“Inclusive curriculum” working group

This is the fifth and final in a series of posts sharing the work of the first cohort of the Master Gardener Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Taskforce. See overview for general information and background.

In cohort I of the Master Gardener Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion task force, the curriculum subcommittee was tasked with “growing the breadth of the Master Gardener curriculum to incorporate cultural practices and multicultural competencies within the program.” This was a huge endeavor and one that will obviously take more time and resources to fully address than was available to the small group of ~15 people that were part of the curriculum workgroup. Nonetheless, this small but mighty group made amazing process across their year of work and study.

The accomplishments of the curriculum subgroup can be broken down into four categories:

  1. Suggestions related to the redesign of specific classes that are part of the Master Gardener curriculum to include a focus on equity, inclusion, and cultural appreciation. 
  2. Assembling a list of educators who might be invited guest speakers for Master Gardener classes, conferences, or seminar series.
  3. Assembling a library of resources that can inform culturally-specific gardening instruction and education.
  4. Developing a community agreement that enables us to do our best work, achieve our common vision, and serve our community well.

Currently, the resources that the curriculum subgroup developed and assembled are not publically accessible. As we are starting to think about where cohort II of this task force will spend time and energy, one opportunity might be to format and annotate these curricular resources, and posting them on a publicly accessible website, with instructions or suggestions for how to best adopt, adapt, and integrate these resources into Master Gardener classes. In the meantime, we can provide a glimpse into the type of work that the curriculum subgroup completed, across each of the four categories.


Suggestions related to the redesign of specific classes that are part of the Master Gardener curriculum, to include a focus on equity, inclusion and cultural appreciation. 

Group members selected a Master Gardener class topic that they remember, from their own time as a Master Gardener trainee. They made suggestions about different ways that a multi-cultural perspective could be incorporated into the class, and also offered ideas for relevant hands-on activities or field trips.

For example, one task force member suggested that Climate Change should be an integral part of Master Gardener training and that this class could include information that grows an appreciation for how land and resources were managed, before activities of a more populous civilization contributed to global warming. Another opportunity for incorporating concepts of equity into a climate change class would be to include information on the disproportionate impacts that climate change has on marginalized communities, and the role that landscaping plays in reducing risk and harm.

Another task force member suggested re-envisioning the Master Gardener ‘container gardening’ class to instead focus on Gardening in Small Spaces. The class would specifically address the broader group of people who may not think of themselves as gardeners, but nonetheless appreciate and engage with plants. This course would also dispel the myth about needing land to garden.

A third task force member suggested we incorporate excerpts from Robin Wall Kimmerer’s ‘Braiding Sweetgrass’ into a class on Native Plants. Field trips or work parties could focus on native plant conservation and an understanding of the importance of native plants that are gathered during seasonal rounds, to the Northern Paiute people that are now part of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. Other ideas included broadening the Vegetable Gardening class to include instruction on cultural growing practices that may be outside of the peer-reviewed literature.

How Cohort II Could Continue This Work:
One potential task for Cohort II task force members would be to select one or two of these ideas, and formulate them into a lesson plan, that could be adopted and adapted by local counties.


Assembling a list of educators, who might be invited guest speakers for Master Gardener classes, conferences, or seminar series.

Task force members created a list of speakers that are recognized experts in their field, who could broaden our understanding of indigenous seed and food sovereignty, issues and challenges faced by black farmers and naturalists, and the history of plant biology and horticulture through a socio-cultural lens. This is part of an overall effort to diversify the voices and perspectives that we learn from, and that can inform sustainable gardening practices. This effort has been taken up by members of the 2022 Growing Oregon Gardeners: Level Up Webinar Series. For example, Todd Anderson  will be part of the series later this year, and will be teaching us about specialty and culturally relevant vegetables, fruits, and herbs, and how to grow them in Oregon.

How Cohort II Could Continue This Work: Cohort II task force members might continue to grow this list of potential speakers. Also needed are specific guidelines and recommendations related to fair compensation for speakers’ time, knowledge, and talents.


Assembling a library of resources to inform culturally-specific gardening instruction and education.

Cohort I task force members created a repository to archive resources that could help to inform our work to advance culturally-specific gardening instruction and education. Thus far, the most populated resource list is for Indigenous and Native American culture. Resources include a story on Indigenous Crops and Food Traditions, the Confluence Project Library (which contains an amazing richness of resources about Oregon’s Tribes and Tribal Members), a story and interview about Pueblo Farming Methods, and a Michigan State University Extension resource on Native American Vegetables. There is also one article that features Russian vegetable gardening methods.

How Cohort II Could Continue This Work: Cohort II task force members might continue to grow and annotate this list of resources, with an eye on how to make them publically accessible to the other Master Gardener coordinators and volunteers.


Developing a community agreement that enables us to do our best work, achieve our common vision, and serve our community well.

Finally, the curriculum subcommittee developed a community agreement that was an important first step in moving forward with their work. A community agreement is what every person in a group needs from each other and commits to each other in order to feel safe, supported, open, productive and trusting, so that all can do their best work, achieve a common vision, and serve the community well. When thinking about a community agreement, it is important to contrast agreements with the norms and rules that also influence our work.

