I like to think of gardeners as the original storm chasers. We can spot a change in humidity, temperature, scent and know if something is coming, and whether we should cover those tender seedlings, bring in the pots of zonal denial tropicals, or if we need to do an extra watering of the new plantings before tomorrow’s anticipated record high temperatures. A gardener is witness to the climate first hand, and many Master Gardener volunteers use these great skills as front row reporters on climate and climate change as part of the OSU Extension Oregon Season Tracker (OST) citizen science program reporting precipitation with national partner CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network).
Through CoCoRaHS, volunteers of all ages and background in all fifty states participate by measuring and mapping precipitation (rain, hail and snow). They share their precipitation measurements, providing important data for natural resource, education and research applications. Here in Oregon we’ve had over 70 Master Gardener volunteers join Oregon Season Tracker, active and engaged with reporting their precipitation, counting towards their hours of service in the Master Gardener program.
Shari Bosler, a Master Gardener in the Central Gorge region, collects precipitation data throughout the year. She shares her information with her local Master Gardener chapter, and with more participants sharing their data through the CoCoRaHS network, she’s able to see what’s happening throughout the region. Shari says “It’s been fun to total the amount of snow we receive (though it’s a bit less than fun to be the mad scientist at 7am to melt snow, then measure) using a white board.” But she knows she’s part of a larger network all contributing to capturing good local data for scientists and researchers across the country, and that’s exciting. This summer she learned she had totaled 2,614 observations to the network.
Master Gardener volunteers make great partners in capturing this data according to Jody Einerson of Oregon Season Tracker (OST) at OSU extension. “OST citizen science volunteers are collecting precipitation and plant phenology data from home that is contributed to databases operated by our national partners,” she says. “MG’s have been a great fit with the OST program, as we share a common interest in plants and weather connections.”
Amy Jo Detweiler, OSU Extension horticulturist and associate professor, also coordinates the Master Gardener Program in Central Oregon. Her publication, Water-wise Gardening in Central Oregon (revised this past June) is a vital resource for successful gardening with little water and includes the seven steps of water-wise gardening, along with planting recommendations from trees to shrubs to ornamental grasses.
“As we continue to see a consistent pattern of drought in the western United States, we need to balance what our home and commercial landscapes can and should look like with a focus on water conservation and water quality. Landscapes add value, beauty, and livability to our homes and communities, and keeping them water-wise is a critical part of being a good steward in our region.”
Water-wise Gardening in Central Oregon
Central Oregon Master Gardener volunteers helped to design, install and now maintain Hollinshead Waterwise Garden in Bend. They do cross programming with the City of Bend Water Conservation program to deliver classes related to water-wise gardening (in normal years). Master Gardeners also maintain water-wise plants at the OSU Demonstration Garden in Redmond. Both gardens have educational signs that depict water use fire-resistance, irrigation types, etc. The water-wise materials serve as materials for classes taught by Master Gardener volunteers.
Almost all of our Master Gardener volunteers felt the effects of wildfires this year, and we know that means our gardens, too. Master Gardener networks fielded queries and responded with science-backed information thanks to materials produced by Brooke Edmunds, OSU Extension Community Horticulturist (and Master Gardener Coordinator) in Linn and Benton Counties and assistant professor (practice) in the OSU Department of Horticulture. What should I do about the wildfire ash covering my garden? addressed exactly that question, and along with social media materials in English and Spanish, Master Gardener volunteers made sure the information was passed on into communities right when they were needed the most.
Today is Day 4 of Celebrate Master Gardener Week, and we hope you can make it to this evening’s “State of the Statewide Master Gardener Program” talk being given by Gail Langellotto. The presentation will review recent accomplishments and points of pride, current challenges and opportunities, and an overview of what is to come in 2021. And study up for tomorrow night’s Insect Trivia using both Zoom and some technology called Slido. Register here!
Today, I want to shine a spotlight on and celebrate all of the great work that Master Gardener volunteers do in support to support native species conservation and address concerns regarding invasive species.
