Elevated Skills Training for Current Master Gardener Volunteers is ready for you

We’re excited to offer this new series of 15 trainings for existing Master Gardener Volunteers (including 2020 trainees). Registration is open and you may sign up for as many classes as you like. (Please note that, even though registration is currently open for all classes, that each course will ‘open’ and become available, across a 10-week period.)

Overview of 2021 Elevated MG Skills Training and the Learning Platform Thinkific
This class is required pre-requisite for any other course in this series. Get to know the format we’re using for this series, how classes are set up and how to navigate through them, and where to turn with questions.
ENROLL HERE

Zoom Basics
Opens January 29th
Zoom is Oregon State University’s official video conferencing platform, and is currently used by Extension Master Gardener faculty, staff, and clients for online meetings, events, and webinars. This module will cover the Basics of Zoom, and is aimed at current Master Gardener volunteers who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with Zoom. Zoom Basics will cover what you need to know to be a participant in a Zoom meeting or webinar.
REGISTER HERE

Advanced Zoom
Opens January 29th
Advanced Zoom is aimed at current Master Gardener volunteers who want to step up their Zoom capabilities, by hosting interactive meetings, serving as a session moderator for your Master Gardener chapter’s virtual conference or monthly speaker series, or serving as presenter of gardening information during a webinar or other gardening event.
REGISTER HERE

iNaturalist for Master Gardener Volunteers
Opens February 6th
iNaturalist is one of the world’s most popular nature apps. This class will help you engage with the iNaturalist community, connect with other gardeners on our iNaturalist project page, and learn to identify the wild plants and animals around you, Although iNaturalist can be used to identify a broad diversity of organisms, this particular class will focus on insects and wild plants.
Note: if you are interested in taking this class to learn to identify insects, and will be using a cell phone to take and upload images to iNaturalist, you may want to consider purchasing an inexpensive macro lens that can help you capture better images of small insects.
REGISTER HERE

Garden Woody Plant ID with the OSU Landscape Plants Database
Opens February 5th
Plant identification is vital for a variety of things, from ensuring your garden thrives to helping clients at the Plant Clinic figure out what plant they are working with. This module will introduce you to the OSU Landscape Plants Database. We’ll go through the database together to learn how you can use this simple but very effective tool for identifying woody plants in your landscape, or those of clients.
REGISTER HERE

Best Practices for Online Plant Clinic
Opens February 12th
As a Master Gardener volunteer or trainee, you’re familiar with the role and function of in-person plant clinic. Your county may have recently adopted or may be in the process of adopting an online or remote plant clinic. In this online environment, some may find it challenging to research problems and communicate with clients and fellow volunteers. In this short course, you will gain knowledge and skills that connect your existing plant clinic skills to tools in your county’s online plant clinic. This course is suitable for all levels of experience with plant clinic.
REGISTER HERE

Learning How to Use the Extension Client Contact Online (ECCO) Tool in Plant Clinic
Opens February 12th
In this course you will learn how to use the Extension Client Contact Online (ECCO) tool, an online record keeping tool and database for your plant clinic clients. This module will cover how to set up a login, how to enter a new client’s information and their question(s), and how to use the database to search out clients, or specific questions using filters such as plant name, keyword or questions topic. Additionally, this tool has a built in guide that can help improve your skill set in diagnosing plant damage.
REGISTER HERE

Taking Your Master Gardener Social Media to the Next Level
Opens February 19th
Social media offers many opportunities for OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers to promote and share local events and meetings, but it also can connect gardeners in your region to a plethora of resources and is a great form of community building. In this course we’ll go deeper into how to use Facebook to connect with broader audiences, and we’ll tap into Instagram and even Nextdoor. We’ll identify how to enact the great skills we have in-person with the public to social networking platforms, and how to work as teams with other Master Gardener volunteers to coordinate your efforts. Maybe you’ll be the next big influencer!
REGISTER HERE

Best Practices in Youth Gardening Programs
Opens February 26th
As a Master Gardener volunteer, you will have the opportunity to work with youth in the garden. This module will cover the basics of Oregon State University’s Youth Safety & Guidelines, youth developmental stages, understand your role in building partnerships with youth, and develop garden-based education activities according to youth’s developmental stages. This short module is suitable for all Gardener volunteers with or without experience working with youth.
REGISTER HERE

Superpower Your Educational Garden
Opens February 26th
This module is designed to inspire! We’ll be showcasing innovative educational outreach happening in educational gardens across the state (and beyond). We will share ideas for online outreach strategies to boost engagement with your demonstration/learning gardens and/or community gardens. Plus we’ll explore best practices to create engaging garden learning opportunities for both seasoned and newer Master Gardener volunteers. This module is organized by Brooke Edmunds (Extension Horticulturalist in Linn and Benton Counties) and Marcia McIntyre (Program Representative in the Portland metro area) and features a panel discussion with Master Gardeners from the Central Oregon, Multnomah and Washington County programs.
REGISTER HERE