  • Agreements are an aspiration, or collective vision, for how we want to be in relationship with one another. They are explicitly developed and enforced by the group, not by an external authority, and as such must represent a consensus.
  • Norms are the ways in which we behave and are currently in relationship to each other, whether consciously and explicitly or not.
  • Rules are mandated and enforced by an authority, and do not necessarily reflect the will or buy-in of the group.

Here are the community agreements developed by a working group of the DEI Taskforce in cohort 1. They suggest that we adopt these agreements for our work in cohort 2 of the taskforce.  By participating in this work group, all members agree to the following:

  • I speak for myself: use “I” statements, and do not assume others in the group ascribe to your identity or experience.
  • Intent vs impact: before sharing, consider how what you say will affect others in the group.
  • One speaker at a time: when one person talks, everyone listens. Let people know when you are finished talking.
  • Community wisdom: nobody knows everything, but together we know a lot.
  • Take space and give space: be mindful of how much you’re participating. If you have been quiet, speak up. If you have dominated the conversation, make space for others to participate.
  • Confidentiality: details shared in this space stay here, but what’s learned goes with you.
  • Active participation: it’s better to be open and imperfect than to not participate.
  • Embrace discomfort and expect non-closure. Learning and growth are stressful: hold space for those feelings. 

The community agreement crafted by cohort I task force members aligns with the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences principles and practices for community engagement. One of the benefits of the task force community agreement is that it specifically addresses the unique needs, goals, and working conditions of our group.

How Cohort II Could Continue This Work: Cohort II task force members have an opportunity to officially consider and adopt the community agreement crafted by our colleagues.

“Who we are” working group

This is the fourth in a series of posts sharing the work of the first cohort of the Master Gardener Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Taskforce. See overview for general information and background.

This subgroup was tasked with understanding who becomes a Master Gardener volunteer, and what is the demographic makeup of the Master Gardener community. To do this, they leveraged available data, from surveys that had been completed in Oregon and other states. The largest and most recent survey results were published by Dorn and colleagues (2018), with nearly 7,500 volunteers and more than 300 program coordinators responding from 35 U.S. states. This survey showed a remarkably consistent lack of racial diversity across the program: 94% of state coordinators, local coordinators, and Master Gardener volunteers identified as white. Most coordinators and volunteers (>70%) identified as female, and 64% of volunteers were retired.

The group also utilized a survey of Oregon’s Master Gardener volunteers that was conducted in 2008 by Weston Miller and Gail Langellotto (Langellotto-Rhodaback and Miller, 2012). This survey also referenced demographic data of the Oregon Master Gardener program, collected by McNeilan (1992, unpublished) and Kirsch and VanderZanden (2001). Interestingly, across all survey years (1992, 2001, and 2008), the racial makeup of Oregon’s Master Gardener volunteers was 95% white. However, there was a shift towards older and away from young Master Gardener volunteers across the three surveys. For example, individuals aged 50 and older represented 65%, 71%, and 74% of respondents in 1992, 2001, and 2007, respectively. Similarly, individuals aged 40 and under represented 16%, 7% and 3% of respondents in 1992, 2001 and 2007, respectively. In 1992, male volunteers made up 42% of Oregon’s Extension Master Gardener volunteer base. In 2001 and 2007, the proportion of male volunteers was 26%.

Contemporary Demographic Data is Needed

Although it was useful for the Cohort I members of the ‘Who Becomes a Master Gardener’ working group to review historical data, they clearly recommended that Cohort II consider doing a new, statewide survey to better understand the current makeup of our Master Gardener community. They suggested that the statewide Master Gardener Program provide assistance with this effort, by paying students to help with survey creation and data analysis. The group suggested that it was important to learn about people’s experiences in the programs, and to conduct exit interviews with volunteers, to understand why people leave.


Ultimately, the subgroup noted that survey data (historical and contemporary) will help us to better drive actions on how to proceed to best support an inclusive and welcoming Master Gardener Program.  Data gathered should include quantitative numbers, but also qualitative text that lets folks describe their experiences and perspectives. 

Bias Incident Training Exercise

In an effort to utilize the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences CARE document (Community Agreements), this subgroup also created a series of bias incidence scenarios that were piloted in two Master Gardener training programs. The intention of the learning exercise is to foster and support a welcoming place for Master Gardener volunteers and the community in which Master Gardeners interact. Feedback was extremely positive from the two counties that piloted the learning exercise in 2022.

Moving forward, this subgroup recommended that we broadly distribute the learning exercise and develop a Tool Kit to help local program coordinators and Master Gardener Associations understand how to incorporate the learning exercise into annual Master Gardener training and Master Gardener Association Board meetings or retreats. The tool kit would be filled with the bias incidence learning scenarios, and additional resources and suggestions for supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion in all levels of the Master Gardener Program.

