Amidst the food, fun and heat, Master Gardeners talk with an average 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 - and 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.
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.
Master 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: email@example.com
Extension Master Gardeners - Pine County: Terry Salmela, Terry.Salmela@co.pine.mn.us
MN Landscape Arboretum: http://www.arboretum.umn.edu
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
July 19-21, 2012
Every two years, the Upper Midwest Regional Master Gardener Conference is hosted by WI, IL, IA, or MN. In 2012, it's our turn here in Minnesota, and we are excited and proud to be hosting the conference for Extension Master Gardener volunteers at the world-renowned Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
This conference is for Extension Master Gardeners and their guests only.
The conference will also feature a vendor fair, a silent auction with proceeds going toward the Jr. Master Gardener program in Minnesota, book signings, Minnesota Wine Opening Reception and a Minnesota Buffet Banquet featuring speaker Dr. Ed Schneider, Arboretum director.
The class sessions are diverse and exciting and focused around research in the Midwest! Some are classroom-based, some hands-on, some a little of both. Registration is now open. We hope all Upper Midwest Extension Master Gardeners will join us!
Registration is closed
With names like "Let's Get Growing," "Burst into Spring," and "Spring Wake-Up," horticulture days have become a popular way for University of Minnesota Master Gardeners to pack a lot of garden and environmental education for the public into one event. A keynote speaker, a series of educational workshops conducted by Extension educators and other plant experts, garden-related vendor booths and silent auctions are typical in the format of these one-day events. Last spring nearly 3000 people attended one of the many horticulture days hosted by local Master Gardener programs.
Extension Master Gardeners contributed more than 111,000 volunteer hours in Minnesota communities last year, many of which were spent teaching homeowners environmentally-sound landscaping practices or how to eradicate invasive plant species.
Community-wide programs, such as a long-term partnership with the Ramsey- Washington Metro Watershed District, illustrate what can happen when local alliances take off.
As part of the partnership, Ramsey County Master Gardeners work to revitalize Battle Creek, which drains a large part of the east Twin Cities metro area. As water rises in the creek, it undercuts the banks and vegetation is lost, causing further erosion and loss of animal habitats.
"Master Gardeners were instrumental in selecting long-rooted plants that would best stabilize the shoreline," says Sage Passi, watershed education specialist.
Master Gardeners also mentor Battle Creek Middle School students, showing them how to drive plants into erosion blankets. The school's science teachers are working with Master Gardeners to create a creek research area where students can compare different approaches to erosion control.
Protecting rivers, lakes and streams from yard-waste pollution is another priority for Ramsey County. Runoff from lawn chemicals can enter the waters through storm sewers causing fish kills, algae bloom and plant decay.
To help prevent that, Master Gardeners share tips on low-impact lawn care and composting at the county's yard waste and compost sites. The sites draw more than 500,000 people each season. Master Gardener Kathy Smith coordinates the effort.
"It all comes back to proper management of materials and reducing waste," says John Springman, environmental health supervisor with the St. Paul-Ramsey County Department of Public Health. "Master Gardeners extend our capacity to hone in on our environmental goals with the public."