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Amidst the food, fun and heat, Master Gardeners talk with an averagEMGs at state fair 2013.jpge of 400 people per day during the Fair. They answer questions on everything from how to pollination troubles on squash to Japanese beetle management to powdery mildew on peonies. They try to identify oddities that people bring as pictures on their smart phones or (!!!) in their pockets. It's fun, fast-moving - and challenging!

"The visitor doesn't always tell you the whole story immediately", explained state director Julie Weisenhorn. "So part of being a Master Gardener is being a detective. It's satisfying when we are able to diagnose a problem and recommend one or more possible research-based solutions. Many times, it's simply a change in cultural care of a landscape that will help resolve the problem."

It's a team effort too. In 2013, about 150 Master Gardeners from 21 different counties signed up to staff four-hour shifts in the booth located in the wing of the Ag/Hort Building dedicated to the U's College of Food, Ag, and Natural Resource Science. By the end of their shift, they have gotten to know fellow volunteers and made some new friends. By the end of the Fair, they will have spoken with about 5000 people from Minnesota and surrounding states with some visitors from as far as northern Canada.

In addition to staffing the booth, 24 Master Gardeners also volunteered this year to present on gardening topics at The Dirt Stage. Some of the topics: night gardening, tomatoes, lazy gardening, bees, native plants. The Dirt is a free stage  in the Ag/Hort Building designed to spread education about topics for Minnesota gardens and landscapes. In addition to Master Gardeners, presenters includes the MSHS, ornamental plant societies, and the green industry.

And, after it's over, volunteers can rest assured they have helped a slew of home gardeners solve some of their pressing issues and have healthier landscapes too.

Visit Master Gardeners, August 22 - Sept. 2, 2013 - 9am - 9pm, in Agriculture / Horticulture Building located at Judson and Underwood near Gate 7. Master Gardeners present noon - 2pm daily at The Dirt Stage in the same building.

The focus of the day was soil - good soil, bad soil, what's in soil - a2013-06-18 11.30.23.jpgnd how worms compost soil. Gopher adventurers gathered 'round as Extension educator and Master Gardener state director Julie Weisenhorn demonstrated worm composting using a commercially available worm bin called the Worm Factory.

"Do any of you compost at home?" Weisenhorn asked the kids. Almost all raised their hands. "What do you put in your compost pile?" Kids replied "Veggies!", "Bananas!", "Coffee filters!" Weisenhorn talked about carbon and nitrogen, and the importance of balancing green items (fruit rinds, vegetable peelings, grass clippings) with brown (dead leaves, paper). When Weisenhorn saw the kids were getting a little fidgety, she pulled the lid off the worm bin and separated the two bin sections. Worms dangling from the top section held their attention as she explained how worms need mucus to slither through soil and how they consume (and eliminate) soil through their digestive system to create vermicompost or "black gold" that's high in nutrients for plants.

"The worms are always a hit", said Weisenhorn. "No one can resist these squirmy, living creatures - especially when they find out how important they are to our gardens."

Gopher Adventures is one of the summer day camps offered by the University's Rec Sports Deparment for kids ages 7-11. Gardening is one option campers select when they register. Kids also choose from sports, computers, dance, art and more. Taught by Extension Master Gardener volunteers, the gardening option is a collaboration between the U of M Department of Youth Sports and Rec, Department of Horticultural Science and the College of Extension.

Read more:
Youth Sports & Rec
Horticultural Science
Extension Master Gardener

MDE June 24 2013 008 5x7.jpgJune 24, 2013 - Commissioner Brenda Cassellius of the Minnesota Department of Education, visited the Woodland Elementary School Garden in Alexandria, MN. The garden and the youth gardening program is a community partnership with District 206 Food and Nutrition Services, Woodland School, University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardeners in Douglas County, 4-H, and the United Way Target Volunteers.

During her visit, Cassellius met with summer school age childcare (Compass) children to learn how the children care for the garden. She also met with Master Gardeners Diane and Steve Henry (pictured here). Organized by the Master Gardeners, lessons in gardening as well as harvesting, weeding and watering are provided five days a week. The produce grown is served for meals to the children with extra produce donated to the United Way's combat hunger campaign. Read more ....

