Program Schedule

Meetings were typically held the first Monday of the month, currently at The Woodland at 60 Woodland Ave, Maplewood, NJ,  at 7:30 p.m. All meetings are free and open to the public.  Due to COVID and keeping our most vulnerable friends safe, we are also making our meetings available virtually.  There will be an announcement shortly before each meeting with virtual connection details.  

Sept. 12, 2022  (please note: this meeting is held on the second Monday of the month due to holidays)
Subject: Urban Agriculture as a Catalyst for Community Development
Speaker: Tobias Fox

Community based agriculture is the process of demonstrating the harmonious relationship between people, nature, and community.

Biographical information:

As Founder and Managing Director of the non-profit organization Newark Science and Sustainability, Inc. as well as Founder and Facilitator of the Newark Community Food System, Tobias Fox has demonstrated collaborative leadership on a grassroots level for ten years. Aside from being a writer and having a decade of independent publishing experience, he is a professional organizer, urban farmer, photographer, and coordinator of an annual Sustainable Living Empowerment Conference.  Tobias also conducts various community events, presentations, and workshops on sustainable living practices and assists numerous urban farmers and gardeners with the cultivation of their agricultural space. He has also assisted with the planting of nearly 100 trees in low-income communities with high environmental concerns.  In 2022, Tobias was the NJ League of Conservation Voters Changemaker Award Honoree.

October 3, 2022
Subject:  The Photo-Graphic Garden:  Mastering the Art of Digital Garden Photography

Speaker: Matthew Benson

Based on his best­selling book, The Photo­-Graphic Garden, Matthew Benson’s lecture is a comprehensive visual learning experience for the garden, landscape, and still­-life photographer. Geared toward all skill levels, with in-depth discussions and demonstrations on creative technique, technical literacy, and the fundamentals of light and design, The Photo-­Graphic Garden is designed to teach you how to create powerful, dynamic images in the garden, and is a primer on the latest digital image-making tools, from cameras to iPhones to post-production software and apps.

Biographical information:

Matthew Benson’s photography is in the permanent collection of the International Center of Photography, New York, as well as numerous private and gallery collections. His work has been awarded both DESI and Society of Publication Designers Awards and appears regularly in magazines, books, catalogs, and folios. He is on the National Speakers Tour for the Garden Club of America and lectures widely on Garden and Landscape Photography.

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.  His latest book projects are Urban Farms (Abrams, 2012), The Photo-Graphic Garden: Mastering the Art of Digital Garden Photography (Rodale, 2012), and the Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook by Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman (Workman, 2012).

November 7, 2022
Subject:  Beyond the Potted Palm: How Victorians Gave Us Houseplants

Speaker: Lesley Parness

The Victorian Era was also England’s Golden Age of Plant Exploration. It was a time when the public’s growing interest in natural history and their obsession with “collecting” came together around plants. The variety of houseplants available for purchase burgeoned during Queen Victoria’s reign.  Ever after, Brits and we Americans have been in love with them. Not only can houseplants complement and enhance any room’s decor, but NASA studies confirm their ability to remove indoor air pollution. Learn about many of the plants that populated Victorian parlors, how to care for them and simple ways to bring a Victorian touch to plantscaping your home.

Biographical information:

Garden historian and writer, Lesley Parness, has worked in public gardens in America and abroad for the past four decades. She is a popular speaker throughout the mid-Atlantic region, offering illustrated lectures and hands-on workshops to garden clubs, historic societies, Master Gardeners, public garden professionals, libraries, and institutions with rare book collections of horticultural merit.  Lesley is a former Board Member of the New Jersey State Commission on Environmental Education and is a founding member and past President of Garden State Gardens, a non-profit consortium of New Jersey’s public gardens.  She is a columnist for Gardener News Magazine, and featured writer in many print and online gardening publications.

December 5, 2022
Subject: Cut Flower Arranging 101
Speaker: Kori Gervasio

Kori Gervasio, founder of Colly Flowers will showcase different floral mechanics used to create cut flower arrangements in different styles and vessels. She will also focus on cut flower care and how to build a successful floral recipe. Lastly, she will discuss the impact of the local flower movement in NJ that has shifted the industry in the last 5 years. In the demonstration portion, Kori will create several floral arrangements while going over design principles and answering questions.

Biographical information:

On a mission to disrupt the typical flower shop model, Colly Flowers was founded in 2016 by Kori Gervasio in the dining room of The Artist Baker in Morristown, NJ. Colly Flowers settled into its new space, 143 Morris Street, in 2017 where they created a new, welcoming neighborhood flower shop. Filled to the brim with nostalgic botanical inspiration, the Morristown storefront houses a studio for floral services which include: everyday delivery, corporate events, public and private workshops, parties, showers, in-home floral decoration and weddings. Additionally, they carry an ever rotating collection of unique house plants, pots, dried flowers, botanical books and puzzles, gift boxes, greeting cards and so much more.

