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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​ 

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 


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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!



Check out this year's offerings below.  Some workshops fill early and are closed to registration. You are welcome to indicate on your registration if you'd like to be on the waitlist for a closed workshop. Workshop maximums are determined by the presenter and room capacity. We will not sell standing room in workshops and want to ensure every person who signs up will have a seat in order to provide a comfortable experience for both the participants and presenters. Have more questions? Check out the Back to Basics FAQs

Prefer to print your own copy of the brochure? Click on the image to the right to download a pdf.

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2024 Workshop Descriptions

Session 1 - 10:20-11:20

S1. Intro to Loon Watching & Loon-Friendly Lakes - Natasha Bartolotta, National Loon Center +, Maddi Nistler, MN GreenCorps/National Loon Center, Shannon Watters, Whitefish Area Property Owners Association, & Katelyn Bergstrom, MN DNR - Workshop Full

Learn how to start a loon monitoring program on your lake that will help protect loons, preserve water quality, & maintain the natural shoreline. We will share ways to contribute your loon sightings to state-wide surveys & global biodiversity projects like iNaturalist or eBird. Learn about best practices for building nesting platforms, guidelines for when to use rafts, & joining the Loon-Friendly Lake Registry Program.


S2. Canning 101 - DeAnn Caddy, University of Minnesota Master Gardener - Workshop Full

Participants will learn the differences between pressure canning & water bath canning, including equipment & recipe needs, as well as which foods work best for each method. This will be a "show & tell" style session for beginners.


S3. Regenerative Protein: The What, Why, & How of Buying Meat - Jim Chamberlin, Happy Dancing Turtle + & Anna Cates, University of Minnesota

- Workshop Full

What you choose as a protein source in your diet plays a role in your health & in your environmental footprint. Livestock raised

well serve as a biological driver of soil health & are a nutrient-dense food source. Learn what attributes to look for in how

livestock is raised & why that matters. Find out how to buy from local producers & work with a meat cutter to have it processed

to your liking.


S4. Yoga + Myofascial Release - Bryana Cook, Boreal Bliss Yoga Retreats - Workshop Full

Focus on tension relief, full body relaxation, & breathing easier through movement + myofascial release (self-massage techniques). Wear comfortable clothing you can move in & bring a yoga mat. A tennis ball will be provided for myofascial release. A limited number of mats will be available. There will be space to store your yoga mat throughout the day; inquire at check-in.


S5. Paint with Wool: A Spring Landscape - Esther Endicott, Serenity Now Yarn & Alpaca Shop + - Workshop Full

Come to learn & enjoy the process of needle felting. Make a beautiful spring landscape with a field & flowers (& maybe add a sheep or two). It's like painting with wool!


S6. Hydronics 101: In-Floor Heating - Ryan Hunt, HUG Hydronics + - Workshop Full

This presentation will give attendees an overview of in-floor heating & how it can be introduced into new building projects. We will

discuss planning, heater selection, start-up, prioritizing zones/configurations, thermostats, & maintenance.


S7. Planning a Sustainable & Productive Garden - Laura Mendoza Romero, Great Roots LLC - Workshop Full

Participants will learn about how to plan an efficient garden. We will talk about how to select the best location for a garden, as well as intensive & companion planting.

S8. Getting Started with Chickens - Amanda Montague, Bee’n Happy Farms & Dayle Shimek

Discuss the basics of keeping chickens, from preparing for baby chicks to keeping adult laying hens & meat birds. We will cover what to feed them, how to water them, their basic health & housing needs, & the essential equipment you will need for success.


S9. Getting Back to the Basics of Everyday Play - Peter Olson, WonderTrek Children’s Museum

WonderTrek is on a mission to bring back play every day. Childhood outcomes continue to indicate an alarming decrease in the

overall well-being of our nation’s children. That is why WonderTrek is leading efforts to rally our region around the vital role of

free-choice play in healthy development. In this interactive session, participants will experience the power of play firsthand,

learn about WonderTrek’s innovative approaches, & leave with practical tips on how to support free-choice play

in your family & community.


