Donna Balzer

Gardening and Horticulture Expert

Keynote speaker Donna Balzer, has an Agriculture degree from the University of Alberta with a specialty in Horticulture and a passion to help gardeners grow. She is a freelance garden consultant, author, speaker and journalist for print media, radio and television. Donna co-hosted award winning, internationally broadcast, “Bugs & Blooms” on HGTV, answers garden questions on CBC radio, and is a regular columnist for the Calgary Herald.

Donna Balzer has received several awards for her media and horticulture career:

  • 2012 Mayor’s Urban Design Award for her horticulture work on the historical garden Central Memorial Park in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • 2002 Golden Globe Silver award for her on-air hosting role with Bugs & Blooms television show.
  • 2001 Carlton R. Worth Award for  her book, The Prairie Rock Garden from the North American Rock Garden Society

Gardening is Donna’s career, but it is also her passion, her hobby, and her life. And why not? Gardening lowers stress levels, boosts your health, and matters to our long-term sustainability. No matter what medium Donna delivers her message, she makes things relevant and simple, so that people want to get involved in gardening, or to improve their existing skills. Donna Balzer’s love for gardening fills the room when she delivers important messages about growing food. Her presentations are eye opening for her audiences, as she takes the complicated and makes it easy to digest.

Event planners are thrilled at their participants’ reactions to Donna Balzer’s presentations. As she demonstrates how to make gardens more fun and safe for the environment, there is always a bigger life lesson revealed. People get excited and have a good time through Donna’s ability to provide practical advice in a humourous and entertaining way.

Previously the Horticulturist at The Calgary Zoo Botanical Garden and Instructor of Horticulture at Olds College, Donna Blazer now advises on cultural landscapes, historic gardens and edible landscapes. Her most recent book No Guff Vegetable Gardening (March 2011) is written with co-author Steven Biggs, also a distinguished member of the Speakers Bureau of Canada. Donna has recently moved to Vancouver Island where she has built a really big greenhouse for testing and experimenting new sustainable gardening concepts in food production.


Topic Presentations

Changing roles from student to mother to Horticulturist to College Instructor to Freelancer with so many exciting opportunities like International television host, seasonal radio guest and book author tucked in between  takes flexibility.  The key to happiness in my ever-changing life is flexibility. When I feel myself freeze or tighten I look for ways to be flexible.

As my son and his wife say to me about sharing hours at work vrs hours of childcare:  “We both know which job is harder. “Mothering” always takes more energy and effort than working full time as a professional.”

In my own career it took perseverance to move a shy introvert like me from young mom into the limelight of radio and television.  And each step took me closer to mental peace of mind and clarity of thought in my final frontier: Uban Farmer.

Working alone as a mom or self-employed Horticulture Consultant didn’t prepare me for the teamwork I needed to work in television.  From finding and developing stories to making them clearly understood by an international audience took teamwork. So imagine my surprised when I discovered that the soil and plants I grow as well as the forests around us also depend on dedicated teamwork.Connec

Without the connections of the insects and flowers, the plants and fungi or the people visitng my farm there is no real success.  We all need to connect and it is those connections that bring us success.

Being outdoors in nature helps us breathe, relax and  stay healthy in mind and spirit. Forced to weed or lucky enough to cultivate a garden gives amazing joy. Whether it is my daughter’s 60 lbs of green tomatoes  picked before their time because winter threatens or my own first spring salad of strawberries and spinach, the garden yields rewards beyond belief and they aren’t all about sustenance.

After a lifetime of interesting and challenging choices, I have built a community around my love of gardening both online and in person. A new neighbour walks by and tells my husband she loves how functional our garden is. Another walker passes by and tells me he always loves seeing what we are growing because it makes him smile.

The choices you’ve made in life or community bring clarity to your beliefs and wisdom. The saying “whatever you are, be a good one” really inspires me. What inspires you?

Discover gardening through good news garden stories and learn how easy it is to change your game plan by growing one thing well. If you have a day, grow a sprout; if you have a week, grow a micro green; if you have a month, grow a radish. Whatever you grow, make it a good one.

In this talk you will:

  • Discover a simple approach to get started with greens and grow from there.

  • Learn age doesn't matter when it comes to gardening. If there is a will there is a way.

  • Find the inspiration to get growing and change your world today.

Taking the lead from best selling, richly illustrated No Guff Vegetable Gardening, Donna will speak about new ideas in the garden plus old garden ideas worth recycling! This talk will include soils, fertilizers, trends and new technologies that will boost your garden success meter. In really big news, it’s all 100% organic. Don’t delay, dig in today.

Five tips to grow a better life. Growing a better garden and creating a perfect life are like hugs and kisses – they just go together. If your garden and you are limited to doing one thing, you must build better soil. But if you can do five things, you can build soil, add garden covers, plant vertical and pop-up gardens, juggle planting dates to stagger harvest and start saving the world one honeybee at a time. Get inspired to grow more today.

Cultivate more food in vertical gardens. Multiply your yields faster than breeding bunnies without expanding your space. Let food spill over your patio, climb up your wall, or push into that skinny patch between wall and fence.  Growing more food more efficiently by growing vertically lets you raise more edibles in a smaller space than you thought possible. Tips, techniques and hand-outs guarantee great success this season.

Healthy soils build happy gardeners. Keen gardeners know their soils impact everything they do in their yards from establishing trees to growing pest-free crops. Discover the benefits of different soils and their components. How do changing conditions in soils change the health of your food and your personal happiness? What is the role of mushrooms and how can we employ them to make our gardens a bigger success?

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Victoria, British Columbia

No Guff Vegetable Gardening

YOU KNOW THE WAY so many garden texts begin: A Latin name, then some historical notes about civilizations that grew the vegetable. And when you’ve yawned your way through all that…you get bombarded with prescriptive instructions laced with exact time frames, temperatures, dates, and spacing. You must, you must, you must…You get the advice of TWO experts—and our points of view are not always the same. Look for “He Says” and “She Says” throughout the book. You get the professional insights of horticulturists. We make sense of products and trends and give you thoughtful opinions. We’re more than gardeners and horticulturists—we’re professional communicators. So we know how to dish up gardening success in a way that’s worthwhile reading.

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