In addition to promoting mason bee conservation, Washington County Master Gardeners have several ‘insect domiciles’ at their PCC Rock Creek education garden. These structures add visual interest to a garden, and provide year-round habitat for a variety of insects and arthropods to nest. The idea is that beneficial predators, including carabid beetles, rove beetles, and spiders take up residence in the domicile, and help protect the plants from garden pests. I hope to eventually work with the Washington County Master Gardeners to break down the structures and document the diversity of arthropod and insect residents within.
Master Gardeners across the state support native bee conservation and education, as community scientists who have partnered with the Oregon Bee Project to document the current status of Oregon’s bees. The Oregon Bee Atlas’ four year mission (2018-2021) is to train volunteers to explore Oregon Counties, to seek out new native bee records for the state, to boldly go where no amateur melittologist has gone before! These new specimen records will be added to newly digitized historic records from the Oregon State Arthropod Collection to build the first comprehensive account of the native bee fauna of Oregon. Master Gardeners in nearly every Oregon county participate in this statewide effort.
Master Gardeners are also stewards of native plant across the state. In our applied research program, we have studied 23 of Oregon’s native plant species, to better understand which are most attractive to pollinators ~ as well as to gardeners! Our 3-year field study identified a number of species were highly attractive to native pollinators across all years, including the Phacelia heterophylla, Solidago candensis, and Aster subspicatus. Unfortunately, these three plants were not attractive to many gardeners. We found that Gilia capitata and Eschscholzia californica were highly attractive plant to both native pollinators and to consumers. Clarkia amoena and Anaphalis margaritacea were moderately to highly attractive to native pollinators in 2/3 years of our field study. These plants were also found to be moderately attractive to gardeners. Finally, we established that several non-native plants that are popular with consumers and touted as bee plants are highly attractive to non-native honey bees and, but not native bees.
Master Gardeners also help to protect Oregon’s native species, by participating in research and education efforts related to invasive species detection and eradication. Earlier this year, Master Gardener volunteers in Jackson and Josephine County assisted the Oregon Department of Agriculture and OSU Extension in setting out and monitoring gypsy moth traps. Gypsy moth poses a significant environmental and economic threat to Oregon’s forests. In a normal year, the Oregon Department of Agriculture sets out more than 10,000 traps to find incipient populations, that can be effectively eradicated before moth numbers grow and expand to new areas. In 2020, COVID made it more difficult for the ODA to conduct their normal trapping and monitoring operations. However, Master Gardeners were ready and able to lend a hand.
It should be worth noting . . . that even though Asian Giant Hornet is not yet in Oregon . . . that it was the actions of dedicated volunteers, setting out traps throughout the summer, that helped scientists locate and eradicate the first Asian Giant Hornet nest in the United States. I am hoping that our colleagues in Washington State will be fully successful at locally eradicating this new invader. However, if need be, I also have great confidence that Oregon’s Master Gardener volunteers will heed the call to help keep this and other potential invaders from wreaking environmental and economic havoc in our state.
Thank you, Master Gardeners . . . for your love and protection of the natural world. You are helping to conserve and protect the natural history and heritage of our state, for future generations. You are helping to open people’s eyes to the beautiful insects that would otherwise be overlooked. You’re pushing boundaries with garden design, by placing native plants where they had previously had no place and creating habitat for insects.
Every time you build insect or bird habitat into your garden or share information about the ecological beauty of native species, you are making a difference. Your choices matter, and are helping to create a better world for all.
We continue our 2020 Celebration of Oregon’s Master Gardener volunteers, by thanking Master Gardeners for all they do to build strong local food systems across Oregon. If you haven’t already registered for the mini-film festival and discussion that accompanies Master Gardener week, you can do so by visiting THIS LINK. Tonight, we will be discussing “Land Grab: The Movie” with the film’s director, Sean O’Grady, and OSU Urban Agriculture Instructor, Mykl Nelson.
The Master Gardener Program first started in Oregon in 1976, with 31 individuals who enrolled for class in Lane County or in Clackamas County. Helping others grow their own food has always been an essential aspect of the Oregon’s Master Gardener Program. And volunteers are so diverse in their individual approaches to growing food, which offers so many examples and ideas to others who might be starting their own journey in food production. Below are just a few examples of the diverse food production methods innovated, demonstrated, and practiced by Master Gardener volunteers across the state.