S10. Bark Medicine Making - Marina Povlitzki, Plant Magick + - Workshop Full

The beginning of the herbalists' calendar year is just around the corner, & soon it will be the perfect time to make bark medicine. Learn everything you need to know to make your own tinctures from medicinal trees. We will discuss identification, harvesting of material, tincturing, decanting, & storage. Additionally, we will get to know some local medicinal trees & their various applications. Prepare yourself for a fun season of making your own herbal tinctures, & start to stock your medicine cabinet up with helpful plant allies.


S11. It’s Real: Teens & Mental Health - Arlene Selander, Selander Coaching & Consulting +

This presentation covers topics such as what mental health is, how it is similar to & different from physical health, how to notice

the signs of someone needing help, tips & strategies for having caring conversations with someone you might be worried about,

examples of trustworthy resources, & much more.


Session 2 - 11:45-12:45


S12. Grassland 2.0: Well-Managed Pasture for Water Quality & Community Vitality - Anna Cates, University of Minnesota & John Strauser, University of Wisconsin

Grass on the landscape can be a powerful tool for building healthy soil, filtering clean water, & supporting profitable farms. We

will use a model to demonstrate how grass-based farm systems can change environmental outcomes like lake water quality &

biodiversity. We'll also talk about different kinds of pasture management & how they can alter both biological & economic outcomes.


S13. Taking Action Against Health-Harming Plastics - Jane Dow, Mankato Zero Waste & Beyond Plastics Greater Mankato Area +

Dive into what, why, & how plastics are harming not only us but the planet as well. Learn about legislative actions to address the problem, what you can do to help, and sustainable alternatives to plastics. Resources with further information will be provided.


S14. Soap Making Basics - Debby Flowers, Ole Lake Farm + - Workshop Full

This demonstration workshop will focus on general soap making essentials - safety equipment, basic tools, ingredients, techniques, & resources. Participants will leave with a small soap sample.


S15. Jumping Worms in Minnesota: What to Know About These Emerging Species - Laura Van Riper, Terrestrial Invasive Species Program Coordinator, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (Workshop updated: new title, description, & presenter on Zoom)

 - Workshop Canceled

Jumping worms are new to Minnesota. They eat mulch & strip vital nutrients from the topsoil. This makes it hard for plants to

grow & increases erosion. Learn about the impacts of jumping worms, how to identify jumping worms, known current distribution,

actions you can take & research & regulatory updates. 


S16. Thriving Through Winter with Ayurveda - Aprile Lack, Not Amy’s Farm - Workshop Full

This presentation will focus on Ayurvedic tips for thriving through winter - instead of just surviving! By adapting your diet &

lifestyle to each changing season, you can reduce the occurrence of seasonally induced imbalances, & gently guide your body back

into balance should the need arise. These tips will include things like ideal winter foods, foods to minimize, & winter daily routine.


S17. Is Stressful Stress Stressing You Out? - Michelle Oie, Life Purpose Coach

Relationships, busyness, & isolation can be stressful. Unwind in a fun, relaxed, judgment-free environment. Learn the 3 symptoms of burnout, 5 bitter blockages to slaying your stress, & 7 valuable tips to live a less stressful life. We will begin with a thoughtful talk & self-reflection worksheets & finish with a fun “stress-free craft” for you to take home. Stop letting stress control you. Learn your triggers, use the tips, & take back control.


S18. Boundary Waters 201 - Melissa Olson, Guiding Spirit Journeys +

Learn advanced aspects of preparing for & experiencing a backcountry canoe camping adventure from a BWCA Wilderness guide. 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.


S19. Intro to Wild Edible Mushroom Identification - Tanya Villano - Workshop Full

Foraging for wild mushrooms can be intimidating. This workshop will share some basic information to get you started, including

how to safely identify several edible mushrooms found in our area, where to find them, & how to harvest, process, & enjoy them.

We will also review rules for harvesting for personal use in Minnesota & the state laws regarding commercial harvesting as well

as helpful resources for future learning opportunities.