Creating an Inclusive and Welcoming Community

In addition to the great work that the ‘Who Becomes a Master Gardener’ subgroup accomplished, they also left a series of suggestions for Cohort II of the Master Gardener Diversity Equity, and Inclusion Task Force. These include:

  • Communicate to program leaders, local association leadership, and the OMGA to read and share the posts from this blog.  Spread the word that anyone can subscribe to the blog.
  • Establish direct lines of communication with consistent messaging, related to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts and expectations in the Master Gardener Program.
  • Task Force subgroups should share their work with each other, more regularly, to avoid duplication of efforts, and to better support each group’s efforts. We should take and share meeting minutes.
  • Find and support change agents in local communities. These individuals can help ensure the focus of diversity, equity, and inclusion is integrated into various events/programming.  Apply this lens to all aspects of a local county programs and/or associations. Have designated individuals to act as a change agent at meetings, fundraisers, special events/projects, demonstration garden planning, and more.
  • Support a culture of caring, by reserving  time at Master Gardener gatherings or meetings to celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion. Ideas include developing and sharing a land acknowledgement, discussing pronoun use, sharing plants and recipes of cultural significance, sharing information about important upcoming DEI events, or highlighting relevant resources that support an inclusive environment. 
  • The State-wide Master Gardener program, local programs, and/or associations should create a book club focused on topics of diversity, equity and inclusion. This could create a safe space for learning more and discussing literature in a thoughtful manner and considering how this can be applied to MG work. Discussion could be beyond books/literature, such as  a post on the Culture of Gardening blog.
  • Establish and nourish community partnerships that support equity, inclusion and diversity within the Master Gardener Program and the community. Reach out to other community groups to partner and learn from. Learn from their experience and learn the gritty details needed to establish trust and true partnership. Cohort II could consider adding to the ‘tool kit’ guidance on how to reach out to community organizations, questions to ask, things to consider for mutually supportive relationships. 
  • Recognize good diversity, equity, and inclusion work within the Master Gardener Program. Perhaps the state Master Gardener program or the OMGA could incorporate this type of recognition in their annual awards.
  • Develop resources to support Master Gardener associations in making such changes.  

And the final advice from this Cohort I subcommittee, as Cohort II begins their work:

Stay committed

“There is much work to be done. Maintain dialog. Keep at it. Even when things are uncomfortable, continue forward. Being able to talk about uncomfortable things is important. The experience of doing this work and being part of the cohort is valuable, and we are grateful that you are taking up the charge.”

Master Gardener DEI Taskforce Cohort 1 to Cohort 2

“Who we serve” working group

This is the third in a series of posts sharing the work of the first cohort of the Master Gardener Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce. See overview for general information and background. 

This working group identified the need to establish a baseline of who benefits from the services of the Master Gardener Program, and to identify underserved communities. This group also assessed current perceptions or attitudes of diversity, equity and inclusion within Oregon’s Master Gardener community.

Establish a baseline of current work and perceptions

In December of 2021, a survey was conducted with 202 faculty, MG Associations, and DEI Taskforce members. Half of the respondents were from association boards.  

Survey results

What are we currently doing
The program primarily provides educational information to the public with plant clinics, and in-person events or workshops. For implementing outreach to underserved communities, plant clinics and community gardens were perceived as our best current work.  

What we need to do better
When implementing outreach to diverse communities, the main challenge cited was a lack of clear strategies, guidance, knowledge, and training. Respondents identified the need for examples or case studies and training for reaching diverse groups. In addition, the lack of volunteers to do the work, COVID, and volunteers resistant to change was also cited. There is a perceived lack of diversity in local communities (which experts refer to as ‘hidden diversity’), and a lack of Spanish-language gardening materials. It was noted that it takes time and consistent effort to establish trust and relationships. With a high turnover of volunteers and staff, relationships that may have just started to form are lost, when the people in the program leave.  

Overall perception of DEI
While overall perception of DEI work was positive, there was also a negative perception about the work in general, specifically from some MG Associations and some members of MG Associations. Some groups failed to see the connection between gardening and DEI work, or the potential for gardening to benefit diverse communities across Oregon. It is important to point out, however, that the Oregon Master Gardener Association (OMGA) has prioritized DEI for the 2022 calendar year. 

Perception and needs for the DEI Taskforce
The DEI taskforce was cited as providing needed and valuable work, and members learned a great deal from their participation. While there is an understanding that the work takes time, more communication about DEI is needed across the state. Recommendations specifically made to the MG taskforce included: developing case studies, providing training (including relevant scenarios), and offering guidance. In addition, the MG DEI Taskforce should Increase communication with MG Associations, and better define what diversity is in the program, for Associations and Extension MG volunteers.  

Who are our community partners?
Respondents identified the names of community partners the Master Gardener program has worked with over the last three years. This list of 166 organizations includes those with which we have both formal and informal agreements. They include: ·     

  • City, regional, county, and state government, including health departments, park districts, and Soil and Water Conservation Districts
  • Food banks
  • Libraries
  • Schools and Colleges
  • Correctional facilities (adult and juvenile)
  • Nonprofit organizations, including environment, advocacy, and builders
  • Tribes
  • Gardens and plant clubs
  • Centers and/or homes serving veterans, children, and older adults
  • Boys and Girls Clubs
  • Churches
  • Media

Events and communications working group

This is the second in a series of posts sharing the work of the first cohort of the Master Gardener Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce. See overview for general information and background. 