In 2008, Lincoln County Master Gardener Bill Biernacki his garden-scale method to extend the growing season on the Oregon coast, via a Raised Bed Cloche. Biernacki collaborated with Extension Sam Angima (now an Associate Dean in the College of Agriculture) to write a publication teaching others how to build their own raised bed cloche. Their method has been adopted by gardeners in challenging climates, across the state.
In Marion County, Master Gardener Jim Liskey designed and refined a drip irrigation system for the Marion County demonstration garden, as a way to show others how to increase production, decrease weed pressure, and conserve water in raised beds.
In Multnomah County, Master Gardener volunteers built out trellises to show how to grow vining vegetables that would otherwise take up a lot of space in small urban lots. Over the years, the group has also experimented with dry farming vegetables in raised beds, and has recorded and shared the results of their trials.
In Lane County, Master Gardeners have built raised beds, pulley systems, and lowering trellises, to make gardening more accesible to everyone. Their motto is ‘Garden Smarter ~ Not Harder’. And, one of their volunteers is the living embodiment of this motto. Pat Patterson was a member of the very first Master Gardener class, in 1976 in Lane County. Pat continues to grow and share food in her community, and is also just as generous with her wealth of knowledge related to vegetable gardening and adaptive gardening.
Master Gardeners have tested and trialed grafted tomatoes, to see if their increased production merits their increased cost. One of the biggest advocates of grafted vegetables is Harry Olsen, who has developed the ‘Harry Prune Method’ for maximizing tomato production. Harry gardens on a small lot in Salem, Oregon (perhaps less than 0.15 acres?). Even though this is his private home, he operates it like a public demonstration garden, eager to teach anyone who wants to learn how to maximize food production on a small urban lot. In fact, when Mykl Nelson and I were building out the very first accredited Urban Agriculture certificate program in the United States, I had Mykl visit Harry to see his production system and to learn more about his approach.
In addition to demonstrating effective growing techniques, Master Gardeners are also supporting food security in their communities. This has been particularly important in 2020, as concerns about disruptions to global food chains and economic hardship have renewed interest in food gardening.
Master Gardener volunteers really stepped up their efforts to support their communities’ local food systems in 2020. But, *every* year, Master Gardener volunteers do so much to support local food across the state. For example, in 2019, Master Gardener volunteers donated 52.5 TONS of fresh food to local food banks and food pantries, and supported the efforts of gardeners in 29 school gardens, 46 community gardens, and 23 teaching/demonstration gardens. That’s something to be proud of, and something that all Oregonians can applaud!
In a year when we were needed more than ever, Oregon’s Master Gardeners rose to the multiple challenges of 2020 in simply amazing ways. Oregon State University Master Gardener coordinators ~ as well as the Dean of Agriculture and Director of OSU’s Extension Service ~ got together to say a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to all of the Master Gardeners across the state.
This week, we hope that you can join us, to take a bit of time out of your day to reflect upon all of the good that you’ve brought to your community, via your volunteerism and support of gardeners across the state. Join us online for a mini-film festival, statewide address, and beneficial insect trivia, and connect with other Master Gardeners across the state during this weeklong celebration and recognition event.
Because of social distancing limits, we are using Thinkific.com to deliver this online event. When you register for the event, you will get access to all three films. There are also opportunities to register for facilitated conversations (Monday-Wednesday) with the films’ directors, as well as content experts in entomology, urban agriculture, and landscaping. You can also register for annual state of Oregon’s Master Gardener Program address (Thursday), or the beneficial insect trivia event (Friday).
We are really looking forward to the time that we can all gather together to learn, celebrate, and have fun in the Master Gardener program. In the meantime, we hope that you might enjoy this virtual celebration.
