Joe’s story: gardening helps everyone’s physical, mental and spiritual health.

Joe Hodge at a community event, photo by Amanda Woodlee

“I became a Master Gardener to learn to rid my pumpkins and squash of squash bugs. My desire to get the most of my veggies seemed right in line with the Master Gardener program. What I have learned is that you have to have fun in the garden, even making challenging things into a game – turning the squash bug mission into ‘seek and destroy’ can actually be fun. Yes, I’m a little crazy, and my opinion is that most good master gardeners are also.
My most proud moment as a Master Gardener was when an article about my gardening career went into the East Oregonian local paper shortly after I received County Master Gardener of the Year award. My mother, who has dementia, was a daughter of an expert gardener whose gardening skills helped them make it through the Depression. Mom still has enough mental capacity to process a newspaper story, and enough love to express to me how proud her Dad would be. Hopefully, I have enough generosity to give to my sons what my parents have given me.
Seed to Supper is so important because the skills it teaches are so beneficial for everyone’s physical, mental, and spiritual health. Physically, gardeners stay in shape in the garden. Mentally, you have to use math and science in planning out your garden – your brain can get a good workout. Spiritually, the feeling of giving away fresh vegetables to friends and family is as uplifting as any I know. The Seed to Supper course I’m helping teach now is about 3/4 full of beginning gardeners. If we can teach these folks to embrace gardening, we’ve not only given them an activity they can be happy with, but we will have improved their health immensely. The Seed to Supper course is the most valuable class happening in my town now, by far.”

This is but one of the many stories of the OSU Extension Master Gardener program we’re sharing this month in honor of Dam Proud Day. On April 26, Beavers everywhere will come together to support the things we do best: transformative educational experiences and life-changing research.
We are excited to be raising support specifically for our Seed to Supper program and updating our foundational resource, the “Sustainable Gardening Handbook” to reflect current knowledge. Please join us in gathering your friends and colleagues to give to support the Master Gardener Program on Dam Proud Day, at any donation level. See you (online) April 26th!

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