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Generous Gift to Benefit the Program

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P. Hartley_MG_0016-8 (2).jpgPlease join us in celebrating an exciting gift to benefit the Extension Master Gardener Volunteer program!

Pam Hartley, a Ramsey County Extension Master Gardener, has created a new endowment fund at the University of Minnesota Foundation to support educational programming for the statewide Extension Master Gardener Volunteer program.  In addition, she has included this endowment fund as part of her estate planning.  We thank Pam for her dedication to, and vision for the program.

"Pam's generous gift will allow us to expand and enhance our educational offerings as well as strengthen innovative programming and increase access to information. Her belief that continuing education and advanced training is key to keeping the program strong will have positive benefits for Extension Master Gardeners throughout the state," said Extension Master Gardener Program Director, Tim Kenny.

Pam has served as a dedicated Extension Master Gardener for nearly two decades, mostly in Anoka County and now in Ramsey County.  She continues very actively volunteering to educate residents in sustainable gardening practices.

Over her years as an Extension Master Gardener volunteer, Pam has taught educational classes for both adults and children and helped to create a Veteran's Peace garden that is used as a teaching garden. Pam has enjoyed volunteering at information booths, farmer's markets, diagnostic clinics, the state fair, and answering phone inquiries. She has been honored to act as a mentor to interns and has served in many leadership roles, including both the state and county advisory boards, organizing horticultural days, and co-chairing a regional Extension Master Gardener conference.

Thank you Pam for your generous commitment and your investment in the future of the Extension Master Gardener program!

August 4 blog post.jpgThe 2014 Minnesota State Fair is just around the corner - August 21 through September 1. Be sure to stop by the "Ask a Master Gardener" booth in the Agriculture and Horticulture building when you are at the fair. Just say "hello" or bring your gardening question. Extension Master Gardener volunteers will be at the booth from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. daily to help you solve gardening questions, provide information about biochar and tomato diseases, and share links and references to a wealth of University of Minnesota Extension garden information.  You may not find anything on a stick at this booth, but you'll find Extension Master Gardener volunteers eager to assist you.

tomato trial 2014 web.jpg
by Julie Weisenhorn, University of Minnesota Extension educator, horticulture


This year, one crop being trialed by Extension Master Gardeners is patio tomatoes. These are tomatoes developed to be grown in containers - smaller, more compact and prolific producers. Extension Master Gardener volunteers Clarie Kari, Lynn Meyer, and Anita Hoaglund, along with Extension educator Julie Weisenhorn, planted the trial tomatoes in large containers in the outdoor classroom of the Hort Science Display Garden on the St. Paul campus. The team is asking the public to rate the tomatoes via an online survey. Visitors can click on a QR Code with their smart phone or type in the survey link. The Extension Master Gardener campus trials team is looking forward to seeing how using this technology in the garden might help gather the public's taste preferences for the patio tomatoes.

 

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: mgweb@umn.edu
Extension Master Gardeners - Pine County: Terry Salmela, Terry.Salmela@co.pine.mn.us
MN Landscape Arboretum: http://www.arboretum.umn.edu

Master Gardeners cultivate healthy environment

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smith.jpgExtension 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."

A solar heated greenhouse for Grand Marais school

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A $10,000 grant from the Lloyd K. Johnson foundation allowed Cook County Master Gardeners to expand their youth gardening program by building a small solar heated greenhouse onto the Great Expectations School in Grand Marais. This will allow more local food production for the school and provide a space for after-school youth gardening programs.

The Master Gardeners are working with a licensed teacher to develop lesson plans on growing plants in the classroom as well as nutrition education. These grade-appropriate activities will be tied to the Minnesota educational standards.

Master Gardener

In 2010, University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardeners in Anoka County wanted to have a more definitive picture of how much their classes and services affect changes in garden practices by people attending their educational sessions. They conducted an electronic survey of people attending their horticulture day, "Walk in the Garden" classes and diagnostic clinics.

The educational sessions that were evaluated all provided information and recommendations about best practices in home garden and landscape care. There were special themes about environmental impacts that encouraged reduction of water use and reduced chemical usage through practices of integrated pest management (IPM).

An E-survey was sent to 176 individuals. The response rate was 45 percent. Assessment of the survey results showed the following positive impacts:

  • 11% completed a soil test
  • 19% started composting
  • 20% reduced watering from the prior year
  • 26% reduced overhead watering
  • 27% reduced late afternoon/evening watering
  • 21% installed a rain barrel
  • 24% used less pesticides
  • 22% used less fertilizer
  • 40% planted more vegetables than in the previous year
  • 17% removed invasive/noxious weeds from their property
  • 24% changed practices of how they cared for trees
The results of this survey demonstrate that the educational effort of University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener volunteers makes an impact.

School-based projects thrive in Ramsey County

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Battle Creek Middle School students

Last year in Ramsey County, Master Gardeners spent approximately 604 volunteer hours working with 1,865 students and 89 adults through school-based projects. These school-based community enrichment projects will have a lasting impact upon future gardeners. The gardens will help manage storm water run-off, beautify schoolyards, inform future school education activities, serve as demonstrations to students, staff, residents and visitors, and provide valuable wildlife habitat. Master Gardeners explained and discussed garden design elements, evaluated sites for schoolyard gardens and residential rain gardens, explained soil types and conducted soil sampling, taught students to identify common garden weeds, and instructed students on seed starting and transplanting.

Check out this thank you note from a Battle Creek Middle School student: "Thank you so much for everything you've done. You've been really helpful to Battle Creek. I think it's awesome that you care about our community. What I'm trying to say is that it means a lot to us middle-schoolers that you helped take care of our environment. Thanks a bunch."

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