In a year when we were needed more than ever, Oregon’s Master Gardeners rose to the multiple challenges of 2020 in simply amazing ways. You made it work and took it online. You stayed connected and identified insects, plants, and soil problems all in new ways. When Oregonians needed advice and education like never before, Master Gardeners were there for them. You’ve even mastered the Zoom goodbye wave and how to unmute. You grew more Oregon gardeners than ever before. It’s time to say thank you!
Celebrate Master Gardener Week October 26-30, 2020
Recognition and celebration of Oregon’s Master Gardener Volunteers
Master Gardeners who’ve engaged in our COVID safety training will recognize the platform (Thinkific) we’re using for Master Gardener Week. It’s an easy-to-use online educational platform and all activities for the week will be accessed from here. When signing up you will be prompted for your county and extension program: please use your appropriate county and “Master Gardener” for extension program. Note: some films and discussion have capacity limits
Celebrate Master Gardener Week Schedule Film Festival During these dates registered participants will have special VIP access to view three films. • October 20 – 27, 2020: The Love Bugs Over the course of 60 years, entomologists Charlie and Lois O’Brien amassed a collection of more than 1 million insects from nearly 70 countries —the largest private collection in the world with a value of $10 million dollars. But as Charlie’s battle with Parkinson’s becomes increasingly pronounced, he and Lois, 90, make the difficult decision to give away their drawers full of iridescent weevils and planthoppers. This humorous and poignant film explores the love of Nature—and the Nature of Love—and what it means to devote oneself completely to both. • October 21-28, 2020: Land Grab: The Movie Land Grab is the story of an eccentric finance mogul’s dream to create the world’s largest urban farm in his hometown of Detroit and the political firestorm he unintentionally ignited by announcing that he would spend $30 million of his own fortune to build this farm in one of the most economically devastated neighborhoods of the bankrupt Motor City. • October 22-29, 2020: Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf After completing a feature documentary on New York’s High Line, award-winning filmmaker Thomas Piper met the inspirational designer and plantsman, Piet Oudolf, and the idea for a new project was born. The documentary, FIVE SEASONS: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf, immerses viewers in Oudolf’s work and takes us inside his creative process, from his beautifully abstract sketches, to theories on beauty, to the ecological implications of his ideas.
After viewing the films, join together via Zoom with the filmmakers and/or local experts for discussion. • October 26, 2020 at 6pm Pacific. Facilitated discussion of The Love Bugs. • October 27, 2020 at 6pm Pacific. Facilitated discussion of Land Grab: The Movie. • October 28, 2020 at 6pm Pacific. Facilitated discussion of The Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf. Note: Pre-registration is required/Zoom webinars have a limit of 500 people.
State of the Statewide Master Gardener Program Address • October 29, 2020 at 6pm Pacific. Join Gail Langellotto for a livestreamed update on the Master Gardener Program in Oregon. The presentation will review recent accomplishments and points of pride, current challenges and opportunities, and an overview of what is to come in 2021. Note: Pre-registration is required/Zoom webinars have a limit of 500 people.
Beneficial Insect Trivia Game and Discussion • October 30, 2020 at 6pm Pacific. Put your insect knowledge to the test with this fun and interactive trivia tournament hosted by OSU’s Klamath County horticulture faculty member Nicole Sanchez. The ultimate gardening edutainment experience! Note: We’ll be using both Zoom and Slido. Pre-registration is required and is limited to 200 people.
Master Gardener Volunteers who were certified in 2019 or 2020 (meaning that they completed required educational and volunteer service hours) can carry over their certification to 2021, and are eligible to receive recertification stickers for their badge. Current Master Gardener certification is required to work in the plant clinic, teach workshops, or write articles on behalf of OSU.
Master Gardener Volunteers are eligible for the 2021 training program, which will be focused on skills building for current Master Gardeners. This includes 2020 students and will be offered at no charge.
What now? What do I need to do to continue as a Master Gardener Volunteer in 2021?
Complete OSU’s required “Conditions of Volunteer Service Form.” Your local Master Gardener Program coordinator distributes and collects forms, each year. Please wait until you receive the notice from your local Master Gardener Program coordinator, to fill out and file your annual paperwork.
