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Tropical Leaves
Back to Basics

Workshop Participants

Saturday, February 17, 2024
Pine River-Backus School, Pine River, MN

Full Day of Fun​ *Registration opens January 5, 2024

Back to Basics is a full day event where you can learn from presenters, visit and learn from vendors/exhibitors, shop for local goods, take advantage of networking opportunities, socialize with friends, and enter to win one of many door prizes! Can't join us for the whole day? No problem! We have Ala Carte registration for those who would like to attend for part of the day. 

​Participation Fees

  • Vendor Area & Keynote: FREE

  • Full Day Adult - $35 (includes 4 workshops + lunch OR 5 workshops)

  • Full Day Senior (60+) or Student - $30 (includes 4 workshops + lunch OR 5 workshops)

  • Ala Carte - $8/Workshop, $12/Lunch 


2024 B2B Schedule_edited.jpg


Word of mouth continues to be the way most people hear about Back to Basics! Refer a friend or family member to the event who has never attended and get a chance to win one of two great prizes! One prize will be awarded to a referrer and one will be awarded to a referee. Just make sure that they put your name in the "referred by" box on registration, and you'll both be entered to win!


Workshop descriptions will be available at the end of November. In the meantime, check out last year's offerings below. Registration will open at the beginning of January.

Last Year's Workshop Descriptions

Single Session 1 10:15-11:15


S1. Seeking Peace in Stressful Times: Compassion as a Way of Life - Laura Baum-Parr

Being a compassionate presence in life requires that we treat ourselves with compassion. This workshop will define compassion & break open its four seeds: mindfulness, nonjudgment, nonviolence, & forgiveness. This is an interactive workshop in which participants will reflect upon various aspects of life, explore a variety of strategies, & engage in conversation with other participants.


S2. Soil Health for All Applications - Jim Etzel, Earth Is Our Home Environmental Solutions WORKSHOP FULL - Registration Closed

This natural gardening/farming presentation will help people understand the why of what they are doing when growing plants. We’ll discuss a no-till, no-chemical approach that emphasizes soil & plant health, working with the weeds for diversity, & the critical role mycorrhizal fungi play in the soil community.


S3. Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) - Dana Gutzmann, Cass County AIS Program 

We'll look at some of the ways AIS impact issues outside of lake ecology such as property values, taxes, & tourism. We'll dig into

the numerous pathways that AIS can spread & learn important prevention techniques whether you are an avid angler, a

shoreland property owner, or a parent with a pet that needs a different home. Starry stonewort is an invasive species that we'll

shine the spotlight on for early detection. We'll learn some basic aquatic identification so that you can help be a part of the solution with early detection in the waters that you love.


S4. Living Zero Waste for a More Sustainable World - April Hepokoski, Zero Waste Duluth +  WORKSHOP FULL - Registration Closed

Living Zero Waste is more than following the 3 Rs: Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle. In this class, April Hepokoski shares the 7 Rs of her adapted lifestyle, which she calls Closed-Loop Zero Waste, that help her live a sustainable, low-waste life that is more aligned with nature. You will walk away inspired with many simple tricks & tips to apply to your life right away!

S5. What to Do With Oxygen Bleach - Christine Jones, Pure Soap Flake Company

Learn all about oxygen bleach & how to use it for natural cleaning & laundry. Oxygen bleach is biodegradable, color-fast, & so

much more! Everyone will go home with some to try.

S6. Essential Oils Basics - Halli Knutson, Stone Woman Herbals +

Come learn the basics about essential oils, including the different ways essential oils can be used, essential oil safety, & make

an essential oil blend with us!

S7. YOU Know Best: Open Sharing Gardening Wisdom - Barb Mann, Balsam Moon Preserve + & Louise Johnson, Grampa G’s +

Do you have a passion for "clean" gardening? Do you always love talking about gardening? Come share your wisdom with like-minded gardeners. We’ll aim to cover a bit about soil prep, favorite veggies tips, and harvesting, but topics will be somewhat determined by participants submitting questions in advance. Come with your own tidbits of gardening wisdom to share.


