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One of the missions of the Master Gardener Program of the University of Minnesota is to support UMN-Extension by providing volunteers trained in horticulture to educate the public with research-based information on the best practices in consumer-related horticulture and environmental stewardship.
• Crow Wing County Master Gardener Helpline
Crow Wing County Master Gardeners respond to phoned questions year around. Recorded horticulture-related questions are answered within 2-3 days of their receipt.
• Lakes Area Community Garden in Brainerd
The Lakes Area Community Garden located near Kiwanis Park in Brainerd was established in 2011 but the process of making this project a reality, like so many other projects, started a couple of years earlier. In 2009, a Blandin Leadership Conference was held for 24 Brainerd/Baxter area leaders. At that conference, several leaders identified relevant community issues. One common idea mentioned by several in attendance was establishing a community garden for the Brainerd area. At that time, representatives from several organizations committed to work together. During the process, issues came up that required the expertise and technical assistance of additional organizations, so additional team members were "recruited" such as Crow Wing County Extension and UMN Extension Crow Wing County Master Gardeners.
At the end of the process, a new community garden was established but also new relationships among community organizations were created....Lakes Area Senior Activity Center, Brainerd Noon Rotary, Brainerd Area Sertoma, Crow Wing County Extension, UMN Extension Crow Wing County Master Gardeners, Brainerd FFA Alumni, the City of Brainerd and the Brainerd Parks and Recreation Department.
• Gardening Presentations at Good Samaritan - Woodland Campus
Beginning in 2011, Crow Wing County Master Gardeners partnered with the Good Samaritan Society to facilitate monthly gardening classes from April through November at their Woodland Campus in Brainerd. The classes scheduled for 2011, to be offered the second Thursday of the month, are: "Starting Plants from Seeds", "Edible Landscaping", "Container Gardening", "Water Wisely", "Landscaping with Native Plants", "Herbal Gardening", "Early Bulbs" and "Holiday Pizzazz".
Also in 2011, the new Good Samaritan Community Garden based on the Woodland campus was planted! Brian Lehman, Good Samaritan Resource Development Director and daughter Megan, their friends, Barb, Nick & Anna Greatens, Sarah Speer, and Master Gardeners JoAnn Weaver and Tina Dunlap gathered July 5th to plant and mulch the new twelve raised beds. Many vegetables were planted, including several varieties of tomatoes and peppers, cucumbers, squash, onions and lots of herbs, including basil, thyme, oregano and cilantro. The flowers are beautiful and edible too, and include nasturtiums and pansies. There is also one whole bed devoted solely to asparagus, which will grow each year and will harvest some tender delicious stalks each spring!
Good Samaritan residents can choose their raised bed and be matched up with a partner to help take care of it and harvest the veggies. In fact, the harvested vegetables and flowers can all be used in the Good Samaritan Dietary Departments and served at mealtime! Imagine a freshly prepared salad complete with fresh garden-picked produce with bursts of color with tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, onions--beautiful and delicious!
If you are interested in volunteering or want more information about this community garden, contact Brian Lehman, Resource Development, at 218-829-1429 at the Woodland Campus.
• Gardening Presentations through ISD #182 and ISD #186 Adult Community Education Beginning in 2013, Crow Wing County Master Gardeners partnered with ISD #182 and ISD #186 to offer a series of gardening classes through their Adult Community Education program. The classes in 2013 are "Botany for Gardeners", "Beginner Gardening: How to Get Started" and "Growing Great Vegetables."
• Gardening Presentations through ISD #181 Adult Community Education
Beginning in 2010, Crow Wing County Master Gardeners partnered with ISD #181 to offer a series of gardening classes through their Adult Community Education program. Examples of some of the classes offered: "Low-Maintenance Gardening: Saving Time as well as Resources", "Gardening Small: Veggies in Pots and Raised Beds", "Victory Gardens", "Indoor Gardening: Overcoming the Roadblocks to Healthy Houseplants", "The Home Lawn: Basic Guidelines for Maintaining a Healthy Lawn", "Hostas" and "Home Composting.".
At the beginning of the summer Lisa Stawarski, coordinator for Brainerd Community Education's Youth Connection program, contacted Jackie Froemming, County Extension Educator and MG County Coordinator, to bring Master Gardeners into the classroom once or twice a week throughout the summer to teach the children about gardening. During the months of June, July and August, the following gardening talks were given by Crow Wing County Master Gardeners: "Basic Garden Tools", "Mulch", "Plant Parts", "Basic Garden Maintenance", "Edible Flowers", "Herbs", "Composting and Worm Composting", "Common Veggies and Fruits", "Uncommon Veggies and Fruits" and "Putting the Garden to Bed".
• Green Speakers at County Fair
In 2007 Master Gardeners offered short gardening presentations at the Horticulture Building during the county fair in 2007. The topics presented were "Stormwater 101", "Rain Gardens", "Rain Barrels", "The Beekeeper's Garden", "Shoreland Management", "Shade Gardening", "Oh dear, Deer!" and "Vegetable Container Gardening."
• Great Green Gardeners
A collaboration between Crow Wing County 4-H and Crow Wing County Master Gardeners. To learn more about 4-H Great Green Gardeners project club visit the blog, http://www.greatgreengardeners.blogspot.com/ To become a member, contact Crow Wing County Extension at 218-824-1065.
• Kids' Kountry Agricultural Learning Center
Kids' Kountry, a mobile interactive agriculture learning center, is used to educate young children about basic agricultural practices such as how milk reaches grocery stores. The concept for Kids' Kountry was developed by two local women, one of them a Crow Wing County Master Gardener. During the county fair, many volunteers staff the "stations" of Kids' Kountry - several of these volunteers are Master Gardeners.
• Gardening Presentations at Public Library in Brainerd
In 2007 a four-week "Spring Gardening" series was offered by a Master Gardener from Crow Wing County at the Public Library in Brainerd. The topics included in the series were "Perennials", "Annuals", "Ornamental Grasses" and "Planting under Trees." In 2013 the partnership was renewed by offering a series of youth presentations (Examples: "Worm Composting", "Build Your Own Terrarium") as part of the summer reading program. A series of adult presentations will also be offered in 2013 (Examples: "Introduction to Rain Gardens", "City Chickens: How to Keep a Backyard Flock" and "Edible Landscaping.")
• Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity - presentations to new families
For the first time in 2008 the Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity contacted the County Extension Office requesting a gardening presentation by Crow Wing County Master Gardeners. Originally the request was for a presentation "explaining to new home recipients on how to successfully grow grass at their prospective locations". The original task of instructing folks with no gardening experience on how to install lawns in the heat of the summer blossomed into a full fledged gardening class. From soil amendments to spacing trees, from planting annuals and perennials to planting conifers and deciduous trees, to the correct use of fertilizers and herbicides, Master Gardeners presented to the new home-owners the very basic do's and don'ts of growing things other than disappointment. According to all parties involved, the class was a huge success and most likely will turn into an annual or semi-annual event.
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