Let’s Explore!

Why attend a conference in a vibrant city if you never leave the hotel?! Read on to find out about field trips that are available to NCYGS attendees.


Pre-Symposium Tour: Asheville, North Carolina (Wednesday, July 12, 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.)

(Additional fee for this trip, which includes bus transportation, lunch, and tour fees)

(Boxed breakfast to be provided for attendees at 6:30 a.m.)

Join us on an exciting excursion to nearby Asheville, North Carolina! Participants will have a private morning tour of the Biltmore Estate gardens with the director of horticulture. The Biltmore Estate, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and spanning 8,000 acres, is considered America’s first managed forest. In the afternoon we will explore The North Carolina Arboretum, a 434-acre public garden situated in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, that offers extensive cultivated landscapes featuring the region’s diverse plants. This full-day trip on Wednesday leaves from Knoxville at 7:30 a.m. and returns at 5:00 p.m. Additional fee required.

Receptions with Tours
Included in full symposium registration and in registration for respective days 

Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum (Wednesday, July 12, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.)

The Wednesday evening reception will take place at Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum in the spectacular, American Architecture Award-winning Dogwood Center. The Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum is located on 47 acres of former Howell Nurseries and features walking trails, display gardens, unique & historic horticulture, and over two miles of distinctive stone walls and timeless buildings. 



University of Tennessee Gardens, Knoxville (Thursday, July 13, 3:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.)

The Thursday afternoon reception will take place at University of Tennessee Knoxville Gardens. This flagship location of the UT Gardens functions as an outdoor laboratory, teaching and research facility, and public garden. The UT Gardens cultivates thousands of plants and is recognized as an official All America Selections test site for evaluating new plants for the ornamental market. Garden staff and volunteers will lead tours for attendees. The reception will also feature remarks by UTIA’s senior leadership on their mission to provide Real.Life.Solutions.™ to many of society’s most pressing issues.


Private Knoxville Estate (Friday, July 14, 4:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.)

The Friday evening reception will take place at a beautiful private estate in Knoxville that features gorgeous green spaces and gardens, in addition to a greenhouse. Many thanks to the generosity of the host!  

Concurrent Themed Tours (Friday, July 14  8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.)
Included in full symposium and Friday registration  

Choices, choices! Select one of the following tours to get a closer look at garden spaces around Knoxville, Tennessee. 

Tour 1: Community Farm

This tour will visit CAC Beardsley Community Farm, which provides culturally relevant produce, accessible education, and land and resources for gardening. Beardsley manages 30 community garden sites, grows 10,000 pounds of produce each year, coordinates a food pantry, offers services for refugees and seniors, and holds gardening classes for youth. We will then visit two of the South Knoxville school farms that Beardsley manages: Dogwood Elementary School and South Knoxville Elementary School. 

Tour 2: School Gardens 

This tour will visit the Episcopal School of Knoxville and Hardin Valley Academy Elementary School in the far western reaches of Knoxville. The Episcopal School, which highlights outdoor engagement in its curriculum, demonstrates the range of school garden biodiversity possibilities, from tree scanning to rain collection to animal and pollinator monitoring. Hardin Valley Academy, which is maintained in collaboration with master gardeners, explores different approaches to garden design (such as emphasizing accessibility, colors, and the senses), as well as to the science of composting and plant life cycles. 

Tour 3: Urban Parks 

This tour will visit the Ijams Nature Center and Lakeshore Park along the Tennessee River. Ijams Nature Center encourages stewardship of the natural world by providing an urban greenspace for people to learn about and enjoy the outdoors through engaging experiences. It showcases over 300 acres of conserved land and counts among its uses a nature preschool and a playscape restoration. Lakeshore Park 185-acre general recreation public park that is enjoyed by a million visitors every year. It features an accessible woodland play area, a demonstration vegetable garden, wildflower plantings, and beautiful views of the Smoky Mountains.   

Post-Symposium Volunteer Opportunity

BattleField Farm & Gardens (Saturday, July 15, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.)

Join us for an afternoon volunteer opportunity at BattleField Farms & Gardens. Battlefield Farm is an urban farm with the mission of transforming the community’s relationship to land and food in East Knoxville’s underserved communities. The Farm is working to end food insecurity by partnering with community members to make fresh food accessible and to cultivate land-based sovereignty through education, workforce development, and direct relationships to land. There is an additional fee for this trip that covers transportation and materials.