S8. Getting Started With Bees - Tara Stang, Mann Lake Bee & Ag Supply +  WORKSHOP FULL - Registration Closed

Learn the very basics of keeping honeybees, from preparing for your hive to caring for your bees. This session will provide an

introduction on what to feed them, how to water them, their basic health & care needs, & the essential equipment items you’ll

need for success.

S9. Wellness Workshop - Darla Swanson, Organized Mind + & Jillian Means, By Any Means Wellness & Yoga WORKSHOP FULL - Registration Closed

This workshop includes yoga breathing mechanics & exercises with Darla that can be used at home or work to reduce stress. After that, there will be a restorative yoga practice with Jillian that will include ideas for stretching at home or at a work desk. Participants should bring a yoga mat, if able. Some mats will be available for use. There will be space available to store your yoga mat throughout the day, inquire at check-in.

Single Session 2 11:40-12:40

S10. Add Some Clean Energy to Your Life! - Melissa Birch, Clean Energy Resource Teams +

Join the Clean Energy Resource Teams for a discussion of energy efficiency, solar for your home, & electric vehicles to get you where you need to go. Learn about key steps you can take plus the available programs & incentives to help pay for them.


S11. Yoga Nidra: Sleep with Trace Awareness - Treff Brock, Guiding Elements Yoga WORKSHOP FULL - Registration Closed

Yoga Nidra is a form of deep meditation guided by an instructor. The body is meant to lie completely still without any distractions

so that the senses withdraw, the mind & body relax completely, & the mind can be guided into what is called the “hypnagogic

state,” where true transformation can occur. This is our waking/dreaming state. Participants should bring a yoga mat, if able.

Some mats will be available for use. There will be space available to store your yoga mat throughout the day, inquire at check-in.


S12. Grassland 2.0: A Community Vision for Agriculture - Jim Chamberlin, Happy Dancing Turtle +

The Pine River Watershed is one of five regional Grassland 2.0 Learning Hubs in the Midwest. We will explore how grazing can improve farm productivity & enhance ecological services, such as wildlife habitat & carbon sequestration. The basic principles of a well-managed grazing system will be covered, & you'll learn how to get involved in Grassland 2.0, helping to develop a Community Vision for agriculture in our region.


S13. The Cause & Solution for Plastic Pollution - Jane Dow, Mankato Zero Waste +

What are plastics doing to us & the planet? Discover how plastics are harming us & contributing to climate change as well as what actions we can take on a personal & legislative level to address plastic pollution.


S14. Preparing for the Aging Storm - Theresa Eclov & Larellyn Micheau, Faith in Action for Cass County +

In Minnesota, storm season is always around the corner & unexpected things happen. We try to plan ahead, to be like the Boy Scouts, “Be Prepared.” The same goes for our health as we age – preparing can make an emergency less stressful for everyone. Learn about some basic tools to have in place, who you can call upon, & how to be prepared for emergencies so you can better cope with crises & make decisions as we get older.


S15. DIY Non-toxic Cleaners for Your Home - Becky Hoffman, Just B Essential WORKSHOP FULL - Registration Closed

Learn how to make products that you can use in the laundry, kitchen, bath, & throughout the house that are safe & effective. We

will be using common household items such as baking soda in the making of the cleaning products as well as a plant-based

concentrated cleaner.


S16. Joyful Juicing - Jami Nelson, Just Juice

During this workshop, guests will learn about the wide variety of health benefits that can be achieved when consuming fruits & vegetables in their raw form. We will learn about consuming seasonally available produce, organic vs. conventional produce, & smoothies vs. juices plus the health benefits of both. We will also discuss how much & when to consume juice to achieve maximum results & benefits of these powerhouse nature-made beverages.


S17. Groundwater & Your Well in an Uncertain Future - Stacy Zeigler, Hydrologist

This workshop will include basic groundwater information relevant to the area & discuss the changes to be aware of as we face future water challenges impacted by climate change. Participants will see a physical aquifer model with a pumping simulation in action.

Single Session 3 1:00-2:00

S18. Clean Energy for Your Farm or Business - Melissa Birch, Clean Energy Resource Teams +

Clean energy can help make your farm or business operations more sustainable - financially & environmentally! Join Clean Energy Resource Teams to learn about how you can use energy efficiency & solar to help reduce your costs, as well as the programs & incentives that can help pay to get them installed.