S20. Earthship Style Root Cellar Creation - Douglas Weiss, Balsam Moon Preserve + - Workshop Full

What do 280 old tires, custom-milled timbers, & earth drumming have in common? Learn the earthship method of root cellar

construction reusing old tires. The basics of design & construction will be shared. Additional information will be shared on the

first few months of the presenter’s usage regarding temperature/humidity data & vegetable storage.

Session 3 - 1:10-2:10

S21. Become an Inflation Reduction Act Ambassador! - Heidi Auel & Maren Butenhoff, Clean Energy Resource Teams +

At CERTs, we want to help you save energy & money with energy efficiency methods & renewable energy options. The Inflation

Reduction Act of 2022 will make it easier than ever to save, & we want to help you navigate the incentives. Learn more about the

Act & how to become an ambassador to spread the word so everyone can join in on the savings!


S22. Soil Health for Any Grower: Why We Do What We Do to Improve Soil Health - Jim Etzel, Earth Is Our Home Environmental Solutions +           - Workshop Full

Find out why major soil disturbance is bad, why chemicals are not needed, & what damage they do. We’ll also cover why mulching & diversity in plants & creatures are so important. If we know the why, the what & how become easier. Learn how foliar fertilizer products & mycorrhizal fungi inoculants can be used to benefit soil health.


S23. Self-Care & No-Cost Resources - Jode Freyholtz-London, Wellness in the Woods +

Wellness in the Woods offers no-cost peer support 24/7 in the State of Minnesota. Trained individuals offer support for any

concern or challenge that adults feel may be impacting them. There are no eligibility requirements for utilization. Self-care

during isolation & the importance of connection will be the focus.


S24. Happy Healthy Home - Christine Jones, Pure Soap Flake Company

This presentation will be eclectic & is all about natural & cost-effective ideas for keeping a Happy Healthy Home. Everyone will

go home with an ounce of the versatile & affordable Essential Oil of Orange for use as an air freshener, hand degreaser, or

label remover.


S25. Explore the Seasons! Part 1 - John Latimer & Charlie Mitchell, KAXE/KBXE Northern Community Radio

Join KAXE/KBXE’s staff phenologist John Latimer for a glance through the last 40 years of seasonal changes in Minnesota. John

will discuss the trends he’s seen from data collected in that time & discuss how studying phenology has changed his life &

inspired many students to engage with the natural world. We’ll also discuss the future of phenology at Northern Community

Radio & ask for feedback.

S26. Great Roots for a Healthy Shoreline - Laura Mendoza Romero, Great Roots LLC

This workshop will provide an overview of the multitude of benefits from diverse natural landscapes. Learn how designing a shoreline with deep-rooted native plants can do more than just look good!


S27. Indigenous Cooking - Sharon Nordrum - Workshop Full

This demonstration workshop will highlight several indigenous food items, featuring a discussion of them and how they are used in cooking. Participants will be able to ask questions and take home recipes.


S28. Understand Medicare A, B, C, D - Sharon Notch, UCare +

Join us for an educational session on the Basics of Medicare A, B, C D. Learn how to compare, understand, & evaluate Medicare options, as well as the difference between a Supplement and an Advantage Plan.


S29. Discover the Benefits of Restorative Yoga for Your Overworked Nervous System - Jennifer Smith, Nisswa Yoga - Workshop Full

Ever feel distracted, overwhelmed, or exhausted? The solution isn't to do more, but rather to do less. Restorative yoga uses props to support the body in positions of ease & teaches you how to slow down & find your inner silence. By activating your parasympathetic nervous system, restorative yoga lowers stress, improves concentration, enhances sleep quality, & increases resilience. The workshop will combine lecture/discussion & practice. All levels are welcome. Wear comfortable clothing you can move in & bring a yoga mat & a firm blanket. A limited number of mats will be available. There will be space to store your yoga mat & blanket throughout the day; inquire at check-in.