Celebrating and centering diversity, equity and inclusion was the focus of this working group. They identified areas to raise the recognition of DEI by communicating through events, highlighting the diversity of gardeners, and celebrating themes of inclusion and equity in our social media.

While most of the work of the other working groups was behind the scenes, the work in this committee was public-facing. It recognized the importance of consistently communicating the program’s recognition, celebration, and representation of diversity among gardeners.  

Events

Movie: Gather, followed by a discussion with Dr. Samantha Chisholm Hatfield and Dr. David Lewis (online). Attended live by 1,100. 

Movie: The Ants and the Grasshopper, followed by a discussion with Vivek Shandas (online). Attended live by 500.Talk:

Abra Lee talk, “The future is in our hands.” (online). Attended live by 600.  

Project: The Culture of Gardening

Gardening provides a safe space for reflection, a connection to heritage, and a celebration of identity. But popular culture and the horticultural industry have historically left many voices out. The Culture of Gardening storytelling initiative creates a space for all to feel seen and heard — and share the experiences that mean the most to them. Created in April 2021 through the OSU Extension Master Gardener DEI Taskforce, the Culture of Gardening is a collection of personal stories gathered through interviews by a small team of Master Gardener faculty and volunteers, presented as an OSU Extension blog, and then distributed through social media. Each story is shared in the interviewee’s exact words to preserve authenticity. Topics include gardening as a source of healing, foods passed on from generation to generation, family history, connection to community, and more.  The goals for the project include amplifying diverse voices in gardening and highlighting cultural connections to growing a plant. The work demonstrates and centers on the importance of gardeners and gardening to connect inter-and cross-culturally and to honor and attract a more diverse group of Master Gardener volunteers. The project demonstrates “diversity in action.”  Some posts include recipes used in the preparation of food grown in the gardens, ranging from a grandmother’s gyoza recipe using homegrown Nira, to raita made with homegrown cucumbers.  Short quotes from the full stories shared on the blog are posted in social media, along with photos, linking to the full stories on the blog.  

The stories we share in the Master Gardener program are an important representation of who is seen as gardeners in the community: these stories ensure representation of a vital and growing demographic of gardeners connecting to themselves, community, culture, and ancestors, all through the beauty of gardening.  

  • Website: 18 posts, 1,552 views, 866
  • Facebook: each post reaches approx. 5,500 and engages 150-500. The current reach is 168,000. 8 posts have been made on Facebook.
  • Instagram: The current reach on Instagram is 8,700. Additional posts are made to Stories, and one Instagram Live event was broadcast. 

This is an ongoing project, engaging volunteers, faculty, and staff in sharing these stories. It was identified as a major example of diverse representation in OSU Extension communications. In addition, it was featured in OSU Office of Institutional Diversity’s magazine Taking Action, a publication that aims to highlight the rich diversity of equity work at the university. 

Heritage months and identity recognitions

Celebrating the history and contributions of historically marginalized identities offers the opportunity for our community of gardeners to learn more about the people, traditions, history, and current experiences within our communities. A calendar was created and adopted to communicate through the year in our social media channels. These include months celebrating Black history (February), women’s history (March), Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage (May), Pride (June), Hispanic heritage, and Native American heritage (November). Social media posts were published, generating celebration and discussion, and many expressed gratitude for the recognition. 

This is the second in a series of posts sharing the work of the first cohort of the Master Gardener Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce. See overview for general information and background. 

Year 1 Overview: Master Gardener Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce

The first cohort of the OSU Extension Master Gardener Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force wrapped up its work this past February, after a year of learning opportunities, organizational self-study, action items, and recommendations. One key recommendation that was offered to cohort II of the Task Force, by the 34 active members of the original group, was to communicate progress and priorities out to the broader Master Gardener community. This post is the first in a series that will do just that. Over the next few days, we’ll provide an update on the outcomes and recommendations that emerged from the four subgroups of cohort I of the taskforce. The schedule for this series is:

Diversity, equity, and inclusion work within the Master Gardener program started a few years before the first meeting of the Task Force. In 2017, based upon recommendations that emerged from an annual meeting of OSU Extension Master Gardener Coordinators, a subgroup was formed to answer this question: 

“How can we re-envision Master Gardener volunteer training to make annual trainings a) more broadly accessible, b) more active and interactive, and c) more fun?”

Two Master Gardener volunteers, two Master Gardener program coordinators, and the statewide coordinator worked together to read, study, query colleagues, analyze results, and thoughtfully discuss how to meet the three points outlined in the questions above. This group, called  CHAP, for Community Horticulture Advisory Panel, took the time to intensely study each of these points, and make recommendations to the broader Master Gardener program.

