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Re: Fwd: Master Gardeners as a CG resource

  • Subject: Re: Fwd: [cg] Master Gardeners as a CG resource
  • From: "Jon H. Traunfeld" jt46@umail.umd.edu
  • Date: Wed, 03 Dec 2003 12:15:30 -0500

Hi,
I've really enjoyed the many experiences and points of view shared on this subject.  I'd like to offer a few comments about moving community food production to a higher place on the Extension priority list.

First, it's surely a good sign that so many MGs are on the ACGA list-serv.  Wheteher you think of yourself first as a community gardener or Master Gardener makes no difference.  The big message is that there is potential for a lot more interaction.

I empathize with those who have had negative experiences with MG programs or the Cooperative Extension Service in their locale.  A lot of good practical observations were related to explain why MGs and county agents were not receptive.  Other community gardeners reported solid support.  Clearly, there is wide variation from state to state and county to county.  Some of this is based on individual agent interests and blind spots and some can be traced back to Extension leadership and the major program initiatives that drive a lot of Extension work.

Some older Extension agents may still see food production as either occuring in a backyard or on a large commercial farm.  But the majority of field and campus faculty understand that there is growing interest in all the food production that occurs between these two poles- CSAs, organic market gardens, youth entrepreneur micro-enterprises, school, prison, and community gardens, etc.  Growing or finding local food is the topic of many media articles and reports (not to mention the interest in ethnic and heirloom foods).   All of this food production- whether for individual profit or community betterment- is part of the community food system.

In many states, Extension has been able to transition to a more wholistic, environmental/sustainable approach to horticulture.  And many of us now use the term community horticulture (rather than "home horticulture" or "consumer horticulture") to include all green spaces, public and private. Isn't it time that CES and the MG programs see the big picture when it comes to food production?  It's up to all of us to make this an issue and push for change.  Extension will have a much brighter future if it can make the leap.
Jon

Adam36055@aol.com wrote:
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
 






Subject:
Re: [cg] Master Gardeners as a CG resource
From:
"Monica Cox" <Monica_Cox@msn.com>
Date:
Mon, 1 Dec 2003 14:48:43 -0800
To:
<Adam36055@aol.com>

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
 
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, December 01, 2003 12:00 PM
Subject: Re: [cg] Master Gardeners as a CG resource

Jean,

Master gardeners are a mixed bag, for sure - and am quite partial to uppermiddle class folks (of any hue) who can stand a bunch of volunteers to an adult beverage after a day of do-gooding!

The idea, and this is central, is to get more master gardeners to be engaged in food producing and neighborhood centered projects, and to get more community gardeners to become master gardeners. Your work sounds absolutely lovely and a credit to your trowel.  We just need to encourage more folks to follow in your footsteps or explore cloning!

Best wishes,
Adam Honigman
Volunteer,
Clinton Community Garden

Subj: RE: [cg] Master Gardeners as a CG resource
Date: 12/1/03 2:50:30 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: grayj@ottawa.edu
To: skyprice@iserv.net, jimcall@casagarden.com, community_garden@mallorn.com
Sent from the Internet



I am a Master Gardener in Phoenix, Arizona, and am also a student working toward a Master’s degree in Professional Counseling as well as being employed full time.  I am using horticultural therapy in my internship with developmentally disabled dually-diagnosed clients in a day treatment center and group homes.  I have studied botany and horticulture during my undergraduate program.  I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru working in agricultural extension with the support of the USDA.  I’m also a community garden supporter, and interested in ecopsychology and in healing gardens.  (We’ll be building a Medicine Wheel garden at one of the group homes.)

 


In my Master Gardening classes in Phoenix, and other extension classes I’ve taken over the years, I’ve met a variety of people from all walks of life, all colors, all income levels, and with many interests.  I wouldn’t put them in the narrow category of white, upper middle class, and they definitely had a range of interests.

 


Jean Gray

Graduate Programs Advisement Coordinator

Ottawa University, Phoenix






-- 
Jon Traunfeld
Regional Specialist / State Master Gardener Coordinator
University of Maryland
12005 Homewood Road
Ellicott City, MD  21042

Tele: 410.531.5556
Fax:  410.531.5567
jont@umd.edu
www.hgic.umd.edu





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