Community Science and the Master Gardener Program
Opens March 5th NEW Opening Date: March 26th
Community science is a type of scientific research or monitoring, where science professionals work closely with individuals or community groups to leverage local knowledge and insights, social learning, and collective action to help discover and disseminate new knowledge. Master Gardener volunteers are active and excellent collaborators on many community science projects across Oregon, and science professionals regularly seek out opportunities to work closely with Master Gardener volunteers on new projects. In this module, we explore how science works and how it relates to your garden. The overall aim is to deepen your understanding of the scientific process, and introduce you to several projects that you might participate in as a community scientist. 
REGISTER HERE

Showcase Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Efforts in Other States
Opens March 12th
You’ll have a chance to see how other states are overcoming barriers and creating new pathways to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and how new audiences are being reached through the Master Gardener program. Find out what you can take back to your county!
REGISTER HERE

OSU Extension’s Diversity Training for Volunteers
Opens March 12th
More information to come.
This class has been postponed. An update will be posted, as soon as it becomes available.

Recipes for a Collaborative Community
Opens March 15th
Master Gardener programs around the state involve a wide-range of volunteers, partner organizations, and community clients. How everyone works together can contribute to the success or detriment of a project/program. What is the “secret sauce” to achieve a successful, collaborative community? A community that achieves shared goals and keeps people coming back and participating.
REGISTER HERE

Building Community Partnerships to Broaden Outreach
Opens March 19th
We’re stronger together: grow and expand who you work with in the community by developing effective community partnerships. In this course you’ll learn how to identify possible partners, how to engage in partnerships, identify possible funding, and learn from other partnerships across Oregon and the country. We’ll look at examples of both rural and urban partnerships, get inspired, and chart a plan for growing effective partnerships. REGISTER HERE

Connect with Other Oregon Master Gardeners During the 10-Week Course Period

If you are on Facebook, you may want to consider joining the private group that we have set up to coincide with this 10-week training period. Connect with other Master Gardeners, ask questions, or share observations.

JOIN THE PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP HERE

Overview of the Master Gardener Program Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Celebration and Discussion

This year, the OSU Extension Master Gardener Program is sponsoring an evening discussion on January 18, 2021 from 7pm-8pm, as one small part of OSU’s 39th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Celebration. This Zoom event is open to Master Gardener volunteers, and is intended to provide an opportunity to reflect on Dr. King’s legacy, and our programmatic commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

How the Discussion Will Work

The discussion will be divided into three parts:

  • We will start with introductions and housekeeping tasks. Since this event is being hosted as a meeting, and not a webinar, we want to make sure that folks understand how to mute and unmute their microphone, ask a question or add a comment, where to go for technical help, etc. If you are new to using Zoom, you may want to join a test meeting, to practice using video and audio, before the event.
We will start the meeting by going over the different ways that you can engage with the group during the meeting.
  • We will then present a series of five questions to the group, and will ask you to share your perspectives. We’ll first direct everyone to an electronic bulletin board that we’ve pre-populated with the questions, so that everyone has a chance to share. A benefit of this approach is that it takes away some of the awkwardness of speaking up in a Zoom meeting with many folks in attendance. An added benefit is that you will also have a chance to read how others respond. After taking a few moments to share, we’ll reconvene as a group, and reflect upon and discuss the question, with the broader knowledge of how individuals across the group responded.
  • We will end with a call to action. We will share some of the great work being done by our Master Gardener colleagues in Rhode Island, and invite you to consider how you might bring some of these efforts into your own work as a Master Gardener volunteer.

Expectations for Civil Dialogue in Community Spaces

During our discussion, we will be adhering to some basic ground rules for civil discussion. These include:

  • Sharing time equitably to ensure the participation of all.
  • Listening carefully and not interrupt.
  • Keeping an open mind and be open to learning.
  • Respond to differences respectfully.

In addition, it can be helpful to review the differences between debate and dialogue, and to truly focus on the opportunities that dialogue spaces can offer. As one of my friends has said: “Listening is a super power. Trust and relationships can make almost anything possible.” (Claire Horner-Devine).

Debate DialogueDialogue
is oppositional: two sides oppose each other
and attempt to prove each other wrong.
is collaborative: two or more sides work together towards common understanding.
has winning as the goal.has finding common ground as the goal.
lets one side listen to the other side in order to find flaws and to counter its arguments.lets one side listen to the other side to understand.
defends assumptions as the truthreveals assumptions for reevaluation.
causes critique of the other position.causes introspection of one’s own position.
defends one’s own positions as the best solution and excludes other solutions.opens the possibility of reaching a better solution than any of the original solutions.
Creates a closed-minded attitude, a determination to be right.creates an open-minded attitude, an openness to being wrong and an openness to change.
prompts a search for glaring differences.prompts a search for basic agreements.
involves a countering of other position without focusing on feelings or relationship and often belittles or deprecates the other person.involves a real concern for the other person and does not seek to alienate or offend.
Appendix A2 in the US Department of Justice Community Dialogue Guide.

