Autumnal greetings from your fellow Master Gardener volunteers, staff and faculty, participating in the statewide Growing and Belonging committee (formerly known as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce). This is the first of four updates a year we will publish, sharing our work, findings, and resources to help keep you informed—and hopefully engaged— in creating a local Master Gardener program and association experience that is one of growing and belonging.
About that new name…
Growing and belonging is essential to achieving the mission and vision of the OSU Master Gardener Program. We need to grow who we are and who we serve in order to cultivate resilient and healthy communities and expand the reach of science-based gardening practices across Oregon.
For resilient and healthy communities, Oregon needs informed gardeners, and more of them. And just as a healthy garden is biodiverse, so too is a healthy gardening program. This means we seek to attract Oregon gardeners from all counties, backgrounds, ages, races, ethnicities, nationalities, genders, abilities, income levels, renters/homeowners, gardening experience levels, and more.
To attract gardeners of all backgrounds, Master Gardener programs and practices must create an experience of belonging for all participants and potential participants.
Read more about the committee, our name, and why we exist.
What we’re doing in this year’s committee
We are a learning and working community. This means we both participate in trainings and work on projects through our small groups.
The four groups and work focus are:
This group is gathering the different materials used by associations/programs across the state regarding accessibility and DEI, and then creating access to them for others to use or replicate. Also, we’re developing a toolkit for using the new bilingual Grow Your Own publication for outreach and building partnerships with community organizations.
Survey of Master Gardener volunteers
There hasn’t been a demographic survey in over 10 years. This is to provide us with a tool of measurement and set a baseline for gauging our work in growing the MG program.
Seed to Supper
This group plans to develop a partnership toolkit that includes organizations in each county who interact with traditionally underserved and food insecure people. The goals include growing and providing support for the Seed to Supper program taught by MG volunteers, and to provide recommendations in facilitator training (including trauma-informed).
This group is focusing on sharing the work of the group, coordinating events, helping to update the Master Gardener handbook to include messages of growing and belonging, and further building the stories at The Culture of Gardening.
What we’re learning
This summer we participated in a workshop “Dialogue Skills for Conflict and Cooperation.” Facilitated by Jeff Kenney of the Office of Institutional Diversity at OSU, we learned and practiced how to respond in difficult situations, including de-escalation. We explored care strategies of prepare, respond, and restore, and how establishing group norms allows for true dialogue.
Some additional resources you may find helpful:
How can I strengthen my skills in speaking of diversity, equity and inclusion?
How can I help set expectations for civil dialogue in our group?
What did the first year of this committee do?
A guide to Indigenous land acknowledgements
Increasing inclusion in the school garden
Ways for Master Gardener volunteers to help do this work:
• Come to events and share them with others in your group;
• Make the creation of a local project for Martin Luther King’s Day of Service on January 16th. Promote it and engage your fellow volunteers, and the broader community, in participation;
• Participate and encourage participation in surveys you may receive from us;
• Share the information and resources in these updates with others in your group. Talk about them at chapter meetings, including how your local group can learn and adopt the work being done. Let us know what you come up with!