Session 4 - 2:35-3:35


S30. Dehydrating 101 - Sheila Boldt, Pine Haven Homestead - Workshop Full

Fruit roll-ups, tomato paste, cream of mushroom, sourdough – what do all of these have in common?! They can be sourced from dehydrated harvest or preserves! Explore the world of dehydrating your garden harvest or purchases & how to use it for everyday snacks, baking, soups & more. This interactive session covers a range of food preservation methods & healthy eating tips & tricks. Beginners to experts are encouraged to attend to share your own experiences or questions.


S31. Tomato, Tomahto: Let's Get it All Worked Out - Rachel Cobb, Brambling Rows Farm - Workshop Full

We will give a brief overview of a local market vegetable farm and then discuss all things tomato - from row prep, seed selection, transplanting, & maintenance, to preventing disease & more. We'll focus on getting the most flavor & yield from your tomatoes with the least amount of drama.


S32. Creative Journaling with Prompts - Martha Davidge - Workshop Full

Whether you journal regularly or are just starting to explore journaling, discover what creative writing can bring to your

experience. We will be using creative prompts & other tips, so bring your journal or notebook. There will be a short writing time

& time to share with others if you so choose.


S33. Nurturing the Spirit of Mindfulness - Amy Donnan Neppl, Language of the Heart, LLC + - Workshop Full

Following a brief overview of the science behind mindfulness & visualization, participants will move into an experiential workshop that allows them to 'map out' feeling patterns in their bodies. Mapping out & being aware of body-based patterns increases flexibility & problem solving! Participants will be given a code to download a free sample of visualizations.

S34. Healthcare as a Human Right: A System that Covers Everyone in Minnesota - Mark Friedman, Health Care for All Minnesota +

In many ways, the U.S. healthcare system does not make sense. Learn why U.S. healthcare costs twice as much per person

compared with other developed countries while leaving millions without access. Find out how proposed single-payer solutions

like the Minnesota Health Plan & Medicare for All would serve everyone while lowering costs & the prospects for passing the



S35. Forage & Forest for Egg Layers - Chris Gamer, Chengwatana Community Farm - Workshop Canceled

There are many benefits to raising chickens in their natural habitat - under a tree canopy! Learn how establishing perennial

forage like amaranth, lamb’s quarters, etc. & woody cover crops like hazelnuts, hawthorns, & mulberry can reduce cost &

increase profitability for egg-laying chickens in stationary & mobile coops.


S36. Closed-Loop Zero Waste Living - April Hepokoski + - Workshop Full

Living Zero Waste is more than following the 3 R's: reduce, reuse, recycle. The presenter will share the 7 R's of her adapted lifestyle, called Closed-Loop Zero Waste, which helps 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.


S37. Explore the Seasons! Part 2 - John Latimer & Charlie Mitchell, KAXE/KBXE Northern Community Radio

Join KAXE/KBXE’s staff phenologist John Latimer for a stroll outside! We’ll be looking for seasonal changes & notable events

happening outdoors. Dress for the weather & expect to do plenty of standing & looking in addition to walking.


S38. Watershed-Based Conservation - Elizabeth Mboutchom & Annie Knight, Northern Waters Land Trust +

This workshop will cover the basics of what a watershed is and why they serve as good boundaries for conservation work. Learn

about efforts to establish healthy watersheds, the various roles individuals can play in watershed-based conservation,

& what you can do.


S39. Put a Little Spring in Your Step! - Joseph Quade, Great Lake Therapies - Workshop Full

In this workshop, learn simple techniques from a seasoned Physical Therapist to restore & maintain muscle & joint health, improve bone density & strength, & balance your energy.


S40. Intro to Healing Touch & The Human Biofield (Previously titled Intro to Reading the Body) - Stacey Quade, Energy for Life Connection              - Workshop Full

Learn basic information about the field of energetic frequency that everything is made out of & your personal biofield. Learn how Healing Touch & other Energy Based Therapies help to keep us balanced & healthy. Have fun while you practice sensing the energy fields of yourself & others.

Session 5 - 4:00-5:00


S41. Everyday Spirituality: Loved Ones, Rituals, & Sacred Spaces - Laura Baum-Parr

The deeper meaning of our lives is revealed when we understand that our daily routines & activities can be a doorway to uncovering what is truly important in life. The focus of this workshop is discovering the sacred spaces in our living & working areas, identifying possessions & persons who reveal authentic love to us, & exploring rituals & traditions that ground us & provide meaning in our lives. This is an interactive workshop; participants will be encouraged to reflect upon aspects of their lives & engage in small group discussions.


