Published on 08/28/18

Sustainable gardening symposium set for September at Monastery of the Holy Spirit

By Sharon Dowdy

“Sustainable Gardening for the Southeast,” a workshop designed for gardeners who want to learn more about creating environmentally friendly gardens, is set for Sept. 8 at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia.

The full-day workshop will begin Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. and conclude by 3:30 p.m. The event is open to gardeners of all skill levels and includes presentations by Georgia experts.

The Rev. Francis Michael, the monastery’s land manager and former abbot, will share information about the sustainable initiatives in place at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit.

University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agent Ted Wynne will teach participants how to produce homegrown vegetables using sustainable practices. Wynne, the Agricultural and Natural Resources agent in Newton County, will cover a wide array of topics including site selection, soil conditioning, selecting vegetables for your region, transplanting, cultivation, fertilization and harvesting.

Susan Varlamoff, retired director of environmental sciences in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, will discuss the best gardening practices to restore and enhance local ecosystems while creating beautiful landscapes. Varlamoff is the author of “Sustainable Gardening for the Southeast” and co-author of the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s “Laudato Si’ Action Plan,” which was based on the environmental encyclical released by Pope Francis.

Ellen Honeycutt, an active member of the Georgia Native Plant Society and the Georgia Botanical Society, will present information on gardening for birds. She will explain how to use native plants to attract and support native birds. Honeycutt has been gardening with native plants for 18 years in north metro Atlanta.

Mario Cambardella, the city of Atlanta’s first urban agriculture director, will talk about planning urban and community gardens. He will also discuss city-sponsored policies, projects, and programs like the Resilient Atlanta strategy. A licensed landscape architect and planner, Cambardella holds master’s degrees in landscape architecture and environmental planning from UGA. 

In addition to the educational sessions, participants will enjoy a lunch of locally grown produce and organically sourced meat. Biscotti and fruit cake and fudges made at the monastery will also be available.

The registration fee for the workshop is $60 and $50 for UGA Master Gardener Extension Volunteers. To register, visit For more information, email or call 678-964-2237.

Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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