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2023 Conference: Regenerative Solutions for Resilient Landscapes – Longwood Gardens, PA

Thu, November 9, 2023 @ 8:30 am EST - 4:30 pm EST

Regenerative Solutions for Resilient Landscapes 2023

Join the ELA for the 2023 R & R Conference, in person at Longwood Gardens

Thursday, November 9 @ 8:30 EDT-4:30 EDT

ELA will also offer an online opportunity to participate!


Please scroll down to register

Culture is an aspect of our daily lives that is often taken for granted, but which permeates almost everything we do. Families, workplaces, virtual and lived-in communities all have distinct cultures which come to bear on the beliefs, language use, choices, and behaviors of individuals and groups.

This year, the theme for ELA’s Regenerative Solutions for Resilient Landscapes (R&R) Conference will be Changing Culture. With this theme, speakers and attendees will explore what it means to live and work within the dynamic culture of the ecological landscape profession.

How do the conversations we have reflect our shared values, challenge or uphold long held beliefs, and offer new ideas?

How might we more effectively communicate with municipalities, HOAs, stakeholders, and our customers the importance of incorporating native species and ecologically functional landscapes?

Could our design choices and management behaviors be better aligned with ecological practices in our profession? 

How have the materials and practices commonly used in the landscape changed over the past several years, and what does this mean for the future of our work?

These questions and more will provide the backdrop for our conversations this November 9, 2023. We hope you’ll join us as we lay the groundwork for a profession as resilient as the landscapes we steward.


8:00-8:45 Welcome & Introduction to Longwood Gardens – Dr. Lea Johnson (Associate Director, Land Stewardship and Ecology)

This introduction to Longwood will be followed by a brief period for conference attendees to explore the space before settling in for the first presentation. 

8:45-9:00 Welcome & intro first speaker (ELA rep)

9:00-10:00 Hort2Culture: Connecting Plants with People – Jared Barnes, Phd

With all the challenges we face on Planet Earth, plants are poised to change the 21st century. In this enthusiastic keynote, Dr. Jared Barnes will share how we can sow passion, help gardeners take root, graft interests together, and much more to help the horticulture industry blossom.

10:00-10:15 Break

10:15-11:15 Building Relationships with Land and Water: Indigenous Lessons from TEK – Brook Thompson

Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is not a stagnant form of data to be consumed, but an ever-evolving way of living. The Yurok Tribe has recognized the Klamath River as
having personhood, and therefore is able to protect it legally when facing harm. Yet, this belief is based in a understanding of the natural world not as life-less beings that are
there for human consumption and economic gain, but a part of the community of one’s life.

Learn how Indigenous values around TEK can be applied to your own gardens and lives as Brook Thompson, a Yurok Tribal member talks about her own lived experiences growing up on the Yurok reservation and how she has seen the largest salmon kill in west coast history to the removal of several dams on the Klamath River. If you are interested in how to reframe your understanding of the natural world in ways that may be mutually beneficial to you and your surrounding ecosystem, then this session is for you. This session will cover the basics of TEK, how TEK differs from local knowledge, how to support local tribes with gardens, and in what ways can anecdotal teachings of Brook’s life growing up on the Yurok reservation be applied to everyday understandings of gardening and even life.

11:15-12:45 Lunch is on your own.
There is a beautiful spot in the gardens — the Garden Cafe — available for attendees to enjoy!

1:00-2:00 Ecology in Motion: Interpreting Change in a New Public Garden – Samantha Nestory

Stoneleigh: a natural garden has been interpreting its transition from private estate to ecologically focused public garden, which has presented challenges and opportunities for engaging and educating the community.

2:00-3:00 The Real Conversations Needed Between Buyers and Suppliers – Wendy Brister

Whether you realize it or not, our industry has changed. Supply chain shortages, labor shortages, and inflation have played major roles in this. We will look at the challenges facing perennial growers, steps we have taken to improve the situation, and tips for designers/buyers to become more educated purchasers. It is time to open the lines of communication!

