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Thanks for the MG Postings

  • Subject: [cg] Thanks for the MG Postings
  • From: "Jim Call" jimcall@casagarden.com
  • Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2003 21:04:44 -0600

To All:
In reference to Diane's verbiage to "white middle class" as the composition of most MG organizations.... this is only used to define the demographics to this group.  This is the true makeup of the MGers in her area and as in my area.  You can call it "stereotyping" if you wish, but let the chips fall where they may.
 
I appreciate Adam's earlier comments about encouraging MGers to help those in need.
 
Don is also correct in having a great county extension agent to work with your local MG group and your volunteer projects.   Very good point.
 
In my case...
 
Our County Extension Agent was disappointed to the fact that the majority of the volunteer hours turned in by the MG interns was going to our Botanical Garden (BG) and not to the community as a whole.   So...  he told me that he was going to require the next class dedicate 10 hours of their 40 volunteer hours to the CASA Community Garden (CCG).  He invited me to speak to the class to "get them acquainted" with the garden.  When I came to speak, he wasn't present.  I introduced myself and told them the purpose for my brief presentation and was looking forward to working with them in the garden. 
 
When they found out that this was a requirement, all h_ll broke loose.  I lost them because of all the commotion.  After I left, I found out that our Extension
Agent failed to tell the class about this requirement.  Most said they were not working in "that garden" and if this was a requirement, they would quit the class.  So... the Extension Agent dropped it.  
 
As previously stated... MGers are great resources when they are committed to the effort.  In most cases, they are good for short term projects. 
 
On the average, we normally get 1 (sometimes 2) MG interns helping in the CCG.  The class size ranges from 25 to 40 per session.  The current class
had 4 to sign up and after 4 garden sessions, 1 has showed up to help. 
 
One more fact (I promise), most of the groups that help in the CCG, come back.  Year after year.  So I know we are doing things right.
 
Thanks for all the input.  Good or bad, we are all in this together.
 
Jim  
 
 
 
 
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, December 01, 2003 5:10 PM
Subject: Fwd: [cg] Master Gardeners as a CG resource

Friends,

This from Monica Cox, Master Gardener and Compost Specialist, Lane County, Oregon. Looks like the quality and committment of Master Gardeners to community is like politics in the good old USof A - LOCAL.

So, I guess it's something we all have to work on locally - get all of those nice shoulders to the wheel.

Monica, thanks for sending this to me. I forwarded it to the listserv to make sure that your voice was heard.

Best wishes,
Adam Honigman

Subj: Re: [cg] Master Gardeners as a CG resource
Date: 12/1/03 5:49:30 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: Monica_Cox@msn.com
To: Adam36055@aol.com
Sent from the Internet



Wow- what a bunch of stereotyping!  I recently ran into this misconception about MGs at a local garden symposium.  One of the speakers made some offhand comment about the Master Gardener volunteers being inadequately trained or ignorant about the importance of compost tea and the soil food web, the unwillingness of Extension agents to use non-chemical solutions to ag problems, etc.  I was dumbfounded - where did this self-righteous ignorance come from?  I have lived in Oregon for 30 yrs. and have been directly involved with the Master Gardener program and as well, have known ag professionals [personally, professionally, academically] during this time.  Granted, Oregon is progressive both environmentally and in addressing humanitarian causes so perhaps the MG program here reflects that orientation.  Lane County has an MG program that promotes sustainable practices and the composting segment is linked to a specialty program jointly taught by Extension and the City of Eugene's Waste and Recycling program.  There are eight local community gardens, many started and maintained by Master Gardener volunteers.  Projects like these are encouraged as a demonstration of the ability to apply what the training has provided.  There is a schoolgarden project, Latino families garden program, a healing garden, an at-risk youth CSA, several community gardens sponsored by the local food bank but managed by Master Gardeners and permaculture guild members.  Master Gardeners range in age from 18 to 70+; they are students, professionals, unemployed or under-employed, housewives, and retirees.  I guess the program is only as "good" as the program design and the opportunities that the individual MGs choose themselves.  The program is meant to be the volunteer arm of the US Extension Service, like 4-H but is educational in mission, as we serve as adjunct faculty for Oregon State University's Horticulture Department, providing science-based information to the public.  Just because the information is science-based doesn't mean that it does not promote organic practices.  We have soil testing done of our compost and compost tea trials so we can educate ourselves as well as the public on this emerging science.  Sure, composting is ancient practice but now science can explain it better.  Just as our approach to herbal and alternative medicine becomes acceptable to the mainstream, organic gardening practices also become readily accepted when the science behind it can be explained.  It is a matter of education.  When I invited this garden lecturer over to our Extension booth at the garden symposium, he was embarrassed to admit that he had no idea how well trained we were and he could find nothing wrong with the information we were providing to the public on compost tea making and the soil food web.  He had just assumed that we were as he had been led to believe: a bunch of middle class white women more interested in rose varietals than in growing vegs. organically or with interest or involvement in community efforts.  So he got an education that day.  And that is why we're out there, in the public eye, teaching, demonstrating, creating community gardens, and hopefully reversing stereotypes about the MG program and the Extension Service.  I sometimes perceive a defensiveness from gardeners who are self-taught and seem to resent the term "Master" Gardener; we simply have the advantage of academic training, which it is our mission to share.  What we need are gardeners who are willing to learn and to teach and to use all available resources in meeting community needs, without prejudging the resources available to them.
Monica
MG and Compost Specialist, Lane County, Oregon
 







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