Whether you’re in the Yukon, Alaska, or Arizona, your ground is the foundation of gardening, and that is the focus of the keynote event at a conference taking place in Skagway this month. Typically held in Juneau, the bi-annual Southeast Alaska Garden Conference will be held in Skagway for the first time, July 19 to 21, 2013.

The drive to Skagway offers Yukoners the opportunity to participate in a variety of workshops including soil analysis and composting; growing fruits and berries; northern weed control; and landscape planning.

The conference, hosted by the Skagway Garden Club, also features 10 speakers discussing topics ranging from gardening for northern pollinators to cooking with local edibles.

The Skagway Garden Club founder and 2013 conference chair, Charlotte Jewell, is particularly pleased to be able to present Anchorage master gardener and soil expert Jeff Lowenfels.

“The thing that’s most exciting to me is the keynote speaker,” Jewell says.

“This is a famous northern gardener, who’s been working in the north for probably 40 years – I’ve known about him for 35 years – who speaks all over the United States, yet he’s never spoken in Skagway, the Garden City of Alaska. His book, ‘Teaming with Microbes’, has been reviewed as one of the most important garden book in the last 25 years. He’s a very dynamic and captivating speaker.”

Lowenfels’ garden column in the Anchorage Daily News is the longest running garden column in the United States. He is the former president of the Garden Writers of America, a Garden Writer’s Fellow and is founder of Plant A Row for The Hungry, a national program that encourages gardeners to plant one row in their gardens dedicated to feed the hungry. Lowenfels co-authored the book, “Teaming with Microbes, The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web,” which won the Garden Writers of America Gold Award.

At the garden conference, Lowenfels’ lecture is based on information from this book and will answer the why’s and how’s of organic gardening.

“It’ll give Yukoners insight into developing the best possible soils from their gardens,” Jewell says. “Two of our speakers are from Anchorage, where the climate is very similar to the Yukon. Skagway’s climate is much more mild than Anchorage.

“Additionally, this weekend is going to be fun. Fun, informative and with great food. One of the reasons we want to include breakfast, lunch and dinner is so that we create a social setting where people can network and interact with other gardeners.”

It will also feature activities for kids and tours of Skagway’s finest current gardens as well as historic garden sites. The Klondike Gold Rush National Park will be presenting the history of the Klondike Gold Rush through the eyes of a gardener and will include an introduction to the park’s Herbarium.

The cost for the conference is $99 per person, which includes a Friday evening reception; breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday; and coffee on Sunday. This year’s conference is sponsored by the Skagway Convention and Visitors Bureau.

There will be camping available, in addition to the hotels and RV parks.

For more information, contact Charlotte Jewell by phone 907-612-0115, or email skagwaygardenclub@gmail.com. More information is also available on the Skagway Garden Club’s website: www.SkagwayGardenClub.weebly.com.