ave, Tampa, FL 33602

April 6th, 10am - 4pm

Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association Community Center 

2005 N Lamar Ave, Tampa, FL 33602

What To Expect

Whether you're brand new or been in the dirt for years, we have a little bit of everything!

Hear Success Stories

Community gardens offer physical and mental health benefits. They are collaborative projects on shared open spaces where participants share in the maintenance and products of the garden, including healthful and affordable fresh fruits and vegetables.

Resources to Grow Better

Share and hear about ground level experiences in growing a successful community garden. Resources covered are how to start one, using the agricultural extension services, mentorship from the coalition, and of course, connecting with garden members.

Local Policy Implications

Gardens generate economic benefits include creating and sustaining living-wage jobs through food production, processing, and sales; improving the economic viability of local agriculture; and more efficiently using vacant or underutilized parcels through urban agriculture. Communities can also foster environmental benefits through decreasing food waste and reducing the miles food travels to store shelves.

New Initiatives via the USDA Grant

Have you heard that COCG is undertaking big initiatives? This includes the creation of urban farming-friendly policies with the city of Tampa via land use agreements and ordinances. Other aspects of the grant include urban agriculturist training, certification courses for community residents, and organizing garden markets with connections to SNAP/EBT apps. These markets will sell produce from community gardens and local growers to support sustainability.

And perhaps most importantly...

Build and Foster Lasting Connections

Join us in cultivating connections and flourishing friendships at our garden lovers' conference. Let's grow together, nurturing both plants and community!

Event Schedule

Come early to mingle, enjoy coffee, tea, and garden fresh muffins, and get your seats! Please arrive no later than 9:55 am if you are attending the morning session.

Coalition of Community Gardens: Past, Present, & Future

Speaker: Coalition of Community Gardens Board – Kitty Wallace, Michele Ogilvie, & Lena Young Green

Gardening within Tampa’s Sustainability and Resilience Roadmap

The Importance of Nurturing Community Gardens that Grow and Distribute Healthy food to strengthen the community and city and how it connects to the Resilient Tampa Roadmap.
 Speaker: Tampa Mayor Jane Castro

Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders in Urban Agriculture

The Essential Role that USF Patel College of Global Sustainability plays in developing tomorrow’s leaders in urban agriculture.
Speaker: Dr. Dorsey, Associate Dean For Academic Affairs & Director of Food Sustainability and Security

Break + Passport Activity

Celebrating our Community Garden Sponsors!

Speaker: Meryl Stout, Urban Agriculture Coordinator & Executive Director of COCG

Healthy 22nd St Garden

Healthy 22nd Street following the Garden Steps Model in year 3.

Speaker: Regina Polite, President of Healthy 22nd St

Innovative Food Ambassador Program from WellFed

Innovative Food Ambassador Program that WellFed has developed initially in the University Area and is now implementing in two zip codes in North Tampa along with the Coalition; integrating the Garden Steps model.
Speaker: Dhalia Bumbacca, Co-Founder of WellFed Community

We are SO excited to partner with Green Market Cafe in Wesley Chapel this year! Green Market Cafe buys it’s produce directly from the source – our local farmers! They strive for balanced nutrition by serving food that is filled with fresh veggies and fruits and wholesome ingredients free of hormones and preservatives.  

Lunch features the following choices, and includes a side salad, kettle chips, and a freshly baked cookie:

  • Vegetarian or Vegan Hummus Wrap
  • Honey Chicken Sandwich on a Pretzel Bun
  • Cuban on a Pretzel Bun
  • Turkey Brie on a Pretzel Bun
Gluten free wrap options are also available. Lunch orders will be submitted via email prior to the conference. 

Community Garden at the Tampa Family Health Center

Community Garden at the Tampa Family Health Center which was developed to find compassionate, innovative solutions to our community’s toughest health challenges.
Speaker: Nicole Pinson, Garden Manager, Tampa Family Health Centers

Recently Established Gardens: Garden Panel

A panel of gardeners from different locations and different garden organizations/goals followed by a Q&A session! Dee Morales will be the moderator.
  • Dee Morales: Highland Pines and 813 Hood Garden Space
  • Jenise Carr: TampaWell Community Garden and Food Pharmacy Manager
  • Scott Gunsaullus: Town ‘n Country Community Garden
  • Charlotte Hillman: Community SOGarden
  • Mary Bruce: Jackson Heights – Bethesda Community Garden

