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Growing People Font Cover of Book
Growing People Back Cover of Book

* Welcome provided by national garden expert, author, and TV/radio host, Melinda Myers!

* Award-Winning Educator

* National Organic Land Care Expert

* Jim's work has appeared in USA Today, Lawn & Landscape, and on Garden Pro Radio, and more!

Retails for $24.95

He [Jim] creates places where memories are made, emotions are tamed, moods are lifted, and inspiration occurs.

Melinda Myers, Garden Expert, Author, TV/Radio Host

Through our Horticulture program, Growing People clearly puts into perspective the life-changing work we do at Fox Valley Technical College for both students and the community, day in and day out.

Dr. Susan May, President, Fox Valley Technical College

I was honored to do this book with Chris Jossart. I run into people regularly who say, "This book is very well written." Chris takes an interview and creates a thing of beauty on paper for others to enjoy.

Jim Beard, Chair, Horticulture program, Fox Valley Technical College

Media Coverage

News Update!

Growing People in both book trade and available through Barnes & Noble!

The Country Today, Front Page

Natures Pathway, March 2016

The Larry Miller Show WPR

Waupaca County Post

Midwest Agriculture Almanac

WFRV Local Five Live

WFRV Local Five Live

Post Crescent

Blog: The Dig, Green Bay Botanical Garden

Blog: Garden Snips, Outagamie County Master Gardeners

Wisconsin Agriculturist, October 2015

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA: Research & Exchange Board

Growing People Live Shot

Anthony Domol from Local Five Live joins Jim at Appleton Medical Center to discuss the book and his organic growing systems.

Jim and Larry Live Shot

Jim with Larry Meiller, in-studio at Wisconsin Public Radio. Growing People was front and center on Wisconsin Public Radio--reaching audiences from Canada to the east coast!

Where to Find Our Book


Barnes & Noble


Fox Valley Technical College Appleton Campus Barnes & Noble Bookstore, Entrance 10

All Memorial Florists & Greenhouses locations in Appleton & Neenah

Appleton Medical Center Gift Shop

Theda Clark Medical Center Gift Shop

Mosquito Hill Nature Center Gift Shop, New London

Retail Book Trade:

New Leaf Distributing Company


Make Growing People your premiere vehicle for raising funds for your nonprofit green thumb projects!

Email or details.

News Release

Horticulture Pro Releases Book on Growing People

Stories of changing lives with green projects and new organic growing systems highlighted

When an experienced writer and storyteller got together with a technical “do-it-yourself” enthusiast to write a book, a few head scratches and a couple of trips to Google to find what something “really means” were accompanied by a lot of coffee and a ton of laughter.

Such was the case between award-winning educator and landscape designer Jim Beard and renowned editor in higher education and internationally-published writer Christopher Jossart. For these two gentlemen at Fox Valley Technical College, the state’s largest two-year college and one of the Midwest’s more recognizable agriculture and horticulture training centers, they needed to put their heads together. Why? It’s all about chronicling the changing of lives over 40 years through simply playing in a little soil and building a few pergolas.

After 17 months and a few life lessons like Jossart admittedly disclosing not knowing that a 2 by 4 is not “really a 2 by 4,” the two co-authored, Growing People: How green landscapes and garden spaces can change lives—a Wisconsin literary treasure that capturers amazing green landscape structures and the highly-spirited individuals behind the creation of their legacies.

The founding instructor of FVTC’s Horticulture Technician program, known in the state for its sustainable greenhouse practices, high-tech hydroponics and plant tissue labs, and student-built landmarks, Beard recently developed a 4B Organic Growing System: Beds, Bales, Buckets, and Brews. The system is presented in the book as guided, do-it-yourself steps on how to enhance one’s green thumb aspirations with personal flare.

One element of the 4B Growing System is “soil-less” gardening by way of straw bales. These “plant anywhere” natural gardens produced robust plants this year for a new sustainable growing and food service initiative at ThedaCare’s Appleton Medical Center (AMC). Jim and his students built three raised garden beds, two bale gardens, and two bucket-style gardens for AMC this past spring—all supported by aesthetic components and a solar-powered irrigation system.

“I have sampled a lot of greens in my career, and without a doubt, Jim’s straw bale garden produced the best parsley I have ever tasted,” says Larry London, executive chef with ThedaCare.