Complete 10 hours of continuing education*
Complete 20 hours of volunteer service*
*If limited volunteer activities are available in 2021, as a result of COVID or other factors, this requirement may be suspended.
This past Friday, the Oregon Master Gardener Association (or OMGA) Board of Directors met via Zoom, for the 3rd quarter meeting of 2020. As the OSU Extension Master Gardener Statewide Coordinator, I sit on the OMGA board as an ex-officio and non-voting member and present a report on behalf of OSU.
Normally, OMGA meetings run from 10am – 2:00pm (or longer). However, now that we are meeting via Zoom, meetings are kept to 90 minutes. I thus tried to be extremely brief in this quarterly report, which can be found, below.
Wildfires and the Extension Master Gardener (EMG) Program: Like the rest of OSU Extension, the Master Gardener Program has both been affected by and has been kept busy by the wildfires. Many EMGs were evacuated from their homes for a period of time. There are three EMGS who have lost their homes and/or have experienced substantial property damage: one each in Lincoln, Jackson, and Marion counties. (Please note, that in my original report to the OMGA Board, I incorrectly stated that an EMG in Lane County had lost their property to wildfire. This was incorrect, and I apologize for my mistake.) Please be ready to lend support, when these folks are in a position to take stock of their needs, and how the EMG Program can help. At the same time, EMG faculty and volunteers have been asked a lot of questions about the hazards of ash to edible and ornamental plants in the landscapes. Brooke Edmunds was particularly timely in pushing out messaging and materials related to questions about ash and vegetables, garden plants, and bees. But most (all?) of us have been kept busy by the questions coming in through email, phone, Zoom, and Ask an Expert. I see and appreciate the messaging going out through local EMG social media channels. You were a great source of support for your communities, during a very difficult time.
Staffing and Hires: Andrea Stith will begin working as the Extension Master Gardener Coordinator in Wasco County, beginning sometime in October. She comes to us from the University of Kentucky, and has an extensive background in horticulture and in University Outreach and Extension. The announcement of her hire, can be found below.
OSU Wasco County Extension extends a warm welcome to Andrea Stith
We are excited to announce that Andrea Stith will be joining our OSU Extension team in Wasco County as a Master Gardener and Community Horticulture Outreach Program Coordinator. Prior to joining us Andrea served as a Master Gardener Coordinator with University of Kentucky Extension for 5 years. Andrea has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from Western Kentucky University with a concentration in horticulture and a minor in studio art, and a Master of Science from Murray State University in Agriculture Education. Andrea loves flower and vegetable gardening and is excited to learn from everyone at Oregon State University. We look forward to seeing how Andrea’s applies her diverse skillset to meeting the educational needs of home horticulturists and small acreage landowners in Wasco County.
More Staffing News: We are in the process of interviewing candidates for the EMG coordinator position for the North Coast (Clatsop and Tillamook Counties). During the OSU hiring freeze, it is notable that the Wasco County hire and the North Coast search have moved forward. It represents a very strong endorsement of the value that the Extension Master Gardener Program brings to OSU, during a time when OSU is experiencing serious financial strains due to COVID. This leaves us with one vacancy in Master Gardener Program coverage in the state: Eastern Oregon.
Master Gardener week will be October 26-30,2020. The event will include a Mini-Film Festival (October 26-28), the state of the Statewide Master Gardener Program report (October 29th), and a trivia contest focused on pollinators and beneficial insects (October 30th). An official announcement and link to register will go out, as soon as we finalize the registration page.
The Master Gardener Program has been working on a branding and identity plan that recognizes the individual personalities of county- and region-based Master Gardener program, but also unites us as a statewide program that is a vital part of Oregon State University. As part of this effort, we recently updated our program mission and vision, and have circulated a survey about the program priorities and values. Thank you to all who contributed.
The 2021 Master Gardener annual training program will be open to all current Master Gardener volunteers and all of the trainees from the 2020 training class. The 2021 training will focus on elevating the skills of Master Gardener faculty and staff in four domains: Teaching and Technologies in the Master Gardener Program; Best Practices in Adult, Informal Education; Growing Leadership; Broadening Outreach to Underserved Communities. A survey will be going out to Master Gardener volunteers, to get input on the types of classes that folks would like to see. The training will be delivered online, using a combination of Canvas (OSU’s ECampus learning management system), Zoom, and other methods.