Break + Passport Activity

Seed Folks: Youth Engagement

Youth engagement and value added economic benefit: SeedFolks gardeners will present their school gardens and the children’s value added products. They will showcase experiences for elementary students in growing food, eating it, and cooking it as well as creating value added products.
Speaker: Diana Kyle, Program Director at What We Could Be

Passport Prizes, Thank You’s, & Veggie Giveaways

4 - 6 PM

Happy Hour Garden Party

Join us immediately following the conference for a family friendly Happy Hour Garden Party in the award-winning Tampa Heights community garden! Mingle with all your new friends and enjoy live music, beer and wine, games, appetizers…and of course, vegetables! The garden is within walking distance from the event venue.

Meet the Speakers

Our diverse group of speakers are leaders within our community. Join us to get closer to the experts who are working to advance urban agriculture!

Kitty Wallace

Kitty Wallace

Co-founder of the Coalition of Community Gardens
Michele Ogilvie

Michele Ogilvie

Director of the Coalition of Community Gardens

Lena Young Green

Co-founder of the Coalition of Community Gardens

Mayor Jane Castor

Mayor of Tampa

Dr. Joseph Dorsey

Associate Dean For Academic Affairs & Director of Food Sustainability and Security

Meryl Stout

Urban Agriculture Coordinator & Executive Director of the Coalition
Regina Polite

Regina Polite

President of Healthy 22nd Street

Dhalia Bumbacca, MBA

Co-Founder of WellFed Community

Nicole Pinson

Garden Manager, Tampa Family Health Centers
Dee Morales

Dee Morales

Founder of 813 Hood Garden

Jenise Carr

TampaWell Community Garden and Food Pharmacy Manager
Charlotte Hillman

Charlotte Hillman

Founder and President of Community SOGarden
Scott Gunsaullus

Scott Gunsaullus

Founding stakeholder of the Town N Country Community Garden
Jeanette Bradley

Jeannette Bradley

Co-founder of Jackson Heights – Bethesda Community Garden 
Mary Bruce

Mary Bruce

Co-founder of Jackson Heights – Bethesda Community Garden
Diana Kyle

Diana Kyle

Program Director at What We Could Be

A chance to connect with like-minded garden lovers

Connecting with like-minded garden lovers offers a unique opportunity to share experiences, exchange ideas, and learn new techniques to make your garden more vibrant. Come out and swap tips, discover new plants and the shared passion amongst this green-fingered community that creates lasting bonds.

Our Great Sponsors

Heartfelt thanks to our generous sponsors for nurturing our community gardens conference. Their support helps cultivate healthier communities for a brighter, greener future.

The Coalition of Community Gardens

Empowering Tampa Bay garden groups since 2015

The Coalition of Community Gardens is a network of gardens and partners who support and share knowledge and resources; build infrastructure to grow gardens; and advocate for public policies to improve health through community gardening in Florida.

There are over 60 Community Gardens all over the West Central Florida area.

Gardening has a positive impact on your well-being and our community

The benefits of gardening

Live healthy

Get exercise and access to fresh, organically grown veggies

Build community and our social fabric

Get to know your neighbors and build bridges across cultures and different age groups

Youth engagement

Children learn where there food comes from and develop important skills

Beautifies the neighborhood

Beyond simply the pretty aspect of gardens, the positive and lasting effects of gardening are a reduction in crime and improving property values

Benefits the environment

Eating locally grown food reduces our carbon footprint and improves the viability of the soil

Reduces inequality and food insecurity

Community gardens are often placed in "food deserts" and allow under-served populations to get access to quality food

Join the 6th Annual Grow Gardens Conference

Come for all day or a morning or afternoon session. Proceeds cover the cost of the event plus you help support the next generation of gardeners and new initiatives throughout Tampa Bay!

Buy a ticket in advance and save $5 for half day and $10 for full day access! If you are ordering lunch and would like to select your choice of sandwich or wrap, tickets must be purchased by 4/1/24. Lunch will not be available day of.

Full Day + Lunch

10:00am - 4:00pm

Full Day without Lunch

10:00am - 4:00pm

AM Session without Lunch

10:00am - 12:30pm

AM Session + Lunch

10am - 12:30pm

PM Session without Lunch

1:30pm - 4:00pm

PM Session + Lunch

1:30pm - 4:00pm