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Re: MGs as resource for low-income community gardeners

Regarding previous messages bemoaning MGs being predominantly interested in pretty
plants in upperscale garden projects--

Our program is vastly different! We serve ONLY low-income and
limited-income folks.

Our Los Angeles County Common Ground Garden Program, in which Master
Gardeners operate, focuses on helping low- and limited-income county
residents to grow and eat more nutritious vegetables and fruits. MGs
receive training in organic gardening and outreach techniques, and they
earn their hours only in gardens helping these folks. When I first
resuscitated the program 10 years ago, we sought gardeners who were
interested in volunteering. After a couple of years, we recognized that we
weren't connecting with low-income folks, so we changed our tact 180
degrees. We advertised wanting volunteers who were interested in the
basics of gardening, and I visited all 60 of the community gardens to drum
up interest in getting someone from each of the gardens to be a Master
Gardener, the "resident personal expert" for each garden. These two
efforts have made all the difference. Besides having at least one MG at
almost all of the gardens, we now are attracting many more people and
funders to the program because of our networking and connecting emphasis.

In addition, as part of the outreach networking during the course, I invite
MGs to give a 5-minute (!) presentation on their projects during the lunch
hour, and they must also have a signup sheet for a scheduled workshop. In
this way, new MGs can see exactly what the projects are (instead of trying
to figure it out from the presentation alone), and decide if they want to
continue once they've actually worked at the site. This inspires MGs to
develop their own projects, which they must OK with me to make sure they're
focused on low-income folks.

This was a scary change initially, because everyone felt threatened and
limited to helping only low-income folks--especially for those MGs who
didn't ordinarily associate in those circles--but ultimately benefited us
all as individuals and as a group, and certainly as a "government and
university" entity.

The trick, of course, is to make it happen from the inside. Go for it!
Yvonne Savio
Common Ground Garden Program Manager
University of California Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County
4800 E. Cesar Chavez Ave., Los Angeles 90022
Phone: 323-260-3407
Fax: 323-881-0067
Email: ydsavio@ucdavis.edu
Website: celosangeles.ucdavis.edu (click on "Common Ground Garden Program")
Master Gardener Email Gardening Helpline: mglosangeleshelpline@ucdavis.edu
Master Gardener Phone Gardening Helpline: 323-260-3238

Volunteers of the Common Ground Garden Program help low-income and limited-resource county residents to grow and eat more nutritious vegetables and fruits. Programs include Master Gardener volunteers (seasonal gardening presentations) and Fresh From The Garden volunteers (simple nutrition and food safety presentations). We work primarily with community gardens, school gardens, seniors, and homeless and battered women's shelters.

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

To post an e-mail to the list: community_garden@mallorn.com

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your subscription: https://secure.mallorn.com/mailman/listinfo/community_garden

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