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re: Master Gardeners

  • Subject: [cg] re: Master Gardeners
  • From: "Bill Maynard" bMaynard@WoodRodgers.com
  • Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 07:46:41 -0800
  • Content-class: urn:content-classes:message
  • Thread-index: AcO484CgBvNKwSTiEdiw7gADR2vUag==
  • Thread-topic: re: Master Gardeners

As a master gardener in Sacramento County here are a few comments
MGs come in all sizes, colors, backgrounds and applied for the volunteer position. A track record of volunteering is most important as that is what they will be doing...volunteering their time for something that they are interested in and believe in.  Selection is based an interview and application. Application asks about your garden interest etc. so they know who to refer items to on like roses, trees, vegetables and community gardens.
Last time we had a recruitment process we had over 80 apply for only 35 slots.  Some MG offices keep those that applied on the books for future openings so it may take time to make the cut.  They are then finger printed and trained and sent out to help the public...  If they dont know an answer they will find it.
I was interested in the make up of our MGs.  I mapped out where all MGs lived in the county that we serve. My initial reason for doing this was to find others in my area to network with.  As i found out...6 others and i lived in the North Western part of the county but miles apart. ...the other 150 or so were mainly in the eastern part of the county within blocks of each other..   was a real eye opener even for us... but some had suspected it ...but no one ever actually plotted were the MG lived.  I think next time they will probably take a closer look at where folks live to help all areas...
so i recommend to all MG groups to take time to find your areas of low representation and market the MG program there on your next recruitment cycle.  
it is true that the Master Gardener Program is a technical advice resource, a rehash of the old county agent that helped farmers with problems that they confronted in growing crops for the nation.  It was not and does not exist to be a labor source (as was mentioned in a previous email). but that doesnt mean that once involved with a garden that they cant put on another hat to volunteer there (off the clock so to speak).
It is also true that people including MGs have a wide variety of interests. Some like flowers, some like trees or native plants, some orchids or roses and fortunately some like vegetables.  you break that down further and you find their real interests, comfort levels and specialties of each MG till you find those that like community gardens and school gardens. Call the MG office and make a request for help (advice) ...  MG offices then offer (or post) volunteer opportunities to their MGs...MGs choose what they want to be involved with per their personal interests.  each MG must volunteer approx.
50 hours each year..we require 10 hours of it to be gardening with kids....some exceed these hours with no problem.. others find it hard to make 50 hours...each MG finds things that they can do or are interested in to get the hours needed.
some volunteer in the office answering some of 450 calls per month on garden related topics...some do seminars or lectures to gardening groups, some do plant clinics at fairs, home improvement centers and nurseries, some research questions and help with horticulture research at UC Davis. and a small percentage are involved with community gardens.
Those MGs that help community or school gardens help at maybe 2 sites..
the garden where their plot is located and maybe a school garden. I
would estimate that the number of MGs involved with community gardens in
any area would be less than 20%.
some community gardens are for local neighborhood residents or park
district residents only ;but MGs are welcome to have a plot at any community garden -  this
policy offers a chance to be a part of the garden and to serve as the link to the MG program.  
Make sure your garden has this open plot policy for MGs.

a MG keeps track of their hours (advice/volunteer hours) for yearly requirements (hands on work does not count for MG volunteer hours) but also when they are truly involved with a garden or project...most will turn off the clock and pitch and get dirty also on their own time because they are hooked on community gardens.
MGs are concerned with the over use of pesticides and recommend organic
Methods whenever possible...attention is given to native plants as well as water conservation.

i recommend that you invite your MGs to your community gardens when in full production.. most dont know enough about community gardens but would like to...one visit and they will be hooked (if they are worth their weight in worm castings. ) also i suggest to ask your MG office when the next training session is happening....usually they hold one every other year or as needed to replace "duds" (MGs who stop volunteering). apply yourself and get other community gardeners to apply also.
MGs dont know all the answers...they can learn a thing or two from community gardeners as well...but isnt that part of gardening...sharing the harvest , ideas and knowledge?
Bill Maynard
Member ACGA
Master Gardener - Sacramento County
Sacramento Area Community Garden Coalition
Sacramento Hunger Commission
City of Sacramento Parks and Recreation Commission

The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org

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