Several counties promoted and participated in the national "Grow a Row for the Hungry" program. In Pine County, 'Grow A Row' was the theme for the Master Gardener booth at county fair. They handed out information about food shelves in the county, growing vegetables in containers, and how to become a Master Gardener. One Master Gardener alone contributed 1167 lbs. of produce to the local food shelf. Goodhue Master Gardeners got involved in the program for the second year. An average of about 200 lbs. of produce was donated weekly to the Red Wing Area Food Shelf, doubling the amount donated in 2008.
Recently in the South Category
Several county Master Gardener programs collaborate with local corrections departments on projects that benefit the corrections system clients and the greater public. In Olmsted County, Master Gardeners teach Dodge, Fillmore, Olmsted (DFO) Community Corrections staff and community work service clients the basics of vegetable gardening. The participants learn to grow and harvest vegetables from a 1-acre garden they maintain. About 200 youth performing community service and about 50 adults on daily work release from jail are involved. Upon harvest, they prepare and sell the vegetables. Over 5000 pounds of vegetables are harvested. This project provides a constructive environment for youth to serve their community service hours. It also acquaints the participants with all aspects of gardening and experiences that illustrate the rewards from work.
Work continues with the Enabling Teaching Garden Project at Cherry View Elementary School in Dakota County. Using a Minnesota Master Gardener grant, Master Gardeners worked with a special needs Boy Scout and his troop to construct an enabling garden for horticultural therapy. The garden included a wheelchair accessible bed surrounded by a wheelchair accessible path. Special needs students and their helpers were given instruction and assisted in the planting of their sensory garden that includes highly textured, colored, and fragrant plants. Students and helpers maintained the garden during the school year and through the summer months. The garden has been especially meaningful to special needs students and their families. It also exposes all who visit the school to the benefits of horticultural therapy.
Goodhue County Master Gardeners were involved in creating a larger-scale city park designed with special needs in mind. In Faribault County, Master Gardeners have worked with a local nursing home and engaged both residents and youth in creating a raingarden at the facility in Winnebago. This year youth had the opportunity to work with the senior citizens on garden cleanup in the spring. Together they divided perennials and extra plants were sold to benefit the nursing home.
The Master Gardener Program collaborated with Extension's 4-H program to pilot the Junior Master Gardener 4-H SET (Science, Engineering, and Technology) project in 2009. The pilot was generously funded by a grant from the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA) Foundation.
There were six expectations of each site.
- engage at least 10 youth in a minimum of 8 learning sessions
- involve a local MNLA member sponsor
- incorporate a science experiment and a service project
- use technology to teach, communicate and report
- utilize JMG curriculum and have some type of teaching garden
- participate in evaluations
Six counties were selected to participate; two had multiple sites: Clearwater, Crow Wing, Olmsted (2), Sherburne, Stearns (2), and Winona. Seventy-two participants attended one of two trainings. Each site received JMG materials and a $125 grant for supplies.
All sites were successful. Data from the pilot evaluation shows that in total:
- 125 youth enrolled in the project; 97 youth completed the entire project
- 30 percent of youth participants were non-white/persons of color; 70 percent were white/Caucasian
- 87 youth were new to the 4-H program