S19. Roundtable Talk: Agriculture & Food Systems in the Face of Severe Disruption - Kathy Draeger, University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships

This session invites farmers & eaters for a lively conversation about the future of farming & food systems in the face of potential

disruption. Recent disruptions include the pandemic, war in Ukraine, supply chains, & extreme weather. Minnesota has assets

like good soil, rainfed agriculture, & institutions that support resilience in the face of disruptions. We’ll discuss ideas, concerns,

and scenarios for agriculture, farming, and food systems in the face of an uncertain future.


S20. Lead & Loons: A Toxic Relationship - Claire Gustafson, MPCA - Get the Lead Out

Did you know that lead fishing tackle kills an estimated 20-25% of common loons? Join staff from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Get the Lead Out program for an interactive presentation to learn more about the issue of lead & loons, alternatives to lead fishing tackle, & what you can do in your community to protect Minnesota's loons. Samples will be provided.


S21. What's This Sound Bath Thing?- Cynthia Horbach, CynthiaRose Sound Art +

This introduction to a vibrational sound bath experience will include a demonstration & information on personal or group

relaxation. Himalayan singing bowls & a crystal bowl will be utilized in this sound therapy session.

S22. Energy Appreciation - Ivan Idso

Everything we do requires energy – our homes, our food, our travel, etc. We take this energy for granted, but as resources

deplete, it will be beneficial to understand & appreciate it more. In this presentation, we'll watch & discuss 3 short videos from

Dr. Nathan Hagens & the Institute for the Study of Energy & Our Future. These videos describe where our energy comes from,

how its use has grown exponentially, & the implications of a future with less energy.


S23. Intro to Wild Mushrooms - Matthew Stahlmann-Mosher, Matt’s Mushrooms & More + WORKSHOP FULL - Registration Closed

In this introduction to wild mushrooms, learn the identifying characteristics of the beginner wild mushrooms. The class will cover morels, chicken of the woods, chanterelles, hen of the woods, & others.


S24. Getting Started with Chickens - Tara Stang, Stromberg’s Chicks & Game Birds WORKSHOP FULL - Registration Closed

In this workshop, we will discuss the very basics of keeping chickens, from preparing for baby chicks to keeping adult laying

hens & meat birds. This session will provide an introduction on what to feed them, how to water them, their basic health &

housing needs, & the essential equipment items you’ll need for success.


S25. Creative Nature Writing & Ecotherapy - Darla Swanson, Darla Mae Writing

Join Darla Swanson, a nature writer & certified Ecotherapeutic Nature Guide, for nature therapy through connection & creativity. Learn the value of biophilia (the love of living things) & how nature provides therapeutic elements that can improve physical & mental health. Then, learn the secret of descriptive nature writing by using Darla’s favorite tool, Live Writing.

Single Session 4 2:20-3:20

S26. Making Wines, Meads, Hard Ciders, & Cordials - Steven Dahlberg WORKSHOP FULL - Registration Closed

In this workshop, we will go over the principles of making “adult beverages” from fruit, herbs, & honey, or other minimally processed sugars. Although there has probably always been a recreational aspect to the production & use of these, their primary role in traditional cultures seems to be the preservation of nutrients & as medicinals, which is the primary focus of the presentation. Topics include an overview of the necessary equipment, basic recipes, key components of each recipe & the role each plays in the final product, & plenty of “school of hard knocks” advice, leaving you with enough information for you to start experimenting.


S27. Solar - Is It Right for Me? - Simon Eddy & Jodi Evenson, Real Solar, LLC  WORKSHOP FULL - Registration Closed

This workshop will go through the process of assessing a property for solar, including what makes a good site, roof vs. ground

mount, how net metering works, off-grid vs. grid-tied, what goes into the cost of solar, & what is available for assistance in

paying for solar. We will also touch on additional benefits for businesses & nonprofits/churches.


S28. Ask a Death Doula - Tanya Hanson +

Do you find yourself trying to navigate the care of a sick or elderly loved one? Are you nervous to even think about the end of life? Are conversations about what the future might bring nerve-wracking? This workshop will cover tips on caring for your loved one, the signs of approaching death, & simple ways to be present. Bring all of your questions.