Ourselves: our own work. Looking at our own stories and history including the history of racism in Oregon and the founding stories of land grant institutions. We are looking deep into our field of work including colonization even in the naming of plants. We are learning to acknowledge this has been happening for years and before our time. This work improves our critical consciousness so we’re aware of inequities.
How and who Master Gardeners serve in the community: We’re asking questions like how do we as Master Gardeners serve our communities and neighbors? How far are we reaching into our communities, and who are we missing? Who needs gardening advice, support and education? What do we know and not know?
Systemic within the Master Gardener program: What does it mean to be a Master Gardener and who is the training program designed for? What are the barriers to the program and how can we remove them?
To this end:
We’ve convened a working group of Master Gardener coordinators from different parts of the state to participate in and lead this work;
I’ve had a series of conversations about our work with coordinators across the state in every county where there’s an active Master Gardener program, as well as with coordinators and program leaders in California and Minnesota;
25+ Master Gardener coordinators recently participated in a 3–hour training on equitable leadership;
We are examining and planning ways to include diversity, equity and inclusion in training for all Master Gardener volunteers;
Enacting a series of feedback surveys for Master Gardener volunteers to ensure voices are heard. This includes surveys for feedback on our program’s priorities and values, and upcoming trainings for 2021.
“So with all of this we’ll be done, right?” I think about the best answer for this is in a gardening analogy. A few years back my partner asked me, clearly exhausted, “Aren’t we done with the garden yet?” As I stood there with eyes wide open, I pondered how I was going to break it to her. As gardeners we all know that a garden is never done. It’s an ongoing journey of discovery, setbacks, and amazing results. And a lot of soil building. And so it is with doing the work of diversity, equity and inclusion. We’re in it for the long haul.
2020 has delivered many challenges and Oregon Extension Master Gardeners have risen to meet them. Identifying pest problems, recommending plant options, responding to compost concerns have all gone from in-person discussions to virtual workshops, email, and web based interactions. This has been a tremendous pivot, all while Oregonian’s interests in gardening, and beginner gardeners, have skyrocketed in numbers.
In order to meet the needs of the community and to support our 3,000 active Master Gardeners, we are excited to begin announcing our approach to elevated education in 2021.
Current Master Gardeners (including 2020 trainees) will be offered an innovative new curriculum, online, via a combination of self-paced learning and live webinars and online conversations with OSU experts. Online discussion boards and meeting rooms will be used to foster connectedness, networking, and the exchange of ideas among Master Gardeners across the state. This curriculum will be delivered January – March, 2021, so that Master Gardener volunteers can launch the 2021 gardening season empowered to serve Oregon’s experienced and novice gardeners.
Trainings for new Master Gardeners will occur again in 2022.
What this means for Master Gardeners: • access to top level university training opportunities to connect, learn and grow with others in your local community as well as across the state; • learn how to take the deep well of horticulture knowledge you have and bring it to more people, friends and neighbors through learning new online tools;
What this means for Oregonians; • increased accessibility to OSU Extension Master Gardeners, questions and advice; • a whole wave of new regionally relevant resources to support Oregon’s gardeners; • increased topics of knowledge for growing plants for food, health and wellness;
We will continue to offer our core services to gardeners in local communities, including answering your gardening questions, teaching and demonstrating locally-relevant gardening methods, and supporting locally-driven and delivered garden education opportunities. But we’re also expanding and strengthening our ability to develop and disseminate gardening advice and information in ways that are easily accessible to gardeners of all levels, on their own time, at their own pace, and at no cost.
In the coming week, surveys will be distributed to current Master Gardeners to solicit your thoughts, ideas and priorities for this new 2021 curriculum. We look forward to hearing what’s important to you and your local communities and are excited to work together in 2021. Together, we can grow Oregon’s gardeners.