Winter Class Series 2023

Winter Class Series 2023

We are excited to announce the line up for our Winter class series! This year we’ll be highlighting the importance of seeds and seed saving by inviting speakers to consider our 2023 theme, seeds for the future.

Winter classes are Saturdays from 10-11:30 a.m on Zoom. They are $15 each and free for members of the Friends of Allen Centennial Garden. Click on the date or title for more information and to register for each.

Please email Eileen at if you need help with the discount code.

January 21, 2023 (Virtual Presentation)

Speaker: Julie Dawson, Associate Professor, Horticulture Department, UW-Madison

Presentation Title: Seed to Kitchen Vegetable Variety Trials

About the Presentation: The Seed to Kitchen Collaborative connects plant breeders, farmers, gardeners and chefs to improve flavor and quality of organic vegetables. It serves to evaluate new and soon-to-be-released varieties for culinary traits and performance in farms and gardens. The collaborative also includes a network of farmers and gardeners helping to develop new varieties of tomatoes and peppers with independent plant breeders in the Midwest.

Julie Dawson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Research interests include the use of genetic resources in plant breeding for organic systems and methods for participatory selection and variety development. She is also the state extension specialist for urban and regional food systems and does applied research for growers serving local food markets.


January 28, 2023 (Virtual Presentation)

Speaker: Philip Kauth, Executive Director, REAP Food Group

 Presentation Title: From Seed to Farmer to Table – Lessons Learned along a Food Justice Journey

About the Presentation: Phil’s role is to lead the organization’s efforts to grow a sustainable and environmentally sound food system by building farm-to-school and farm-to-business connections involving producers, consumers, community members and policy makers. Phil holds a PhD in Horticultural Sciences and worked previously for eight years with Seed Savers Exchange in Iowa. As Director of Preservation there, he stewarded a collection of open-pollinated seed and plant varieties and a historic apple orchard. His work included collaborations with Asian American farmers researching ancestral food crops, the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network, and the Heirloom Collard Project, a network of collard loving seed savers, farmers, chefs, artists and gardeners who grow, eat, save and share collards.


February 4, 2023 (Virtual and Live Stream from Horticulture Building, UW-Madison)

Speaker: Yusuf Bin-Rella, Chef at UW-Madison DeJope Residence Hall, and Co-founder of TradeRoots Culinary Collective 

Presentation Title: BIPOC Foodways: From Africa to Madison

About the Presentation: Yusuf labels himself as a culinary genealogist, connecting  to his ancestors through food and cooking. He has pursued positions in a number of local restaurant settings and has been a chef at UW for over a decade. Yusuf is also an avid gardener, creating gardens that feature diverse traditional and ethnic food systems and farming practices as part of TradeRoots, a Madison-based group of farmers and chefs with roots in Wisconsin and West Africa. Yusuf consulted on the design and planting of Allen Centennial Garden’s African diaspora garden this past summer and an urban garden at the state capitol featuring plants like Kwanzaa corn, eggplant, collards, and celosia.


February 18, 2023

Speaker: Al Kovaleski, Assistant Professor, Horticulture Department, UW-Madison

Presentation Title: Activity of Woody Perennials Through Winter 

About the Presentation: Al Kovalesky studies the physiological processes that determine how plants control cold hardiness and dormancy during the winter and how that leads to budbreak and flowering in spring.  This knowledge can then be used to inform models predicting phenology to understand how plants can survive in different environments or future climates.  His work explores the question: Can we predict adaptation of a plant to an environment based on winter responses?

Al received an undergraduate degree in agronomic engineering in his native country, Brazil, before coming to the US to pursue graduate studies in horticulture at the  University of Florida and Cornell University. While conducting his doctoral research, he became interested in the relationship between bud development and cold hardiness. His focus since coming to UW in 2021 is research at the molecular level to understand the clock mechanism that plants use to keep track of time at low temperatures and know when to break dormancy to start growing again.

February 25, 2023 (Jointly sponsored by Madison Area Master Gardeners Association)

Speaker: Kathryn Deery, Head Horticulturist, Lurie Garden in Millennium Park, Chicago

Presentation Title: Gardening for the Seasons: Lessons from Lurie Garden

 About the Presentation: Using Lurie Garden as a model, we will explore choosing the “right plant, for the right place,” perennials for every season, designing with native plants, mindful watering, and best practices for cutting back your garden for wildlife and insects. The high diversity and concentration of plants makes Lurie a leader in plant selection, management, and ecologically sensitive maintenance practices. With a few simple adjustments to way we garden, a beautifully designed space that considers sustainability and ecology is within everyone’s reach.

Kathryn is passionate about the vital role public gardens play in communities.  Her goal is to maintain the design integrity of Lurie Garden while facilitating the garden’s adaptation and evolution.  She previously held positions in horticulture and public programming at the Chicago Botanic Garden.  Prior to that, she worked in habitat restoration with the Golden Gate Parks Conservancy and served as a Conservation Corps North Bay AmeriCorps member.