January 9, 2023 (note this is the 2nd Monday in January and is a Virtual Only Meeting)
Subject: The Magic of a Winter Garden

Speaker: Jana Milboker

The garden can be a magical place – even in winter! Stripped of summer foliage and flowers, the success of a winter garden lies in its structure, basic design and choice of plant material. This richly illustrated lecture provides inspiration and tips on designing your garden for winter interest, choosing the best trees, shrubs and perennials, and grouping them to create arresting vignettes.

Biographical information:

Jana Milbocker is the principal of Enchanted Gardens, a lecturer and author. She combines horticulture, design, and travel tips to educate, inspire and delight both new and seasoned gardeners. Jana loves to visit gardens and historic sites in the U.S. and abroad, and share her trips through her books, photos and blog. She published The Garden Tourist: 120 Destination Gardens and Nurseries in the Northeast in 2018, The Garden Tourist’s New England in 2020, and The Garden Tourist’s Florida in 2021. The 2-acre garden surrounding her Victorian home features more than 140 varieties of trees and shrubs, perennial gardens, peony and rose beds, water features and shady retreats.  Trained as a graphic designer, Jana brings years of critical design thinking, clarity and cohesiveness to her landscape solutions. Her professional experience includes twenty five years as an art director and designer.

February 6, 2023 (Virtual Meeting Only)
Subject: Garden Crafts and Projects

Speaker: C. L. Fornari

Let’s celebrate creativity in the garden! This virtual program will inspire you with indoor and outdoor projects that will get your creative juices flowing. See what you can create with objects you might already have in your garage or closets. Learn how to plant a large trough, tree stump, or other unusual containers. Find out how to make a wreath of hydrangea flowers. Discover fun plant supports and uses for older clay flower pots. Learn how to repair a favorite container that has broken. Ideas shown include indoor and outdoor projects.

Biographical information:

C.L. Fornari is the author of eight books, including Coffee for Roses and The Cocktail Hour Garden. She’s the host of GardenLine on WXTK, and co-host of the Plantrama podcast. She is a frequent speaker to groups nationwide, including green industry meetings, and has worked for a family-owned independent garden center for 25 years. C.L. grows vegetables, flowers, shrubs, trees and numerous other plants at Poison Ivy Acres on Cape Cod. Connect with her at

March 6, 2023
Subject: Adapting Small Farm Methods to a Backyard Garden

Speaker: Anthony Bracco

This lecture raises awareness as to where our food comes from — the difference between Factory Farm vs. Family Farm, Local Grown vs. Distant Grown, Organic vs. Conventional, and much more.  Along with sharing growing techniques, Tony will describe natural and sustainable methods you can use in your backyard garden.

Biographical information:

Anthony Bracco and his family live in Cedar Grove, NJ.  He has run a graphic design business for over 35 years.  Twelve years ago he and his wife bought a 25-acre farm in the “Black Dirt” region of Pine Island, NY. Anthony, who was an avid gardener most of his life, had intended to be a hobby farmer on just an acre growing his family the cleanest produce possible using Non-GMO seeds; hand cultivation of weeds; old fashioned farm equipment; picking only when ready; without chemicals, fertilizers, irrigation, pesticides, or herbicides; and allowing the beautiful Black Dirt soil to naturally regenerate each season. These simple, obvious, time-honored, sustainable farming techniques produced a shocking abundance of produce.  Immediately that first season, chefs began to take notice of the dramatic difference in taste.   And so, after just one season, Bracco Farms was born.

April 3, 2023
Subject: Mocktails:  The Art of Non-Alcoholic Mixology

Speaker: Vanessa Young

Flavorful and sophisticated non-alcoholic drinks are perfect for entertaining and everyday enjoyment. Learn about the art of making drinks, syrups, infusions, and edible garnishes. We will even explore how to use herbs and spices to approximate the flavors of popular cocktail spirits.

Biographical information:

Vanessa Young is a cooking instructor, writer, and educator known for her artful approach to food and wellness topics and her focus on seasonal meals.  With her artistic sensibility and kitchen wisdom, she helps home chefs become more versatile in their approach to food, reigniting their passion for cooking through private and community classes.  As the founder of Thirsty Radish (, she shares recipes and inspires a creative approach to life in and out of the kitchen.

May 1, 2023
Subject:  Secrets of the 86th Annual MGC Plant Sale

Speaker: MGC Plant Sale Committee Members

Get some behind-the-scenes glimpses of New Jersey’s “Big Momma of Plant Sales” and learn what makes the sale so popular and so much fun. We’ll also preview some of the many (many!) perennials, annuals, herbs and other special and unique plants that draw shoppers from all over the region and beyond.