Posts Tagged: Master Gardeners
UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners played a key role in establishing a vibrant garden behind a church in Livermore that has produced 8,000 pounds of vegetables for the church's food kitchen, reported two MGs in a column published in the San Jose Mercury News.
What was unused vacant land only three years ago has spurred the creation of an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization called Fertile GroundWorks. Fertile GroundWorks has pilot projects under way to help organizations establish and operate new community gardens. The Alameda County Master Gardeners are playing an expanded educational role, the article said.
Urban gardens can produce thousands of pounds of produce.
Over the past year, volunteers in the University of California Cooperative Extension Ventura County Master Gardeners program have transformed space next to the Goebel Senior Adult Center in Thousand Oaks into a living showcase of native, drought-tolerant plants and sustainable garden concepts, said an article in the Ventura County Star.
The "California True Colors Garden and Learning Center" contains a collection of 200 desert plants such as the Palo Verde tree, desert grasses and the violet-flowered foothill penstemon growing along meandering paths and dry pond bed.
"These are tough plants. We don't feed them, we hardly water them, but look how beautiful they are," said Master Gardener Fayde Macune. "They do well with very little care."
Jim Downer, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Ventura County, said the garden also has a research component. Forty plants are "Arboretum All-Stars" — specimens provided by UC Davis that are proven to be low maintenance, drought-tolerant and attractive to beneficial wildlife such as pollinating insects. Others will be trial plants.
The dry pond (right) at the California True Colors Garden and Learning Center.
Some experts say federal farm subsidies contribute to the nation's obesity crisis, reports Marni Jameson in the Chicago Tribune. They argue that corn and wheat, the most heavily subsidized crops, are also staples in a variety of common, fattening, nutrition-deficient foods. But UC agricultural economist Julian Alston says farm subsidies are unrelated to obesity. "I get annoyed because everyone points to farm subsidies as one of the top two reasons for the obesity epidemic, but it's irrelevant," Alston said. He believes the elimination of farm subsidies would have a negligible effect on obesity rates.
Master Gardeners ready to help
Karen Rifkin, The Willits News
In a general feature story about the Mendocino County Master Gardener program, volunteer Wendy Roberts was quoted: "Master gardeners are trained volunteer staff of the University of California Cooperative Extension. They are members of the local community who share a common interest in and love of the growth and care of plants and provide practical, scientific horticulture and gardening information to the citizens of Mendocino County."
If farm subsidies have contributed to America's obesity epidemic, the impact has been slight and indirect.
In addition, plans are in place to make the organic planting and composting operation a demonstration garden with a monthly curriculum and teaching cycles for anyone who wants to learn about gardening, the story said.
The pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church, Chuck Johnstone, suggested last year that open land behind the church could be used to grow food for the hungry. In August, Alameda County Master Gardeners Bruce Campbell and Mark Brunell and a team of volunteers prepared the soil for planting by digging down 18 inches by hand, screen-sifting the soil to remove the pebbles and rocks, and forming five 80-foot-long raised beds. In December they held a four-hour planting party.
"We're doing all this on a shoestring. We replaced a large cash outlay with a lot of (volunteer) labor," Campbell was quoted in the article.
Reporter Thomas Petty said the Master Gardeners have two simple goals for the garden:
- Use an organic market garden model. Food scraps from the food kitchen are composted and put back into the garden for fertilizer. No artificial fertilizers or pesticides are used and the group is working toward "bio-intensive" beds.
- Have a closed system in which proper crop rotation increases soil fertility. Nothing goes into the system except sun, water and compost.
The Garden of Grace blog reported that 50 heads lettuce - romaine, green and red salad bowl, red sails lettuce, and some Russian red kale leaves - 12 broccoli heads, 6 Bull's Blood beets, and 6 turnips were harvested from the garden on Easter Sunday.
At the end of a lengthy list of hoity-toity restaurants and upscale events published in the Los Angeles Daily News this week, the writer slipped in a road trip to the Great Park Farm and Food Lab in Orange County, where educational gardens are maintained by UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners.
After dishing about the five-spice braised pork belly with star anise served at Rama, seitan meatballs with tomato ginger curry at Mana's on Maple, and a $150 per person fundraiser at the Ritz-Carlton, food editor Natalie Haughton plugs the lab's pizza and spaghetti garden, where people can see vegetables growing before they are chopped into marinara sauce.
The Farm and Food Lab features planters brimming with fruits, flowers, vegetables and herbs. There are 12 themed garden beds - including an ethnic garden, fruit salad garden, herb garden and sensory garden - that introduce kids and adults to new and interesting produce and plant life.
The lab is only a small part of the Great Park's venture into urban agriculture. Planners have set aside 114 acres of the former El Toro Marine Corps. Air Station to be cultivated with food crops for the first time since James Irvine sold his lima bean fields to the U.S. government 70 years ago.
An herb garden in the Farm & Food Lab in Orange County.