These straw bale gardens even come with decorative screened cages on wheels, which is a new product developed by Beard and highlighted during this year’s Wisconsin State Fair by garden expert, author, and TV/radio host, Melinda Myers.

“When you plant a garden you grow more than food and flowers,” notes Myers. “Jim Beard not only grows landscapes, but people as well. He creates places where memories are made, emotions are tamed, moods are lifted, and inspiration occurs.” Myers, a longtime friend of Jim’s, provides the Welcome in the book.

Beard is one of just a few horticulturists in Wisconsin who is nationally certified as an organic land care expert from the Northeast Organic Farming Association. Also a state-level Certified Landscape Architect, Beard led the development of several noteworthy regional landmarks in recent years, including the 9/11 Memorial in Greenville, paving and planting work for the Veterans Memorial at White City Park in Kaukauna, Brewster Village landscape makeover, and Hartling Family Rose Garden, which appeared in USA Today.

The book was written to reach a broad range of readers because of its blend of stories on helping people find purpose in life and by introducing the do-it-yourself 4Bs. Beard has incorporated green thumb projects to help people with autism and other personal setbacks in life as a brand of life-changing therapy. He regularly gives community lectures across the state and occasionally the Midwest as well.

“While students and community members learn how to grow plants, I am honored to also teach them how to grow people with their new skills and experiences,” says the 73-year-old military veteran.

Beard’s roots in creating large-scale volunteer movements date back to the mid-1970s when he started a nearly decade-long initiative to build “play pockets,” or small organic playgrounds, around Green Bay for schools and neighborhoods. That effort witnessed the completion of about 190 play pockets in three states when said and done, earning Jim three awards one behalf of his volunteers. “I’m just a farm boy who likes to bring out the best in people, and together we can change a few lives along the way,” he states.

Beard approached Jossart to write the book for him. “Not many people can make words come alive after an interview like Chris can,” he says.

“I was beyond humbled,” says Jossart, who has published articles in national and international journals spanning three decades. His first book, The Human Search Engine: It’s what you think you know about a job search that keeps you unemployed, earned acclaim as a required read in accredited higher education for two different programs and has been recognized as a national job search model on behalf of the 103rd United States Congress.

Upcoming Events

Outagamie County Master Gardener Garden Conference

Saturday, April 1, 2017, 8:00 – 3:30

Liberty Hall, 800 Eisenhower Drive, Kimberly, WI

Among the speakers, author and landscape horticulturist, Jim Beard, Books for sale.

More info:

Gardeners Club of Green Bay Celebrate Asparagus Day

Saturday, May 20, 2017, 9:00 – 2:00

UW Agriculture & Extension Service Center, 1150 Bellevue Street, Green Bay, WI

Back-to-back presentations of Beds, Bales, Buckets, & Brews!

More info:

Wisconsin Author Night

Wednesday, February 17, 6:30 – 7:30

Appleton Public Library – 225 N. Oneida Street

Come meet the authors and learn what’s in store for 2016! Book signing to follow.


Annual Garden Conference

Saturday, April 2, 8:30 – 3:30

Liberty Hall – 800 Eisenhower Dr., Kimberly

All-day book signing with Jim & Chris!

Put on by the Outagamie County Master Gardeners Association


Annual Spring Extravaganza

Saturday, April 9, 1:00 – 3:00

Fox Valley Tech Waupaca Regional Center, 1979 Godfrey Drive, Waupaca

Organic Gardening from the Expert, Jim Beard.

More info:


Fox Cities Book Festival

Thursday, April 21, 3:00 p.m.

Fox Valley Technical College Appleton Campus, Entrance 1

We are honored to join Patrick Dewane as part of an FVTC Authors discussion.

More info:


Neenah Public Library Adult Readers Program

Monday, April 25, 6:30 - 7:30

Shattuck Community Room

Beds, Bales, Buckets, & Brews

More info:


Growing Green

Saturday, May 21, 9:00 - 1:00

Mosquito Hill Nature Center

More Beds, Bales, Buckets, and Brews for the folks at this New London gem! Jim's presentation time TBD.

More info:


National Growing Green Convention

Friday, July 15, 9:45 – 10:30 & 10:45 – 11:30

Green Bay Botanical Garden

Back-to-back presentations of Beds, Bales, Buckets, & Brews!


Book talk live shot

Jim & Chris at the Fox Cities Book Festival with children's author, Patrick Dewane

Meet the Authors