The St. Croix Valley Master Gardeners Association will host Garden U on Saturday, March 16 at the Hudson House Grand Hotel in Hudson. On-site registration starts at 8:30 a.m. The $40 fee includes lunch and speaker handouts.

Join SCVMGA and area gardeners for the "Prairies, Berries, and Trees" gardening education seminar. Lunch is included, as well as door prizes and the "Garden Marketplace" vendor fair to browse all things garden-related.

The first speaker of the morning is Alex Bouthilet, a member of the board of directors for Standing Cedars Community Land Conservancy and chair of their land management committee.

Bouthilet's presentation will introduce attendees to prairies and savannas in the local area. He will share personal experiences in implementing prairie and savanna restoration with USFWS, The Prairie Enthusiasts, and Standing Cedars Community Land Conservancy. He will also discuss why native plants are important components of a healthy ecosystem and why we need more of them in the landscape.

Jerry Clark, the second speaker of the morning, is the Agriculture Agent and an Associate Professor in Chippewa County with the Division of Extension UW-Madison. Clark holds a Master's of Science in Agriculture Education from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His presentation will cover the foundations of growing blueberries, grapes, raspberries and strawberries in the home garden. His discussion will cover soil fertility, summer time care and variety selection including disease resistant varieties.

After lunch, Rachel Henderson of Mary Dirty Face Farm near Menomonie will inspire attendees to try growing tree fruits in a home orchard or garden. Henderson will cover site considerations and the cultural needs of a variety of different fruits that are well-suited to a home scale. Having grown many fruit species since starting an orchard, she will share her learnings on opportunities and risks. Henderson will also discuss cultivar selection, preparation and planting, tree care and maintenance. Fungal disease and a few major insect pests are the biggest challenges to produce fruit in our climate, so participants can expect a basic overview of the most common ones and suggestions on organic practices for maximizing edible fruit. The workshop will also emphasize the importance of fruit tree pruning and training, and go over the fundamentals

Henderson and her husband manage their mixed-fruit orchard organically, and have been certified organic since 2016. Mary Dirty Face fruit can be found in the Menomonie Market Food Co-op, Twin Cities farmers markets, restaurants and bakeries, as well as a growing CSA-style Fruit Share, distributed in the Twin Cities and Chippewa Valley.

Pre-registration can be done by mailing a check payable to SCVMGA to Barrette-SCVMGA at 1358 County Road V, Houlton, WI, 54082. Questions can be directed to 715-549-6438 or cbarrette1// for more information.