State Advisory Board Welcomes New Members

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 2013-2014 EMG SAB. 1.jpgThe University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener State Advisory Board welcomed five new board members in June at its first quarterly meeting of the 2013-2014 program year. It was also the first meeting functioning under new operating guidelines that aligns board member representation with the five University of Minnesota Extension regions.

The Extension Master Gardener State Advisory Board provides input and advice to the state Master Gardener staff about program direction, strategies and governing policies. Board members act as ambassadors of the statewide program. In 2013-2014 board members intend to increase communications and connections with county/local Extension Master Gardener groups within each member's region.

The board is comprised of fourteen Extension Master Gardener volunteers and four staff representative. Pictured above (l to r): Bob Azman (Ramsey Co.), Julie Weisenhorn (State Director), Dave Knapp (Anoka Co.), Nancy Lizette Berlin (Goodhue Co.), Tom Voigt (Ramsey Co.), Barb Gasterland (Hennepin Co.), Coralee Fox (Crow Wing Co.), Kit Sitter (Lake Co.), Rick Ellis (Stearns Co.), Patty Citrowski (Chippewa/Yellow Medicine Co.), Diane Henry (Douglas Co.), Paul Wood (Dakota Co.), and Terry Straub (Hennepin County Master Gardener Coordinator).  Board members not pictured include: David Moen (State Program Manager), Susan Thurston-Hamerski (Landscape Arboretum liaison), and Dori Vikla (Rice Co.).


Saluting Extension Master Gardener Volunteers

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 2013 nvwcelebrate-customizelocalemg.jpgDuring National Volunteer Week, April 21 -27, we salute University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener volunteers!  In the most recent year, Extension Master Gardeners contributed over 129,220 hours of volunteer service preparing for, teaching about, and assisting Minnesota citizens find information about best practices in horticulture and environmental stewardship. 

2012 Fair Booth Grow Yourself Healthy Display 005.jpgBy Terry Salmela, Extension Educator - Pine County

The U of M Extension Master Gardeners, Simply Good Eating and Community Nutrition staff in Pine County promoted healthy eating at the local fair and community garden. "Grow Yourself a Healthy Handful" was inspired by an educational program through the MN Landscape Arboretum.

Trina Barno, Simply Good Eating Director, and Kelly Appeldorn, Pine County Community Nutrition Educator put together two impressive display boards that Master Gardeners used in fair booths in both Kanabec and Pine counties. They also put together helpful handouts on U of M Extension recommended canning and freezing processes and recipes.

Extension Master Gardeners planted five gallon pails as well as five plastic flower pots full of the five most nutritious vegetables in May. They watered, fertilized and weeded them throughout the summer. The live potted examples were on display at the Pine County community garden and at the fair.

2012 Fair Booth Grow Yourself Healthy Display 010.jpgMaster Gardener fair booth co-chairs Roger and Linda Fischer designed the display, utilizing materials from the MN Landscape Arboretum as well as two tipping container stands and planted herbs in them. They were a favorite of fairgoers! The booth was located between two walkways, so it was visible from two sides. Nineteen Extension Master Gardeners answered visitors' questions on powdery mildew on vine crops, herbs, stringy snap beans, brown spots on hostas, flowers, vegetables and many other gardening topics. They even had a door prize sign-up for a four-hour tiller rental at a local dealer.

For more information:
Extension Master Gardener Program:
Extension Master Gardeners - Pine County: Terry Salmela,
MN Landscape Arboretum:

171712-18.jpgBy Adrienne Richter

Every Tuesday from June through August, U of M Extension Master Gardeners have been sharing their penchant for plants with students of the University of Minnesota's Gopher Adventures program--a day-camp style, summer youth program designed to open the minds and imaginations of local kids, ages 5-12.

Held in the Department of Horticultural Science Display Garden on the St. Paul campus, weekly themes like Gardening Basics, Soil Sleuths, and Trash to Treasures are designed to work as stand-alone lessons for those enrolled in the program for only a single week, while the overarching, acronym-based topic: "PLANTS" (P-lace, L-ight, A-ir, N-utrients, T-hirsty (water) and S-oil), ties everything together for those who attend on a regular basis.

This year, the "Goldy in the Garden" program has been headed-up by Extension Master Gardeners Betsy Massie, Kate Wodtke, and Rochelle Jansen from Hennepin County --with help from a rotating support staff comprising volunteer Master Gardeners from across the state.

