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Drake conference explores people, plants and policy

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The Drake Law School Agricultural Law Center will host the first-ever National Summit on Garden Policy Sept. 7 and 8.

The two-day conference, titled “Gardens For All: People, Plants and Policy,” will examine how public policy can be used to promote opportunities for individuals and communities to garden.

“The goal of the conference is to bring together leaders from across the gardening and policy community to examine how public policy impacts gardening,” said Neil Hamilton, Drake professor of law and director of the Agricultural Law Center. “The objective is to identify and share examples of best practices for how enlightened public policy can assist individuals and communities with realizing the benefits of gardening.”

Public policy at all levels of government will be examined, including local actions by municipalities and schools; state actions through the work of public health agencies and organizations like Master Gardeners; and federal initiatives through efforts by the USDA and other national organizations.

Speakers at the conference will examine the experience of garden-related organizations in dealing with public policy, such as the creation and protection of community gardens, promotion of school gardens, preservation of heirloom plant genetics, and the integration of gardening into health and wellness initiatives.

Those attending the conference will have the opportunity to tour a number of interesting garden facilities in the greater Des Moines area including the Des Moines Botanical Center; Brenton Arboretum near Dallas Center; the Neal Smith Prairie Learning Center near Prairie City; Salisbury House and Gardens; Terrace Hill; Living History Farms; and the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden.

Attendees of the conference will refine and ratify a set of Principles of Garden Policy for use by organizations and public officials. The Drake University Agricultural Law Center will publish the conference proceedings as a special report in 2007.