About our Speakers - 2023 SHOW 

Bevin Cohen is an author, herbalist, gardener, seed saver and educator. He is the owner of Small House Farm and the founder of Michigan Seed Library Network, a community seed sharing initiative that has helped establish nearly one hundred seed library programs. Bevin offers workshops and lectures across the country on the benefits of living closer to the land through seeds, herbs and locally grown food and has published numerous works on these topics including the bestselling book, 'Saving Our Seeds' and his latest book, 'The Artisan Herbalist'. He serves on the board of the International Herb Association and the advisory council for the Community Seed Network, a multi-national education and networking platform.

CANCELLED - Chef Robert Rhymes is a professional chef and educational consultant who is a native of Clarksdale, Mississippi and now resides in Centralia, IL. He currently serves as the Executive Chef/Program Coordinator for the Kaskaskia College Department of Culinary Arts; the owner and executive chef of Spirals Gourmet Foods: Great Food with A Twist, a traveling personal chef and catering company; and as the owner and lead consultant of Robert Rhymes Consulting.  He has over 18 years of professional culinary experience and 14 years of culinary educational experience. He is an avid traveler and has visited and studied the authentic cooking techniques of over 18 foreign nations.

Steve and Regina Garr,  Birds-I-View - have spent decades presenting programs on attracting desirable wildlife to almost any setting. They are co-founders of two state Bluebird societies and Steve is a past president of the North America Bluebird Society. From Hummingbird Research to leading "Owl Prowls", Steve and Regina try to stay involved in all aspects of enjoying wild birds!

Christopher Benda is a botanist and past president of the Illinois Native Plant Society (2015-2016). Currently, he works as a Researcher at Southern Illinois University, where he coordinates the Plants of Concern Southern Illinois Program and teaches The Flora of Southern Illinois. Besides working at SIU, he conducts botanical fieldwork around the world, teaches a variety of classes at The Morton Arboretum and leads nature tours for Camp Ondessonk. He has research appointments with the University of Illinois and Argonne National Laboratory and is an accomplished photographer and author of several publications about natural areas in Illinois. He is also known as Illinois Botanizer and can be reached by email at [email protected].

Jim Barker had an idea of turning his farm into a floral wonderland.  Rather than planting set-aside land in fescue, Barker has transformed his property into small patches of prairie that resembles what Hamilton County would have looked like before modern agriculture.  Jim has transformed about 50 acres into an artist's palette of color, ranging from the golden yellow of  Black-eyed Susans, the deep reds of Cardinal plants and rich oranges of Butterfly Milkweed planted along with Wild Bergamot, Purple Coneflowers and Blazing Star.

Callie Lueking, Flower Girls is a family business northwest of Woodlawn, IL.  The Flower Girls do numerous flower arranging jobs, including weddings, proms, parties, etc.  They grow many of the flowers they use in their unique and unusual flower designs.

Shahiida Terry Hickey, General Manager of Dayempur Herbals, a regional business located in Carbondale, IL that handcrafts all natural herbal remedies.  Terry is active in providing workshops on herbal medicine and natural healthcare and is the Founder of "Women's Health Naturally," an annual regional Expo held in Carbondale.

Crystal Hemby, Hembeez Honey Farm a local business in Mt. Vernon,IL - Crystal and her husband formulate and sell many products made out of honey. 

David Mason, New Creation, teaches stained glass and jewelry classes at the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mt. Vernon and has created stained glass windows for individual houses and churches, such as Prince of Peace Lutheran church and C. E. Brehm Library in Mt. Vernon.

Richard Dorris, Lavender Falls, has a U-pick lavender farm east of Mt. Vernon he established in 2016 with his wife, Kay.  Richard distills his own lavender oil to use in the products they sell.  They have lavender sachets, dried flowers and buds, bath products, to name a few of their products.  And of course, Lavender Lemonade.