Photo by Max Licher, Showy Milkweed

Listen to the VerdeValleyTV’s Jenn Cohen as she interviews Michael Spielman starting at 32:25:  click here

This year we made some changes.  First, the event was held at the VERDE VALLEY SCHOOL, in the Village of Oak Creek.  Secondly, we had only one keynote speaker and slots for three workshops; nine different topics were repeated twice, with each workshop lasting one hour including Q&A.

It was a beautiful day and the setting was idyllic.  Over 130 were registered for the event and everyone was enthusiastic.  After perusing the Silent Auction items and enjoying coffee/tea and muffins, the program began at 8:30 am.  The committee of Barbara Saul, Carol Adams, Gerry Snyder, Lin Ennis, Lisa Voss, Michelle Snyder, Rich Spinelli, Sarah Rowley, as well as extra helpers Garry Neil and Paul Ward were thanked for their many hours of service to this Event.

Kathleen Ventura of Sedona Compost, also known now as Compost Crowd as they have expanded into Flagstaff gave a brief summary of the company’s goals. This service offers a weekly or bi-weekly residential and commercial food collection with the hope of increasing Sedona’s sustainability one bucket at a time.

Next, the President of Keep Sedona Beautiful, Bill Pumphrey, spoke about the many things that KSB does:  in addition to the NPW, they offer the Speaker Series, the Dark Skies initiative, the Litter Lifters, and the KSB Awards of Excellence all in the effort of preserving the wonder of the Sedona area’s scenic natural beauty now and in the future.  He directed the audience to get involved and make a difference.

He also spoke of Nancy Spinelli’s service to the Native Plant Workshop over the last ten years.  After chairing the event for the last nine years, she is retiring and allowing someone else to take the reins.

In appreciation of her efforts, he presented her with a metallic print of Mike Koopsen’s Reflections of Oak Creek:

So, if anyone is interested in chairing the event, or even just being on the committee, please contact the KSB office.

It was announced that all three vendors at the workshop, Jay’s Bird Bard, Verde River Growers and the Verde Valley School, were Certified Sustainable at the Conservationist (Bronze) level by the Sustainability Alliance of which KSB is a member.  Keep Sedona Beautiful was certified at the Innovator or Silver level after preserving their historic building and repurposing the materials by giving their old decking to Gardens for Humanity.  They also buy all green power from APS and plan to upgrade the energy efficiency of their building.  Vote with your wallet by supporting these certified businesses.  To get your business certified, please go to

Another special exhibit was promoting the Smithsonian WaterWays since the Verde Valley was chosen as one of the sites.  This exhibit will be housed at the Camp Verde Community Library from August 24 through October 6.   “Water/Ways explores the endless motion of the water cycle, its effect on landscape, settlement and migration, and its impact on culture and spirituality. It looks at political and economic efforts to ensure access to water, and explores how human creativity and resourcefulness provide new ways to protect water resources and renew our relationship with the natural environment.”

The Herkenham Award acknowledges the people, businesses, or organizations that further the education and implementation of native plant landscaping. This year’s recipient was Dena Greenwood, an educator and conservationist who loved birding and hiking.   Throughout the Sedona/Verde Valley, she was known as the premier birding guide and natural history instructor who shared her love of nature with all of us. We were honored to present Dena Greenwood the 13th Herkenham Award. Dena’s husband, Randy Miller, accepted the honor.







Her wall plaque states: For your outstanding dedication to educating the public on the interrelationships of birds, insects, conservation and native plants:                         Dena Greenwood 2019

In addition to the personal plaque, her name is also on the larger plaque with the names of all the Herkenham award recipients. This plaque is always on display at the Pushmataha Center.


Michael Spielman, our keynote speaker, has been the Farm Manager and Orchard Keeper at The Verde Valley School since 2013. His talk covered the successes and failures of turning a .9 acre lot from dirt to a productive farm that supplies the school with all the greens the students can eat.  This international school encourages the students to get down and dirty to help build their raised beds, plant their fruit trees and harvest the fruits and vegetables of their labor.  His power point allowed the audience to engage in the activities and see the big picture.

After the keynote, everyone spent the rest of the day in one of three workshops or enjoying a delicious lunch.  Many were able to eat outside the foyer on the stone steps to enjoy the beautiful day.  Positive comments were heard about both the new location and the new format.

Thank you, everyone, for attending this, our 40th annual Native Plant Workshop.



Michael Spielman:  Backyard Homesteading in the High Desert


Janie Agyagos:  Attracting Butterflies!  (Only openings in Workshop 2 at 12 pm)

John Chorlton:   Walking Tour of VVS Sustainability (Rain or Shine, Maximum of 15)

Clare Licher:  The Medicine All Around Us:  VVS Native Plants Create Essential Oils (Max of 20) (Only openings in Workshop 1 at 10 am)

Max Licher:   Native Plants Walkabout (Rain or Shine, Maximum of 15)

Jeff Schalau:  Sustainable and Safe Vegetable Gardening   (Only openings in Workshop 1 at 10 am)

Richard Sidy:   The Pleasures of Color, Texture and Resilience in the Native Garden

Nannette Wear:  Bokashi Bin Composting (Openings in Workshops 1 and 2)

Patty West:  Welcoming the Wild Into Your Garden (Rain or Shine, Maximum of 15)

Amy Zimmermann:    Backyards For Birds

Included in the price of admission of $25 for KSB members and $35 for the General Public, the attendees heard the keynote speaker, went to a choice of three hour-long workshops from the nine offered, had breakfast savories donated by Bashas, coffee and tea.  Lunch was vegetarian, vegan and chicken salad sandwiches along with chips and cookies donated by Wildflower Bread Company .  The apples were donated by Michelle and Gerry Snyder.   Kinetico supplied water stations and people brought their own mugs or water bottles to make this a Zero-Waste Event.  Additional ceramic mugs were loaned by Sedona Recycles and SnapFitness.

Also note that the our Business Sponsors have supplied various virtual coupons and flyers; this made the event more sustainable.  Please thank these businesses for their support.

Vendors were Jay’s Bird Barn, Verde River Growers and the Verde Valley School with various plants and products for sale.

Keep Sedona Beautiful, Inc., acting through the stewardship of its members and volunteers, is committed to protect and sustain the unique scenic  beauty and natural environment of the Greater Sedona Area.