An Overview of OSU Extension Master Gardener Efforts related to DEI

The Beginnings: CHAP

The CHAP model began in 2014, when the Master Gardener Coordinators working group changed the decision-making process from one of consensus-based decision making to the CHAP model. Folks who signed up to work on a CHAP committee were tasked with taking the time to intensely review and consider an issue affecting the Master Gardener Program. CHAP would make recommendations, based upon careful consideration and review. The Master Gardener Coordinators working group would vote on the CHAP recommendations, with majority rule. This model emerged, because many working group members were over-extended, and often unable to commit the time and energy needed to carefully study an issue, before coming to a decision. Prior to focusing on annual Master Gardener trainings, previous CHAP committees made recommendations related to the types of activities that would qualify for Master Gardener service hours or continuing education hours. The first CHAP committee also recommended recognizing certified Master Gardener volunteers on their badges, which is where the stickers came from!

The 2017-2018 iteration of CHAP developed several recommendations related to making annual Master Gardener training more broadly accessible, interactive, and fun. Research confirmed what had long been suspected: 3-hour lectures do NOT represent research-based best practices for adult learners. Several of the recommendations focused on removing systemic barriers to participation in the program, such as reducing the cost of classes, reducing the volunteer service hour commitment, and providing flexible options for engaging with the program such as a hybrid online/in-person training option. Several years later, the 2022 Master Gardener training season adopted a hybrid training approach that enabled many folks to participate in the program, that otherwise would have been locked out.

Having the Master Gardener program available online has helped me easily fit the coursework into my other obligations like working full-time. I’ve loved being able to nurture my gardening knowledge in my own time, getting myself prepared for in-person volunteering this spring!”

—Mary P., 2022 Master Gardener trainee

The work to increase access and inclusion continued into 2019 when the Master Gardener Coordinators working group convened in Seaside, Oregon for two days to discuss the programmatic mission and vision. Two members of the Oregon Master Gardener Association leadership also participated in these discussions. This group fine-tuned the program’s mission and developed a programmatic vision that focused on access and equity. The focus on mission and vision was important, as these items serve as a north star and compass when determining where to invest time and effort amidst a landscape of extensive need and limited resources. In 2020, the work continued by solidifying the program priorities and values.

Today: Master Gardener Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force

In 2020, the program’s focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion became more public-facing, with the first blog post about racial and social justice, and reading recommendations received from Master Gardener volunteers in June of 2020. In January of 2021,  an open discussion, reflecting on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was held, and the commitment to convening a task force of Master Gardener volunteers and coordinators was born. 

Across the next week, we hope you will take the time to read about the work, outcomes, and recommendations of the four workgroups that comprised the first cohort of the task force. We welcome your ideas and thoughts, and how you are working within your local Master Gardener group to make this work come alive within your community. 

Tomorrow: Events & Communications, The work of the Master Gardener Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce, Cohort 1.

Buy Plants = Support Gardening Education!

Photos courtesy of Incredible Edibles plant sale, Portland

We’re back! Master Gardener association plant sale season is here!

19 Master Gardener associations across Oregon are organizing plant sales, which means it’s likely you have access to some of the best plants suited for your region.

When you buy plants from Master Gardener associations, you’re helping to support gardening education of the OSU Extension Master Gardener program in your area. Veggies? We’ve got you.

Annuals? We’ve got you.

Native plants? Yep.

Find a plant sale near you with the listing on our website. See you at a plant sale soon!

2022 County and Statewide Master Gardeners of the Year: Online Nominations

The Statewide and County Master Gardener of the Year awards are due May 15th. Please submit your nominations, online, via this online form:

https://oregonstate.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cZVockHZoBglwyO

Note that there is a character limit to nomination fields. Since we print posters (displayed at Mini-College) and develop a press release for Master Gardener award winners, the character limit helps nominators (and us) to focus on the details that we should highlight about each nominee.

Nominations should be crafted and submitted in close consultation and collaboration with your Master Gardener Chapter Board (if your county has one) and your Master Gardener Coordinator.

March is Women’s History Month: A message from Celina Ratliff, Clackamas County Master Gardener

Dear Fellow Master Gardeners,

Recognizing National Women’s History Month during the month of March, I invite you to explore these articles and videos highlighting gardening and landscaping accomplishments by women. The actions of these courageous females help pave the way for us, our granddaughters, and future generations. One of my favorites, Indigenous Spirituality inside Oregon Prisons is educational, inspirational, and thought-provoking. I shared the online video with others, creating meaningful dialogue about spirituality and inclusion. I encourage you to do the same. I invite you to select at least one article or video that touches your heart and share it with others.

Lastly, for fun, check out the two videos highlighting easy yoga exercises specifically designed for us…gardeners! Happy Spring gardening!

Cheers,
Celina Ratliff
Clackamas County Master Gardener | Statewide Master Gardener DEI Taskforce member


The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball – the further I am rolled the more I gain.
—Susan B. Anthony


Women Making a Difference Yesterday & Today: Celebrating Women’s History Month

Timeline of Women’s History in American Gardens 1858 – 2009↗
Browse selected moments and movements in which American women have used plants, gardens, and landscapes for power, advocacy, and change.