Each class typically begins with a brief lesson, group discussion, and activity centered around073112-6.jpg that week's unique theme in the Garden's Outdoor Classroom. During last week's Plant Parts class, students first discussed the structural components of familiar garden vegetables and flowers, and then applied what they had learned through the dissection of locally-grown Asiatic and day lilies.

As the day heats up, students migrate to the covered gazebo to record the past week's weather conditions and contemplate issues of conservation and environmental stewardship. This past week, "re-use" was the topic of discussion, and students were tasked with brainstorming ways to repurpose old shoes. Creativity flowed as students suggested options like donation, making hamster beds, and even using rain boots as vessels for potting plants.

071012-1.jpgThe most anticipated part of the day is the time spent in the ever-evolving Children's Garden--a kid-friendly, botanical oasis chock full of fragrant mint and basil; neon-stemmed Swiss chard; towering trellises of morning glories; and beds of eye-catching annuals. After taking inventory of the plants, discussing their various uses, and pulling out the errant weed (or two), the students were let loose in the garden to observe, discover, and (of course) harvest a few goodies to take home and share with their families.

Next week, Pollution Solutions takes center stage, followed by a plant-based scavenger hunt in the garden. In week ten, everything comes full circle, as students are able to see how their planting, weeding, and watering has paid off--with an end-of-the-season harvest party, where students can literally "eat what they sow."

For more information:
Extension Master Gardener Program -
Department of Rec Sports Youth Progams:

1st_drawing_by_youth_in_our_asa_garden_classes_2012(2).jpgU of MN Extension Master Gardeners recently taught a Children's Gardening Class in the Aurora-St Anthony Neighborhood. Eight children attended including one mom (who helped weed)!

Master Gardener volunteers on the scene were Diane, Sarah R, Ge, Z, Melvin, and Sean.

The class started out with the gardeners drawing a picture of their ideal garden or coloring a plant part picture. Attached the works of the 2 older girls. One gardener designed a pea teepee in her ideal garden!. The students acted out 'radishes and weeds' in an effort to understand why weeding is important. Then, Gardeners to the Rescue! The class weeded the west border where we will be planting lettuce this week and did a great job!

Next up was a demonstration of what plant parts people eat. The class examined carrots (roots), celery (stem), cauliflower (flower), lettuce (leaves), cherry tomatoes (fruit), and sunflower seeds (seeds). Then they ate these plant parts in 'plant part roll-ups' -chopped carrots, celery, cauliflower, tomatoes, and sunflower seeds rolled up in a lettuce leaf, dipped in Ranch or Western dressing. SUCCESS!!!!!!! The kids ate them, liked them....even asked for seconds.

One Master Gardener volunteered to be a radish! That is truly being present to the cause!

Looking forward to our next class--BUGS!

Submitted by M. P., U of MN Extension Master Gardener - Ramsey County

In recognition of Master Gardener volunteers and the 35th anniversary of the University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener program, Governor Dayton proclaimed July 19th, 2012 as U of M Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Day in MInnesota. Click here and read more about the contributions of Master Gardeners and the Governor's proclamation.

The University of Minnesota Extension Volunteer Master Gardeners of Dakota County, in cooperation with the U of M Rosemount Research and Outreach Center (RROC), are sponsoring Super Tuesday Evening in The Garden

Date: Tuesday, July 31
Time: 5 - 8 p.m.
Location: Dakota County Master Gardener Research and Display Gardens in UMore Park,1605 West 160th St. in Rosemount (1 mile east of the intersection of Highways 46 and 3).

The event is free and open to the public.

The evening provides garden-centered presentations on projects currently underway at the RROC along with tent talks on special topics of gardening interest. Garden talks are organized around six themes: Growing Healthy Food, Sustainable Landscapes, Minnesota Introductions & Bird Gardening, Preservation of Pollinators, Minnesota Reasearch, and Gardening for Kids. There will be four special tent presentations on Weed, The Well-Tended Garden, Plant Photography, and Honey Bees.

The Extension Simply Good Eating program will share information about the importance of eating healthy and nutritious food, especially those fresh foods from your own garden.

Tickets for refreshments will be available for purchase on site.

Visit the Dakota County Master Gardener blog at for more information and continual updates on the event and other Master Gardener projects at UMore.

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