Gardening Seminars


We’ll have a great selection of educational presentations at our in-depth Gardening Seminars on Friday and Saturday in the Farm and Ranch Building at the Fairgrounds. Admission to all the Gardening Seminars is included with general Show admission.

Download Our Seminar Schedule

Friday, March 1, 2019

10:00   Grafting Tomatoes: The Why’s and How To’s – John Gavin

John was raised on a farm on poultry, cow/calf and fresh market tomato farm in Cleveland County in a small community called Rye. He received his BS in Plant Science from the University of Arkansas at Monticello and his MS in Horticultural Food Science from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. After graduating from Fayetteville, John worked for Allen Canning Company as Quality Assurance Coordinator in Siloam Springs AR and Moorhead Mississippi MS. He began his Extension career in 1984 as Nevada County as an Agriculture Agent for 2 years before transferring to Union County. He was able to move closer to home when he became the Agriculture Agent in Bradley County in 1990. He has a wife Sandy for 15 years and has a 13-year-old son, Weston.

11:15   Native Trees in the Landscape: Selection, Care, and Maintenance – Carol Guffey Jr.

Caroll Guffey Jr. is an Extension Forester for the University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service. He received his B.S. in Forest Management UA Monticello in 1981 and an M.S. in Forest Policy from UA Monticello in 2005. As Extension Forester he developed, organized, and implemented continuing education short courses for natural resource professionals in Arkansas. He also worked as a resource for County Extension Agents to help with questions and concerns dealing with forest management, shade, and urban trees, prescribed fire, forest insect and disease, GIS and GPS, and forest landowner issues. He gives numerous presentations on tree care for Master Gardener groups as well as others, and recently completed master gardener training himself and is now a Grant County Master Gardener. He is an Arkansas Registered Forester and has served as the past Chair of the AR State Board of Registration for Foresters. He is also a member of the Society of American Foresters (SAF), past chair for the Ouachita Society of American Foresters. In 2012, was selected as a Fellow by the SAF. He has also served as the past chair of the Arkansas Tree Farm Committee, past board member of the Arkansas Urban Forestry Council, and past member of the AR Prescribe Fire Council.

1:00   Farming in the Rock: Lessons from a decade of producing and marketing organically grown flowers and vegetables in the capital city – Chris Hiryak

Chris lives on Coleman Creek in a garden home in Midtown Little Rock that his friends call the tree house. He is an organic farmer, pragmatic food activist, minimalist, artist, and yoga practitioner. He was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas. His mother and father are originally from small towns in the Arkansas Delta, and from an early age, his parents instilled the importance and value of a hard work ethic, discipline, accountability and responsibility to community. He completed a triple major as a Donaghey Scholar at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and holds B.A. degrees in Spanish, History and International Studies. In 2009, he was fortunate to be accepted into, LeadAR, a leadership program through the Division of Agriculture at the University of Arkansas. Through this experience, he learned about economics, politics, industry, and agriculture in communities all throughout the state of Arkansas. He also learned about access to our political system so that he could be an agent of change. At the same time, he immersed himself in organic farming through the apprenticeship program at Dripping Springs Garden, an organic farming operation in the Ozark Mountains in northwest Arkansas. While he sharpened his horticulture skills and marketing know-how, he was simultaneously creating a strong professional network and developing his skills in leadership. Chris says, “Organic farming started as a hobby, became a passion, and has been an obsession ever since. I love growing organic fruits, vegetables and flowers for market.”

2:15   Ten Steps to Great Roses in Arkansas – John Baker

John Baker is a Consulting Rosarian certified by the American Rose Society. His role as a consulting rosarian is to provide free information and consulting for people in Arkansas who may be having problems growing roses. He is an active member and past-President of the Central Arkansas Rose Society. He is also an active member of the Faulkner County Master Gardeners. He retired in 2012 as a Professor of Health Policy and Management from UAMS. He lives in Conway with his wife Pat and their rescue dog Annie.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

10:00   Pollinators in the Garden – Jon Zawislak

Jon Zawislak is the bee specialist for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. He has been working with honey bees since 1998 and is equally at home in the bee yard, the laboratory or the classroom. Jon has a background in botany and entomology and is a certified Master Beekeeper. He teaches workshops and classes for new and experienced beekeepers, throughout Arkansas and beyond, and spreads the word about the importance of pollinators. He and his family operate Walnut Valley Honey Company in Little Rock, producing great products from the hive, and supplying pollinators for area community gardens.

11:15   An introduction to Aquaponics – Nolen Buffalo

Nolen has been an avid indoor and hydroponic gardener for over 20 years. He has a strong background in commercial garden management and new commercial gardens. Nolen owns and operates The Water Buffalo, a garden specialty store in Little Rock where he supplies local hobbyists with garden hardware, technical support, and consultation.

12:30   Garden Design Made Easy – Bob Byers

Bob holds a Master of Landscape Architecture from Louisiana State University. He worked professionally at Apostle Islands Nat. Lakeshore, WI, and for design firms in Jacksonville, FL., Birmingham, AL, and Fayetteville, AR. During his 20 year tenure at Garvan Woodland Gardens, he worked with staff and volunteers to build plant collections to over 3,500 different varieties and new gardens and facilities totaling over $18 million. Bob has published articles for Arkansas Gardener and national publications including The Public Garden and American Nurseryman. He has presented programs at state and international Master Gardener Conferences, the AHS Children’s Gardening Symposium, and the American Public Garden Association. Since April 2015 he has served as the Director of the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, where he works with 60 dedicated employees, over 1,000 volunteers, and several active support groups. He is enjoying learning the large and varied flora of Texas and speaking on gardening and conservation topics.

1:45   Shade Loving Perennials – Janet Carson

Janet Carson is a horticulturist living in Little Rock. She has her BS and MS degrees from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Janet began her career as a county agent in Pulaski County covering all aspects of horticulture. She began the Arkansas Master Gardener program with three other counties in 1980. Upon completion of her Masters, Janet moved to the state extension office to take on the role of statewide horticulture specialist. She retired January 2, 2019, after a 38-year career with the Cooperative Extension Service. She will continue to write weekly columns in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Saturdays and monthly columns in Arkansas Living and Arkansas Gardener magazines, along with a blog Planit Janet. She also will lead garden travel programs, as well as spend more time in her own garden. She was the 2003 recipient of the John White Award for Excellence in Extension Education and received the 2010 Extension Educator Award from the American Society for Horticultural Science. Her first book In the Garden was published in 2010, and her second book Field to Feast was published in 2016, both by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Janet is married with two grown children and two dogs.