Eight Women to Know in Horticulture History↗
Women from all backgrounds and interests have shaped the course of American gardens. 

Garden design was a man’s world in the early 1900s. Learn how a few women landscape architects determined to practice in their chosen careers slowly made their way into the field. This short video is from Smithsonian Gardens.

Check out the #HorticultureHERstory hashtag on Smithsonian Gardens’ Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more tales of groundbreaking women!

Photographers Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952) and Mattie Edwards Hewitt (1869-1956), separately and together as working partners, captured thousands of images of gardens and architecture around the country during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This video provides insight into how the Planting Fields Foundation archives are specifically informing landscape restoration plans, by showcasing a number of images by Mattie Edwards Hewitt that show the site in its prime circa 1925.

Garden Clubs of the Early 20th Century
Garden clubs of the early to mid-20th century were about more than just planting and socializing: they were an important force that brought women together to make change. Women’s clubs were one of the few means by which women could effectively exercise social power before universal suffrage.

Women’s Wartime Gardens
This collection highlights the history of how America confronted the rapid food shortages during World War I and World War II, primarily the role of women in sustaining the U.S’ food source.

Gardening for the Common Good

The Earth in Her Hands: Jamaica Kincaid in Conversation with Jennifer Jewell I New York Botanical Garden

Listen to celebrated author and avid gardener Jamaica Kincaid discuss one of her greatest loves, when she joins public radio host Jennifer Jewell for a riveting conversation about gardens, the plants that fill them, and the extraordinary women who tend them.

Landscape Architects, Two Oregon Women Laid the Groundwork for Many of the Northwest’s Enduring Gardens I OregonLive
The scenery has improved in the century since Elizabeth Lord and Edith Schryver founded the first landscape architecture firm owned and operated by women in the Pacific Northwest.

Elizabeth Lord (1887-1976) and Edith Schryver (1901-1984) formed Lord & Schryver in 1929, the First Firm of Women Landscape Architects in the Pacific Northwest. 

Indigenous Spirituality inside Oregon Prisons I OPB

In 1978 the American Indian Religious Freedom Act allowed Native Americans to practice spirituality in the open. This inspirational video highlights what female leaders are doing to enhance spirituality practices in Oregon prisons, including gathering and serving sacred foods from the earth.

Oregon Garden Yoga↗
Interview and stretching tips for gardeners.

Yoga for Gardeners↗
This all-level holistic practice is for everyone! Suited perfectly for the actual gardener, but also designed for the metaphorical gardener within each of us.

Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and Urban Greenspace

Note: this article was originally written for the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon (HPSO) Quarterly Magazine (spring 2022 issue). The wonderful team at the HPSO, especially Eloise Morgan, provided copy editing assistance on this article.


To observe Oregon State University’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, the Master Gardener Program hosted a screening of the movie ‘The Ants and the Grasshopper’. The movie follows Anita Chitaya, as she travels from her home in Malawi, to farms and gardens across the United States to share her story of how climate change is impacting her village. Afterwards, Dr. Vivek Shandas of Portland State University joined us to discuss the intersection of historical racism, landscaping and greenspace, and environmental justice.

When Anita Chitaya was asked what Americans can do to help the people in Malawi, she responded that she wanted people to talk about climate change and tell people about the plight of her village. Her response struck me for three reasons. First, she could have asked for many different things, such as money or advocacy. Instead, she thought it most important to talk about climate change. She, like many of you, saw great value in spreading knowledge. Second, after considering Anita Chitaya’s request, I realized that I don’t personally talk about climate change, outside of my classes. The scientific study of climate change has firmly established that human-caused climate change is happening, is accelerating at an unprecedented rate, and represents a danger to the life as we know it on earth (IPCC, 2021). I firmly believe that climate change is the one of the most important issues of our time, and I regularly worry about the world that my grandchildren will inherit. Yet I still feel shy to broach the subject with friends and family. Finally, Anita Chitaya was working to amplify the voice and concerns of those most affected by climate change. And, the movie made it quite clear that those most affected by climate change often hold the least power. This is something that Dr. Jeremy Hoffman of The Science Museum of Virginia and Dr. Vivek Shandas of Portland State University have studied in cities across the United States. And their work has direct connections to landscaping and gardening, as well as to historical racism and segregationist policies.

Together with Nicholas Pendleton, Drs. Hoffman and Shandas looked at 108 cities across the United States (Hoffman et al. 2020). For each city, they looked at historical Home Owner’s Loan Corporation (HOLC) maps from the 1930s, to see which neighborhoods had been ‘redlined’. Redlining is the historical practice of refusing loans or insurance to entire neighborhoods, based upon racially motivated perceptions about risk of investment. HOLC maps categorized neighborhoods from “Best” (A neighborhoods, outlined in green), “Still Desirable” (B neighborhoods, outlined in blue), “Definitely Declining” (C neighborhoods, outlined in yellow), and “Hazardous” (D neighborhoods, outlined in red).