S42. The Takedown & Resurgence of Herbalism in the US - Pam Broekemeier, theHERBAL Cache + - Workshop Full

Discover the origins of herbalism, including how & why it came about. Learn what the Flexner report was, who wrote it, and how it affected herbalism & natural medicine in the US. Discuss how herbalism is making a comeback & what we can do to continue to support herbalism by trying to set a balance with modern medicine.


S43. Making Artisan Sourdough Bread - Steven Dahlberg - Workshop Full

This workshop will focus on the process of making sourdough. Each participant will get their own starter going & mix up a sourdough loaf to take home & bake. As a class, we will go through the baking steps with a loaf that was prepared prior to the workshop.


S44. Building Financial Resilience: Strategies to Navigate the Unexpected - Lisa Haberman

We will discuss strategies to help you develop a higher level of financial resiliency to manage the difficulties associated with

many of life's unexpected events. We will review simple, yet effective, short-term & long-term strategies you can use to mentally

& financially deal with unexpected changes in income & expenses. We'll also talk about basic retirement topics, including how to

understand & maximize contributions to an employer 401(k) plan.


S45. Solar for Less: Going Green with New Incentives - John Hageman, Wolf Track Energy - Workshop Full

There is an abundance of new incentives for installing solar systems. We will discuss the ins & outs of tax credits, grants, & other programs that make solar more affordable than ever for homeowners, business leaders, non-profits & government agencies.


S46. Beekeeping 101 - Daniel Harrel, Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers Association

So you’d like to try beekeeping? Come learn about bees, what it takes to raise them, & the benefits of this hobby for yourself, the

environment, & your morning toast! We’ll talk about bee biology, what equipment is required & where to get it, the time demands,

& both the challenges & joys this hobby offers.

S47. Intro to Blacksmithing Volume 2: Unfinished Business - Doug LaBorde, Signature Blacksmithing LLC +

Continuing to build on knowledge from last year's workshop, this class will cover how to get set up with tools & supplies at a reasonable price, metallurgy, how to utilize junkyard steel, & options for metal finishes. The presenter will demonstrate a variety of forging techniques like drawing out, upsetting, bending, punching, & splitting to help get you started.


S48. Holistic Wellness: Using the 8 Dimensions of Wellness to Live Your Best Life - Nicki Linsten-Lodge, Pine River Backus Family Center

 - Workshop Full

During our hour together, we will get an opportunity to focus, with intention, on ourselves. Gain a solid understanding of the 8

dimensions, which include: physical, intellectual, emotional, financial, social, spiritual, environmental, & occupational wellness.

We will also spend time reflecting on the balance, strength, & needs of our dimensions to identify goals for moving forward in

living our best life.


S49. Protecting the Water Underfoot: The Hidden Dangers to MN Aquifers - Emma Needham, Jami Gaither, & Bee Kakac, Waadookawaad Amikwag +

In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, groundwater is often taken for granted. Minnesota groundwater, or aquifers, faces serious threats,

including rupture & contamination. Learn about how severe damage was done to aquifers in MN & what is being done to fix them.

Find out how to protect both the surface & groundwater near your home & in greater MN.


S50. Saving Open Pollinated Seeds in the North - Zachary Paige, North Circle Seeds +

In this seed saving 101 class, we will discuss various aspects of seed saving including breeding techniques of common vegetable varieties, as well as tips & tricks for success!


S51. Healing with Hijama: The Ancient Art of Cupping Therapy - Theresa Richter

Learn the fascinating origins of Hijama, its cultural significance, & rediscover its relevance in our modern lives. Explore the

holistic benefits, from alleviating physical ailments to promoting mental & emotional wellness. Understand how this ancient

practice can contribute to your overall well-being. Engage in discussions about common misconceptions & address your queries.

Separate fact from fiction as we demystify this traditional healing art.

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