Master Gardeners don't just experiment with plant varieties on their own, they assist University of Minnesota faculty with research. Beginning in 2009, Master Gardeners in Dakota County aided Extension horticulturist Dr. Vince Fritz on a Brassica research project. The project set out to evaluate variety performance and to characterize each variety's relative health benefit based on the variety's phytonutrient concentration. Vegetables with high phytonutrient concentrations are thought to have preventative benefits against some forms of cancer. The research is directly connected to a collaborative study Dr. Fritz is conducting with the U's Masonic Cancer Center.
Master Gardeners helped to plant and maintain the trial plots at the University of Minnesota's Rosemount Research and Outreach Center (RROC). They also assisted with data collection and as co-educators about the research during annual open house events at the RROC. Later this year a variety trial report will be published. The report will include relative phytonutrient concentrations in each of the varieties trialed.
Dr. Fritz says of the Master Gardener volunteers, "I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the Master Gardeners in Dakota County over the years. Their enthusiasm, desire to learn, and desire to 'pass it on' is contagious."