After defining the historical boundaries of the A, B, C, and D HOLC neighborhoods, the scientists generated Land Surface Temperature maps (LST maps) using publically available Landsat imagery. The LST maps were based upon Landsat data for summer months (June – August) of 2014 through 2017, when cloud cover was less than 10 percent. The resolution of the LST maps was fairly course (30 meters by 30 meters), but nonetheless provided data on neighborhood- and city-scale patterns of modern-day heat.

A HOLC  map for Portland Oregon, circa 1938. Green areas were rated ‘A’ or ‘Best’. Blue areas were rated ‘B’ or ‘Still Desirable’. Yellow areas were rated ‘C’ or ‘Definitely Declining’. Red areas were rated ‘D’ or ‘Hazardous’. Creative Commons License. Original Source: Robert K. Nelson, LaDale Winling, Richard Marciano, Nathan Connolly, et al., “Mapping Inequality,” American Panorama
, ed. Robert K. Nelson and Edward L. Ayers, accessed February 7, 2022, https://dsl.richmond.edu/panorama/redlining/

What they found was astonishing: 94% of the cities they examined had city-scale patterns of extreme heat in historically redlined areas. Let me put this another way: 80 years had passed between the HOLC maps and the LST maps that they used as data for this study and 50 years had passed since the Fair Housing Act of 1968 was passed to stop the practice of redlining. Yet, these neighborhoods still bore the signature of historical racism, in the form of urban heat. Notably, the largest modern-day difference between “D” and “A” neighborhoods was found in Portland, Oregon. On average, neighborhoods that had been classified as “D” in the 1930s were 13 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than neighborhoods that had been classified as “A”. Nationally, historical “D” neighborhoods were 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than “A” neighborhoods.

What could account for these differences in temperature? First, historical “D” neighborhoods lacked tree canopy cover, parks, gardens and other greenspaces and green infrastructure that can help to naturally cool a city. This is consistent with the historical disinvestment in redlined neighborhoods. Not only were loans and insurance withheld, but when trees were removed due to damage and disease, they were often not replanted. In addition, redlined neighborhoods were also the most likely to be developed. Residents in these neighborhoods often lacked the social capitol needed to successfully protest the loss of a public garden or park, or to fight a new road or highway. This meant that these areas, over time, were more likely to be paved, and less likely to have trees.

I asked Dr. Shandas, during our discussion following the film, how gardeners and landscapers can promote social justice and fight environmental racism through our work. He responded that urban greening and tree planting initiatives seem and obvious answer, but that they need to be planned and executed in close consultation with community members most affected by urban heat. Perhaps not surprisingly, these community members are often the most vulnerable to extreme weather and climate change, including the homeless or those in rental or federally subsidized housing and without easy access to air conditioning. For a good example of an effort to work closely with local communities to increase trees and greenspace in historically redlined neighborhoods, you can visit Dr. Hoffman’s ‘Throwing Shade in RVA’ website (Hoffman, n.d.).

Urban forests, such as the trees that provide beauty and shade on the Corvallis campus of Oregon State University, are important assets for moderating urban heat and integral to building and maintaining sustainable cities. Photo Credit: Gail Langellotto

I don’t purport to have great solutions or answers to heavy issues such as climate change, environmental justice, or historical and systemic racism. But, I take inspiration from the direction provided by Anita Chitaya, and I am working to become more comfortable talking about climate change. I’m also taking inspiration from the direction given by Dr. Shandas, and am trying to grow my service to community partners in a way that focuses on listening, learning, and following their direction. I also think that it is interesting to note how gardens, trees, and greenspace play a central role in who is exposed to versus protected from urban, extreme heat. As gardeners, these aren’t often issues that we consider or contend with. But, the Master Gardener program is focused on the science of gardens and other greenspaces, and Drs. Hoffman and Shandas have provided compelling evidence of the research-basis of patterns that we might not notice or that we take for granted in cities and neighborhoods across the U.S.


Hoffman, J.S. No Date. Throwing shade in RVA. http://jeremyscotthoffman.com/throwing-shade, Accessed February 1, 2022.

Hoffman, J.S.; Shandas, V.; Pendleton, N. 2020. The Effects of Historical Housing Policies on Resident Exposure to Intra-Urban Heat: A Study of 108 US Urban Areas. Climate 8, 12. https://doi.org/10.3390/cli8010012

IPPC 2021. Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-working-group-i/

Meet OSU’s Newest Extension Master Gardener Faculty and Staff

Laurie Lee Bartlett

Laurie Lee Bartlett is the new Educational Assistant at the Curry Extension Office. She is looking forward to taking the Coos/Curry Hybrid Master Gardener class for 2022! As an educator and previous caretaker to her now grown son, she is starting the next chapter of her life with a desire to serve others. This includes reaching out to everyone who wants to learn more about home horticulture. Her family enjoys practicing sustainable gardening on their acre of land and taking care of goats and chickens. This winter she has been expanding her collection of air plants and orchids which she houses in her sunroom and office. Laurie is grateful for the opportunity to be part of the OSU community!