S29. A Chat About Cannabis - Julie Matvick, The Healing Studio at KISS Farm WORKSHOP FULL - Registration Closed

This workshop will provide an opportunity to chat about different aspects of the cannabis plant & how it can help us in our everyday lives, specifically for well-being in a holistic approach.


S30. Apple Pests in North Central Minnesota - Thaddeus McCamant, Central Lakes College

Apples are difficult to grow in Zone 3 areas of Minnesota, but there is one major benefit: there are very few pests. In this part of

the state, each orchard has a different combination of pests, & one of the major pests is not in any identification guides. I will

show how to identify the damage from each pest & give suggestions on controlling them.


S31. Great Roots for a Healthy Shoreline - Laura Mendoza, Great Roots

We will provide an overview showing the value of diverse natural lakescapes & how designing a shoreline with deep-rooted native plants can do more than just look good.


S32. Water Protector 101 - Emma Needham +, & Waadookawaad Amikwag

The Land of 10,000 Lakes is in trouble. The water in Mni Sota Makoce (Land of Sky Blue Waters) is threatened by many

corporations & pollutants. Native Peoples in Minnesota & beyond are "Water Protectors" fighting to stop pipelines, mines,

pollution, & wastefulness. But protecting Minnesota's water is not just the responsibility of Indigenous people. Join an

Indigenous Water Protector for an overview of the problems plaguing Mni Sota's water. Learn what you can do to help protect the

water while gathering information to find an organization you might want to be a part of!


S33. Boundary Waters 101 - Melissa Olson, Guiding Spirit Journeys +

Join a BWCA Wilderness guide to learn the aspects of preparing for & experiencing a backcountry canoe camping adventure, with emphasis on the BWCA Wilderness. Topics covered include history, route planning, points of interest, gear & equipment, cooking & menu options, site selection, & safety. We'll touch on rules & regulations, portaging etiquette, & outdoor ethics that will foster a stewardship of the environment & preservation of wilderness spaces for generations to come.

Single Session 5 3:45-4:45

S34. Landscaping With Minnesota Native Trees & Shrubs - Geoffrey Davidge, Master Naturalist  WORKSHOP FULL - Registration

Closed  In this class, we’ll cover many possibilities available from our state’s native trees & shrubs, helping you choose plants that

are both appealing & well adapted to our climate & soils, & more!


S35. Green Burial & Alternative Death Rituals - Tanya Hanson +

Learn about the environmental effects of conventional burial & cremation. Explore alternatives including green burial along with a variety of other uncommon options. Consider the various opportunities to memorialize your loved ones or for your own post-death plans.


S36. Intro to Blacksmithing - Doug LaBorde, Signature Blacksmithing LLC +

This class will provide an overview of blacksmithing for those interested in getting into it or just learning about it. We will talk a little about the history of blacksmithing, the tools & equipment needed, & metallurgy - the types of metal, their uses & heat treating. We will also discuss finishes for metals (paint, wax, etc...) & how to get set up on the cheap. Hammer swing

mechanics will be demonstrated along with the basic forging operations like drawing out, upsetting, bending, punching, & splitting. A handout with a list of suppliers & blacksmithing groups will be available.


S37. What is Ayurveda? - Aprile Lack LMT, AHC, RYT, hĕlth & Not Amy's Farm  WORKSHOP FULL - Registration Closed

Ayurveda is an ancient science with a holistic approach to restoring & maintaining a healthy balance between the mind, body, &

soul. This practical, introductory workshop will cover a brief history of Ayurveda, the five elements & our interconnectedness

with nature, an introduction to daily & seasonal routines, Dosha (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) characteristics, & basic Ayurvedic diet &

lifestyle guidelines.


S38. Finding YOU - Julie Matvick, The Healing Studio at KISS Farm, & Susan Shepard

We will provide an opportunity to sift & sort through who you are in order to create who you want to be in a purposeful life. Participants can expect a presentation of helpful information as well as discussion & support.


S39. Victory Gardens - Tanya Miller

Come learn about how & why to grow, harvest, & preserve your own food. Learn how to live on a shoestring budget & eat like a king! It is easy, healthy, & tasty, too!


