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The Garden Club of America’s 2024 Annual Meeting in Hartford, CT


May 08, 2024

576 leaders go Beyond the Green

The Garden Club of America’s 2024 Annual Meeting was held in Hartford, Connecticut April 26-28. 576 leaders gathered to share ideas, enjoy informative workshops, listen to inspirational speakers, tour local gardens, and enjoy a multi-faceted flower show that illustrated the conference title Beyond the Green.
Originally scheduled to run during the Covid years, the three-day conference made up for lost time. Ten new National Medalists were announced at Saturday night’s Awards Dinner & Ceremony. These included scholar Sir Peter Crane, advocate Lisa W. Ott, plant curator Rick Darke, regenerative ocean farming pioneer Bren Smith, advocate and filmmaker Tom Campion, preservationist Warrie Price, environmental philanthropist Gilbert Butler, advocate and former GCA President Anne “Dede” Neal Petri, and landscape architect David A. Rubin. The organization Save the Sound was awarded a medal for their fifty years of work to protect and improve the land, air, and water in Connecticut, Southern New York, and Long Island Sound.
Attendees participated in a Saturday morning business meeting led by GCA President Marilyn Donahue. There they heard from GCA Scholar Charly Frisk who spoke about “How Seed Diversity Can Protect Our Food as the World Warms.” They also met the 2024 GCA Honorary Members - Southeastern Grasslands Institute Director, Dwayne Estes; San Diego Botanic Garden President, Ari Novy; ethnobotanist and Emory University professor, Cassandra Leah Quave; and Denver Botanical Garden CEO, Brian Vogt. Quave’s message that there is “a vast untapped world of discovery out there,” but that “change doesn’t happen overnight” echoed much of what these medalists said about their longstanding commitment to the environment.
Keynote Speaker Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, spoke on “Reasons to be Hopeful on Climate” citing Nelson Mandela’s admonition that “your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears” and discussed the recent launch of MetSat, a satellite that gathers data on methane emissions globally.
Workshops included a review of Connecticut native Frederick Law Olmsted’s work in his home state—which fortuitously took place on what would have been his 202nd birthday! Other presentations explored nature-based solutions to shoreline erosion, female-influenced French garden design, and wildlife photography tips. A private IMAX viewing of Medalist Tom Campion’s film The Arctic: Our Last Great Wilderness took place at the nearby Connecticut Science Center.  Melissa Newman wrapped up the conference with a humorous and heartfelt account of her parents’ love story as told in her new book Head over Heels: Paul Newman and Joanna Woodward: A Love Affair in Words and Pictures.
Beyond the Green was beyond fabulous!


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