Amanda Woodlee

Amanda Woodlee is the Master Gardener program coordinator (EPA 2) for Umatilla County, based in Hermiston, Oregon. This position enables her to combine two of her longtime passions: gardening and education. Prior to coming to work for OSU, she enjoyed putting together an annual seed share and gardening expo for her local garden club, where she would talk to attendees about pollinators and compost and all things green. She is excited to apply that same passion and skill to developing, organizing, and enhancing Master Gardener events. When she’s not in her greenhouse or bringing up worms randomly in a conversation, she can usually be found with her nose in a seed catalog or a book, writing (with her garden and two bird feeders in sight from her desk), or studying languages (currently Spanish, French, and ASL). Her favorite thing to grow is the Pruden’s Purple heirloom tomato, and the best book she read recently is Alix E. Harrow’s The Once and Future Witches.

Evie Smith

Evie Smith is the new Master Gardeners (25%) and Small Farm (75%) Coordinator for OSU
Extension in Lincoln County. She is coming to OSU Extension from the University of California Cooperative Extension, where she worked in orchard crop research. In the past, she has worked in several different agricultural systems including mixed vegetable production, aquaponics and coffee. She has several years of experience working in a large mixed vegetable garden that donated everything it produced to the local food bank. She was involved in both volunteer coordination and agricultural management at the garden. She also worked on home gardening initiatives and small-scale agriculture projects in a variety of agricultural contexts in the southeastern United States (where she’s from originally), Guatemala, Cambodia, India and California. An avid gardener herself, Evie looks forward to learning about gardening in Oregon, and to using her experiences with volunteer coordination, gardening initiatives, and extension to support the work of the Master Gardeners in Lincoln County! In her spare time, Evie loves to hike, camp, and cook.

Jennifer Halter

Jenifer Halter has worked as a front desk Office Specialist for Washington County Extension since May 2016.  She was excited to join the metro area Master Gardener team as part of her duties in October 2021.  She always assisted MGs in the office, especially those working the phone helpline, an aspect of the job she loved.  Jenifer is thrilled to work more with this great group and our exceptional volunteers.  She tries to attend MG workshops and visit garden events when she’s able.  After going to a Fall seed saving workshop at Jenkins Estate (Beaverton, OR) she aimed to grow more of her own garden plants from saved seeds.  In 2021, almost all of her tomatoes were grown from previous year’s seeds!  She recalled, “That workshop was so memorable and useful!”  It was led by Washington County MG, Sarah Gramm Wolff, a volunteer at the OSU Extension Learning Garden at Jenkins Estate.  Jenifer’s forester father instilled in her a love of nature, and she enjoys hiking, berry picking (especially huckleberries), doing yard work, biking local trails, and catching sunrises and sunsets.   She looks forward to learning and helping MGs more in 2022!

Erika Szonntag

Erika Szonntag serves Jackson County in southwestern Oregon.  Forty percent of her time is dedicated to managing the Master Gardener Volunteer Program, while another forty percent is dedicated to developing programming and otherwise disseminating information to the community on topics of home horticulture.  Erika is really looking forward to supporting all the great work the Jackson County Master Gardeners are doing, including expanding their educational reach around native plants. 

Before coming to Oregon, Erika was a professional gardener in Colorado while finishing her master’s degree in agriculture and watershed science.  Erika also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay (2014-2016) in agriculture extension.  In her free time, Erika loves to hike and trail run with her dogs, mountain bike, paint and draw, and play in the snow.  Her favorite things to grow in the garden are any type of salad green and sunflowers.  She wishes she were better at growing root vegetables!  

Brooke Edmunds

Brooke Edmunds recently transferred to oversee the Master Gardener Programs in Marion and Polk Counties in July 2021. She has been with OSU Extension since 2014 and previously was in the same position in Linn and Benton Counties. Brooke is an Associate Professor (Practice) of Community Horticulture with a home in the OSU Department of Horticulture. Her background is in plant pathology (M.S. and Ph.D) so you’ll find her nerding out over cool diseases and insects in the garden. In addition to coordinating the Master Gardener volunteer programs in both counties, Brooke contributes to statewide programs related to food gardening (Grow This! Champions and Microgreens are two current projects), and develops online educational material for the OSU Extension website. It’s an exciting time for the OSU Master Gardener Program and Brooke is excited to try out a new flexible format that includes hands-on garden based learning. Brooke’s personal gardening goals for this year are to try growing winged beans (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus) and to install a new trellis planted with Passiflora.

Danielle Knueppel

Danielle is located at the Josephine County Extension Office in Grants Pass and divides her time equally between the Master Gardener Program and the Small Farms Program. Danielle’s experience in horticulture includes farming at an organic fresh-cut herbs farm in Colorado, maintaining gardens alongside volunteers at the Cheyenne Botanical Garden, and working as a grower at greenhouses and nurseries in Colorado and Indiana, where she grew up. Before joining OSU, she worked internationally for several years on programs to improve livelihoods and food security among smallholder farmers. Danielle loves to garden and is excited to show new gardeners how fun, easy, and tasty it can be to grow your own vegetables, herbs, and fruits.