Inaugural DIG Symposium offers reliable, research-based garden techniques to public

Altoona, Iowa – Registration is open for the inaugural Dig Into Gardening (DIG) Symposium to be held March 16, 2024 at the FFA Enrichment Center on the DMACC campus in Ankeny. The Symposium will provide participants research-based gardening and horticulture techniques and best practices all centered on the theme of “Growing a Greener Tomorrow.” This daylong event is presented in partnership with the Polk County Master Gardeners and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in Polk County.

DIG Keynote Graphic

Symposium attendees will learn from a broad range of experts including local Master Gardener volunteers, ISU specialists and educators, and other local professionals. The DIG Symposium will feature two keynote addresses, breakout sessions, and exhibitor hall. 

“What will set the DIG Symposium apart from other home and garden shows will be its focus on trustworthy, reliable research-based gardening and horticulture information,” Stephanie Harrington, natural resources program coordinator for ISU Extension and Outreach in Polk County. “The Polk County Master Gardeners will utilize all the information and resources offered by Iowa State University to educate attendees across a wide range of relevant and interesting gardening topics.” 

DIG Breakout sessions Graphic

The 2024 DIG Symposium, “Growing a Greener Tomorrow,” will highlight information, speakers and breakout sessions centered on sustainability and how to incorporate this into gardens, lawns, and landscapes. The morning keynote Benjamin Vogt, author and owner of Monarch Gardens in Omaha, Nebraska, will discuss the idea of “a new garden ethic” and the afternoon speaker, Ed Lyon, director of the Reiman Gardens in Ames, Iowa, will speak on climate smart gardening.

Additionally, participants can select from six different breakout sessions with topics ranging from seed saving for the backyard garden to supporting pollinators to growing edibles in containers. 

“We hope that those attending, whether it’s the home gardener or seasoned professional, can walk away informed, inspired, and ready to dig into their gardens,” Harrington said.


With nearly 200 gardening enthusiasts expected to attend, exhibitors also have the opportunity to share their products and expertise. A handful of tables are still available to local businesses and organizations, as well as sponsorship opportunities. Proceeds from the DIG Symposium go directly back to the Polk County Master Gardener volunteer service program where it supports Polk County through educational events, youth engagement projects, and three local demonstration gardens. 

Registration is $85, is open to the public, and includes lunch. To register or for the full details on speakers, schedule or exhibitor opportunities visit


About the Polk County Master Gardeners
Polk County Master Gardeners is a volunteer service organization where advanced horticulture education and training is provided in exchange for volunteer service within the community. In 2023, 375 active Master Gardener volunteers served the community by:
•    Donating nearly 7,000 pounds of fresh produce to local food pantries.
•    Providing community spaces for education and respite through three community gardens. 
o    Demonstration Garden, Urbandale
o    Discovery Garden, Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines
o    Enabling Garden, Altoona 
•    Serving over 13,500 service hours!  
About ISU Extension and Outreach in Polk County 
For over 100 years, ISU Extension and Outreach in Polk County has served its residents by connecting them to research and resources developed by Iowa State University. Knowledge and programs offered through the ISU 
Extension Polk County office have been specifically tailored to represent, enhance, and meet the needs of Polk County residents and community. For 2023 ISU Extension in Polk County will focus on local issues including:     K-12 youth outreach; family and food; and agriculture and the environment. ISU Extension and Outreach in Polk County is a part of a 99-county campus backed by research to serve all Iowans to create a strong Iowa.