3:00-3:15 Break

3:15-4:15 Buildings as Habitat: Biodiversity Interventions as Resilient Infrastructure Investments in Public Health – Helena van Vliet

Buildings kill an estimated 1 billion songbirds each year in the United States alone. This catastrophic loss of biodiversity represents a public health emergency that tragically illuminates an all too literal clash between nature and culture. If evolution is any guide, culture must urgently realign with nature, informing an evidence-based path from opportunity to obligation: all building projects must realign with local ecology and become restorative, nature-positive infrastructure investments in support of public health.

4:15-4:30 Closing Remarks

Are you interested in sponsoring?  For more information CLICK HERE

About the Venue

Longwood Gardens is a botanical garden that consists of over 1,077 acres of gardens, woodlands, and meadows in Kennett Square, PA. Lunch will be available for purchase from Longwood’s on-site restaurant. Attendees are encouraged to enjoy the facilities during lunch.


About our Speakers

Jared Barnes Ph.D., started gardening when he was five years old, and since then he has enthusiastically pursued how to best cultivate plants and cultivate minds.  He currently fulfills those passions as an award-winning associate professor of horticulture at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX.  He is also the host of The Plantastic Podcast, and writes a weekly newsletter titled plant•ed.  

He obtained his Ph.D. in horticultural science from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC; he interned the summer of 2008 at The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, PA; and he has traveled around the US and into eleven countries to gain a national and global perspective of horticulture.  

Recent awards include the 2021 Stephen F. Austin State University Teaching Excellence Award, 2019 Perennial Plant Association’s Academic Award, the 2017 Keep Nacogdoches Beautiful Sustainability Award, the 2016 Perennial Plant Association’s Young Professional of the Year, and a member of GPN’s 2016 Class of 40 Under 40.

His passion has been recognized by peers in interviews in People, Organic Gardening, Greenhouse Grower, AmericanHort Connect, Ken Druse’s Real Dirt, and Nursery Management, and his articles have appeared in The American Gardener, Fine Gardening and Carolina Gardener.


Brook Thompson (She/They) is a Yurok and Karuk Native from Northern California. Growing up she lived and fished on the same land that her ancestors have been on since time immemorial. Brook fights for water and Native American rights through public speaking, academic research, and frontline activism. She has been an intern for the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in D.C., the California State Water Resource Control Board Office of Information Management, Save California Salmon, and currently works as a Restoration Engineer for the Yurok Tribe’s fisheries Design and Construction Program.

Brook is a graduate of Portland State University with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering with a minor in political science and a master’s in environmental engineering at Stanford University and is now attending UC Santa Cruz for a Ph.D. in environmental studies. Miss Thompson’s Ph.D. is focused on how Indigenous Knowledge can be better implemented to into California water policy, Spring vs fall Chinook Salmon nutrition in the Klamath River, and how nontribal organizations can better work with tribes on restoration projects. Thompson’s goal is to bring together water rights and Native American knowledge through engineering, public policy, and social action.


Samantha Nestory is the engagement manager at Stoneleigh: a natural garden in Villanova, PA. Samantha worked in ecological horticulture at Morris Arboretum and Stoneleigh for several years before moving into her current position. Now, she develops educational programming, coordinates public events, and manages the volunteer program at Stoneleigh, using her passion for plants, insects, and people to connect and engage the community.


Wendy Brister is the Marketing Director for Cavano’s Perennials, Inc. (Kingsville MD) and the former Conference Coordinator of the Native Plants in the Landscape Conference (Millersville, PA). Wendy has a BS in Landscape Architecture from Temple University and has been working in varying capacities within the green industry for the past 25 years.


Helena van Vliet is a Biophilic Architect | Biophilic Design Consultant | Scholar, Educator & Speaker on Health in the Built Environment. She is Principal at Helena van Vliet LLC, as well as President of bioPhilly, a non-profit biophilic urbanist organization promoting the link between human health and urban biodiversity in Philadelphia. She is a Steering Committee Member for the International Biophilic Cities Network. As adjunct faculty, Helena teaches Biophilic Design & Urbanism at Thomas Jefferson University. She is a lecturer in the University of Pennsylvania’s Weitzman Executive Program in Design for Sustainability as well as a regular speaker at various other universities, including Drexel, Widener, the Bauhaus Universität Weimar, Germany, and the Politecnico di Milano, Italy.


Thu, November 9, 2023
8:30 am EST - 4:30 pm EST
Event Category:


ELA Office
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