11th Annual Natural Learning Design Institute

Wednesday, 2 October 2013 - Friday, 4 October 2013

All About Food: Designing, Gardening, and Eating

The joy of nurturing a plant that bears fruit from a small seed or gathering ripe, sweet berries for a snack is found in the edible landscape. At the 11th Annual Design Institute, we discovered new approaches and shared our insights on creating environments and programs that contribute to healthy nutrition and a love of growing food. 

The 11th Annual Design Institute focused on the production of food in children's outdoor learning environments. The design of vegetable gardens in early childhood outdoor environment offers multiple opportunities for children to understand the food cycle and to build the foundation for a lifetime of nutritious habits. Activities ranging from sensory exploration to science learning can always be found in the edible garden.

This event has passed.  Information about the 12th Annual Design Institute will be available soon.

Click here to see the event program.


View Presentations by Clicking on Image


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Cildren Eat What they Like: Shaping Child Eating Preferences and Food Acceptance
Myles Faith, PhD, Associate Professor, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

Shifting Our Food Lexicon: Syncing Thoughts, Words, and Actions in Early Childhood Food Education
Jill Colella Bloomfield
MA, Cooking Educator and Author, Grow It, Cook It and The Jewish Festivals Cookbook for Kids (DK Publishing) and publisher of Ingredient: A Magazine for Kids Curious About Food 

Introduction to Shape NC Showcase
Nilda Cosco, PhD, Director of Programs, Natural Learning Initiative

Can We Do It? Outdoor Learning Environments Rules and Regulations
Linda Hestenes, 
PhD, Associate Professor and Co-Director Birth through Kindergarten Programs, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, UNC-Greensboro
Nicole Wyrick McCaskill, Outreach Trainer, NC Rated License Assessment

Farm to Preschool
Emily Jackson,
Program Director, Growing Minds Farm to School, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project


View Presentations by Clicking on Image

Friday, October 4, 2013

Welcome to Day Two and Reflections on Day One
Robin Moore
Dipl.Arch; MCP, Hon.ASLA, Director, Natural Learning Initiative and Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, College of Design, NC State University

Your Don't Have Space - Never Mind!
Jeana Myers,
PhD, Horticulture Extension Agent, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Wake County Center

Food for the Thought: Create Food for Plants Via Vermicomposting
Rhonda Sherman
, MA, Extension Solid Waste Specialist, Biological & Agricultural Engineering, NC State University


Training Cooks and Connecting with Gardens - Healthy Futures
Mary Moorachian
, PhD, Professor, College of Culinary Arts, Johnson and Wales University, Charlotte, NC 


Participants from around the state of North Carolina, and across the country and globe, will have an opportunity to participate in hands on, outdoor sessions.

Registration is Closed

Registration Fee: $250
Students & NC Early Childhood Professionals*: $150
Group rates for groups of 5 or more available - contact Eli Valsing, 919-515-8345 for rates.
Registration fee includes: two and a half day Institute with presentations, discussions, interactive outdoor activities, continental breakfast, lunch, and coffee breaks.

The event location:
NC Botanical Garden, ‎ in the Reeves Auditorium, Building A.
100 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27517
(919) 962-0522


1001 South Hamilton Road. Chapel Hill, NC 27517
Phone: (919) 932-7772


*NC Early Childhood Professionals include formal (childcare, schools, NC Pre-K, Headstart, etc.) and informal settings (including zoos, botanical gardens, community gardens, nature centers, aquariams, hospitals, parks and recreation, etc).

Click here to see information about previous Natural Learning Design Institutes

Special Thanks to our sponsors for their generous support of the Design Institute.

11th Annual Design Institute Sponsors



NC Botanical Garden
in the Reeves Auditorium, Building A.
100 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27517
(919) 962-0522


11th Annual Design Program Document.pdf4.22 MB