Classes and Educational Programs

Ecological Gardening Boot Camp

Wellfield is pleased to offer our popular Gardening Boot Camp class series, this year with an earth-friendly focus! If you’ve recently purchased a home, or you really want to change up how you care for your little plot of earth, this Introduction to Eco-Friendly Gardening series is just for you. Join us for one or all of the sessions to learn from special guest instructors and Wellfield Horticulture staff as they share their passion and tell you all you need to know to begin caring for your garden.

Classes will be held outdoors, with social distancing enforced. Masks will be required. Class notes will be available on Google Docs and shared with students prior to class.

Dates: Tuesdays, April 20, 27 & May 4, 11, 18 from 4-6 p.m.
Individual Class: $16 WBG Member /$20 Public
Series Pricing: $64 WBG Member /$80 Public – Purchase the series, get one class FREE!

Note: Series pricing will be available until class starts on April 20th. Choose “Adult-SERIES” to receive the discount for the series.
Wellfield members: make sure to register/log in to receive your member discount, or call/visit our Visitors Cottage and we’ll get you signed up!


Tuesday, April 20- Organic Lawn Care – Brett Pepper
Are you looking for an alternative to traditional chemical approaches taken by the lawn care industry? Then take this opportunity to learn from organic lawn care professional, Brett Pepper, how to care for your prized turf with the least negative impact. Learn proper mowing, maintenance and soil building techniques. Learn how adding biodiversity protects plants from drought and disease. Use these techniques to create a flourishing lawn, out-competing weeds while creating a safe place for the whole household!  

Tuesday, April 27- Soil Health & Composting – Brett Pepper
The secret to organic gardening is feeding the soil beneath your feet. Learn the power of good composting with the resources you already have onsite, how to build your own pile, and how to spread humus to greatest effect. Join local green industry professional Brett Pepper as he uncovers composting secrets and explores the fascinating ecosystem that is the missing link between the fertilizer you apply and the healthy plants you hope to grow.

Tuesday, May 4- Vegetable Gardening 101 – Kelly Tooker
Growing your own healthy vegetables while nurturing Mother Earth is a daunting task. Where to begin? Kelly Tooker, with years of growing experience, leads class participants through everything a beginning gardener needs to know from seed to fruit, soil to kitchen. Topics include: garden layout, space saving techniques, open pollinated varieties, fertilization and how to fight common pests and diseases organically. 

Tuesday, May 11- Small Fruit and Tree Growing 101 – Jon Weaver
Growing a backyard orchard and small fruit is a challenge for even the experienced grower, but for longtime Elkhart County horticulturist Jon Weaver it is a cinch. Learn from one of the County’s best how to get tasty fruit while not harming the environment. Bring your specific growing questions and leave with a great foundation for growing sweet fruit organically.

Tuesday, May 18- Perennial Design and Care 101 – Wellfield Horticulture Staff
Wonder how Wellfield staff create and maintain beautiful perennial gardens? Growing a beautiful ecologically based perennial garden starts with understanding the role of each plant in a design, placing and then caring properly for them. Learn the basics of designing, fertilizing, cutting back for greater bloom and how to lessen the workload from garden staff member Josh Steffen.

Instructor Biographies:

Brett Pepper is the owner of Grassroots Organic Land & Lawn in Edwardsburg, MI. Brett loves to teach classes like this to spread knowledge and change the way people think about how plants grow and soil health. He loves connecting people to the community through their soil. For him, it is more than a business, it’s a human health issue. Brett loves teaching because he always gets to learn more with each class he teaches! Brett’s sessions will focus on Organic Lawn Care, Composting and the importance of soil health.

Jon Weaver worked at Martin’s Pet & Garden Center in downtown Elkhart for 45 years, 25 of which as co-owner. He has been growing fruit trees and berries in his home garden for over 40 years. In addition to volunteering at Wellfield, he is currently on the advisory board of Seed to Feed, and is a volunteer at Starfish Project and Hugs of Elkhart County. He also works part time at Ron Martin Seed and Supply in Elkhart.

Kelly Tooker completed her Organics certification, is a Master Gardener, and a Master Composter/Recycler. She is focused on green living practices and provides resources for urban gardeners on How To “create habitat between the concrete slabs”. Kelly currently manages a 7,000 square foot lot in downtown Elkhart with apple & pear espalier, blueberries, strawberries, grape arbors, a hardy fig, hardy kiwi, herbs and vegetables in raised beds and vertical supports. She has worked in raised beds, rows and integrated urban beds.

Josh Steffen is the Horticulture and Facilities Manager at Wellfield. Josh grew up in Midland, Michigan, home to Dow Gardens. He attended Michigan State University, earning Bachelor of Science Degrees in both Horticulture and Botany. Josh went on to attend the University of Delaware and the Longwood Graduate Program, earning his Masters of Science in Public Horticulture. Prior to joining Wellfield Botanic Gardens in 2013, he worked at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. Josh is certified in Permaculture and is a passionate gardener who enjoys sharing his love of gardening and the environment with others.

For more information email or call (574)-266-2006 ext 105