Garden Guru

Gardening experts attend Iowa City gardens at regular times throughout the growing season. Visit the gardens for free food, inspiration, learning and fun.

Got gardening questions? Ask a Garden Guru.

From May through October, garden experts will help you...

  • Increase yields in vegetable and herb gardens

  • Successfully grow fruit trees and berry bushes

  • Mitigate the impact of climate change through gardening

  • Grow habitat for pollinators and other wildlife

  • Increase your connection with nature and community

2021 Theme: Urban Bushcrafting for Families

With the COVID-19 pandemic still upon us, gardening topics this year are designed to help families form lasting connections with nature by practicing gardening and wilderness skills right outside their backdoor.

Bushcrafting is the practice of thriving in the wilderness using both modern and primitive skills. It simultaneously brings out a love of living and a love of nature through experiential activities that highlight gifts provided by the natural world.

We wish you an abundance of wellness.


Mother Nature will care for anyone who takes time to get to know her. These classes will help you...

  • Increase self-reliance

  • Prepare to help your community during emergencies

  • Gain greater family and neighborhood cohesion

Grow Easy Fruits

Sat, May 1    10 - 11:30 am

Wetherby Edible Forest


Grow Easy Vegetables and Herbs

Sat, May 8    10 - 11:30 am

Edible Classroom

Forage Wild Edibles

Sat, Jul 3    10 - 12 pm

Hickory Hill Park South: 1439 Bloomington St

Build a Toad House

Sat, Aug 7    9 - 10:30 am

Creekside/McPherson Edible Forest

Grow Herbal Tea

Sat, Sep 4    10 - 12 pm

Edible Classroom

Cancelled: Track Backyard Critters

Sun, Sep 5    2 - 3:30 pm

Hickory Hill Park South: 1439 Bloomington St

Cancelled: Easy Outdoor Cooking

Sun, Sep 12    10:30 am - 12:30 pm

Kardos Wellness Residence


Grow Herbs in Turfgrass

Sat, Sep 25    10 - 11:30 am

Edible Classroom

Grow Easy Pollinator Habitat

Sun, Oct 24    2 - 4 pm

Wetherby Edible Forest


Most classes will be conducted at public gardens listed below. If you cannot attend a class, please visit the gardens afterward to see what was done, pick up publications, tend the garden and harvest food.

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Fee: $5 per family (up to 4 people)



All classes are free to Backyard Abundance members. Learn about membership.

Please register soon: Classes are limited to 15-20 families (20-30 people) and they are expected to fill quickly.


Masks are optional for fully vaccinated people and 6' distancing is still recommended. Requirements may change based upon CDC recommendations.


Edible Classroom

Robert A. Lee Rec. Center

220 South Gilbert St.

Iowa City

Guru Attendance Times:

2nd and 4th Saturdays

10 am - 11 am

Enjoy downtown lunch in the garden and learn about...

  • Harvesting free food.

  • Low-maintenance gardening in raised beds.

  • Small patches of fruit trees and berry bushes.

  • Pollinator habitat.


Creekside Park

New orchard at

1858 7th Ave Court

Iowa City

Guru Attendance Times:

1st and 3rd Saturdays

10 am - 11 am

At Iowa City's newest edible forest, learn about...

  • Newly planted fruit trees and berry bushes.

  • Ground covers.

  • Medicinal benefits of herbs.

  • Pollinator habitat.


Wetherby Edible Forest

Existing orchard at

2400 Taylor Dr.

Iowa City

Guru Attendance Times:

1st and 3rd Wednesdays

5 pm - 6 pm

At this mature edible forest, learn about...

  • Harvesting free food.

  • Large plots of fruit trees and berry bushes.

  • Pollinator and bird habitat.

  • Increasing soil health.

  • Regenerative agriculture.


Join neighbors to transform landscapes into spaces that help reduce the impact of climate change.

At all Garden Guru events and public gardens, we'll provide top tips for how you can create a climate-friendly garden.

  • Grow vegetables, herbs or fruits.

  • Plant trees or shrubs.

  • Cover bare soil with mulch or ground covers.

  • Compost.

  • Seed and grow cover crops.

  • Seed lawn with Dutch white clover or violets.

  • Use natural products instead of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.

This program was created in conjunction with the Iowa City Parks and Recreation Department and is funded by the DNR Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education Program (REAP CEP).


It would not be possible without these sponsors and supporters. Please frequent these generous organizations to thank them for donations of materials and funds.

Logo: Iowa City Parks an Recreation