S40. Learn About PFAS: 'Forever Chemicals' - Lori Olinger, Sierra Club - North Star Chapter +

PFAS are a group of man-made organic chemicals, known as ‘forever chemicals.’ They are found everywhere in the environment, are highly persistent, toxic, & widely used in consumer products. PFAS are turning up at wastewater treatment plants, in biosolids, & in leachate from landfills. Learn about the impact of PFAS on the environment & our health, as well as what is being done in Minnesota to address the contamination.


S41. Explore Winter Woods: Snowshoe Walk with a Master Naturalist - Deanne Trottier, Master Naturalist & Pequot Lakes Elementary Environmental STEM Teacher

Taking winter walks in the woods has proven benefits for us including lifting our mood, providing natural sunlight, activating our

immune system, boosting energy, breathing fresh air, reducing stress, & exercise. In addition, exploring new spaces boosts our

sense of wonder & inquiry. Take a guided winter snowshoe hike into the Pine River-Backus School Forest. Explore the woods &

look for signs of wildlife as well as how plants survive our Minnesota winters. Dress in layers, with long socks & snow boots. Snowshoes will be provided or bring your own.

Double Session 1 10:15-12:40

D1. Phenology in the Classroom & on the Radio- Sarah Mitchell & John Latimer, KAXE Northern Community Radio

We are all connected to the seasons in one way or another. Sarah celebrates spring wildflowers, watches loons in summer, admires autumn colors, & skis in winter. Phenologists like John watch for more subtle changes: the emergence of Compton tortoiseshell butterflies, the flowering of the Canada goldenrod, the last sighting of a blue heron, & the first sighting of a snowy owl. 2023 marks the 40th year of Phenology in the Classroom, John's popular program featuring the voices of local residents & K-12 students. This workshop will teach you about recording phenological observations, compiling reports, & connecting with local schools or environmental organizations. Be prepared to go outside for a brief period of time.


D2. Make the Most Out of Your Garden - Laura Mendoza, Great Roots

Participants will learn about how to plan an efficient garden, from composting to intensive planting techniques. During the class, each participant will plan their own garden, based on their goals & what they have learned.


D3. Naloxone & Overdose Prevention  - Arlene Selander, Selander Coaching & Consulting

In this training, participants will learn how to recognize an overdose & what steps to take. Participation includes a Naloxone kit

for all participants & a certificate of completion. This training is appropriate for ages 13 years & older.

Double Session 2 2:20-4:45

D4. Becoming Stewards of the Loons & Lakes - Natasha Bartolotta, National Loon Center (NLC) + & Shannon Watters,
Whitefish Area Property Owner's Association (WAPOA)

In the Land of 10,000 Lakes & 12,000 Loons, the NLC & WAPOA are working together to protect our state bird & the waters it

inhabits. In this session, the NLC will speak on common loon biology & the current threats this iconic species faces, many of which

are tied to human actions. We'll share the steps we can take as a community to share the lakes with loons. WAPOA will then lead

us through activities on water quality, water testing, & shoreline restoration. This workshop is ideal for lake homeowners, cabin goers, outdoor recreators, & all-around loon enthusiasts.


D5. Changing the Narrative on Mental Health & Suicide - Destiny Brown, Northern Pines Mental Health Center
WORKSHOP FULL - Registration C

Talking about mental health & suicide can be an uncomfortable & uncertain topic that brings up different feelings, beliefs, & attitudes for everyone. Changing the Narrative is an interactive conversation that empowers participants to change perceptions of mental health towards hope & resilience. The goal is to know that help is available, suicide can be preventable, & healing is possible. The training covers the eight dimensions of wellness, group discussion about mental health, why it matters & how to talk about it, as well as briefly touching on suicide prevention & available resources.


D6. Adaptive Grazing - Planning for Success - Jim Chamberlin, Happy Dancing Turtle + & Tom Gervais, Natural Resources Conservation

Services +

Livestock are the biological drivers of natural soil fertility. From poultry to cattle, this workshop will go in-depth on adaptive grazing principles & techniques that build soil health. The second half of the workshop will focus on developing your grazing plan & tools to measure success. Applicable from one to one thousand acres. Participants should bring a laptop or provide a legal description of the property prior to the event.

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