I look forward to seeing some of you at our discussion on January 18th, and thank you for all of the work that you do as Master Gardener volunteers.

Growing Oregon Gardeners: Level Up Series

This monthly zoom series kicks off in January, offering education for the experienced gardener led by OSU horticulture experts from across the state. Take your gardening knowledge to the next level with timely topics from gardening in a changing climate to techniques to extend your season.

WHENThe second Tuesday of the month, 3pm, January-November 2021
WHEREZoom, recordings available to watch anytime
WHOOpen to the public, OSU Extension Master Gardeners receive continuing education credit
HOWTake one or take all. Read more and register here.
COSTFree

Elevated Skills Training for Current Master Gardener Volunteers

Ready to gather new skills to elevate your Master Gardener volunteerism? Through Elevated Skills Trainings, Master Gardeners will learn how to use new tools for garden plant ID, advance your zoom or social media skills, and learn about community science within the Master Gardener program, as just a few examples. We’ll be using an online training tool named Thinkific, which is the same platform we’ve used to deliver the COVID Safety Training and the Celebrate Master Gardener Week. Each week, a new lesson will open for you to work through, on your own time, and at your own pace. Each lesson is optional: you can take whichever ones interest you. Once a lesson is open it will remain open for the rest of 2021, meaning you can take it at any time.

WHENlate January-late March 2021
WHEREonline learning platform Thinkific
WHOCurrent Master Gardeners (including 2020 trainees)
HOWTake one or take all.
COSTFree

Read more about plans for 2021, including additional event and trainings.

OSU Extension Master Gardener Program and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Celebration

As part of the University-wide 39th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers and staff are invited ahead of time to read, view and reflect upon materials and prompts of inclusion and identity as gardeners and Master Gardeners. These include:

A moderated online Zoom discussion will follow.

WHENJanuary 18th, 7pm
WHEREZoom online
WHOOSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers
HOWRegister here
COSTFree

You are also invited to attend the morning’s keynote address to be delivered by Dr. Angela Davis for Oregon State University’s 39th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. University-wide celebration. The event is free and open to the public. Register here.

Read more about OSU Extension Master Gardener plans for 2021, including additional event and trainings.

Getting ready for 2021: the OSU Extension Master Gardener program

As 2020 comes to a close, we are glad to be looking forward and seeing light in the new year and path ahead. Gardeners are resilient, and that includes OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers. So let’s look at an overview of what’s coming to the OSU Extension Master Gardener program in 2021.


Growing Oregon Gardeners: Level Up Series

This monthly Zoom series kicks off in January, offering education led by OSU horticulture experts for the experienced gardener. Take your gardening knowledge to the next level with timely topics ranging from gardening in a changing climate to techniques to extend your season.

WHENThe second Tuesday of the month, 3pm, January-November 2021
WHEREZoom, with recordings available for you to view anytime
WHOOpen to the public, Master Gardener volunteers receive continuing education credit
HOWTake one or take all. More information, including the list of classes here.
COSTFree

Elevated Skills Training for Current Master Gardener Volunteers

Ready to gather new skills to elevate your Master Gardener volunteerism? Through the Elevated Skills Trainings, Master Gardeners will learn how to use new tools for plant ID, advance your zoom or social media skills, and learn about community science within the Master Gardener program, are just a few examples. We’ll be using an online training tool named Thinkific, which is the same platform we’ve used to deliver the COVID Safety Training and the Celebrate Master Gardener Week. Each week, a new lesson will open for you to work through, on your own time, and at your own pace. Each lesson is optional: you can take whichever ones interest you. Once a lesson is open it will remain open for the rest of 2021, meaning you can take it at any time during the year.

WHENlate January-late March 2021
WHEREonline learning platform, Thinkific
WHOCurrent Master Gardeners (including 2020 trainees)
HOWTake one or take all. More information, including the list of classes here.
COSTFree

OSU Extension Master Gardeners and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Celebration

As part of the University-wide 39th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers and staff are invited to read, view and reflect upon materials and prompts of inclusion and identity as gardeners and Master Gardeners. A moderated online Zoom discussion will follow.

WHENJanuary 18th, 7pm
WHEREZoom online
WHOOSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers, staff, faculty
HOWRegister online. More information here.
COSTFree

Dr. Angela Davis will be delivering the keynote address for Oregon State University’s 39th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. University-wide celebration. The event is free and open to the public. Register here.


The Culture of Gardening

Let’s explore what gardening means to different people and groups, and how to grow and use plants from a variety of cultures. This new series of blog posts and talks will debut in late spring 2021, with a keynote address by horticulturist Abra Lee on the history of African American gardens and gardeners.

WHENMay 18th + more dates in the series
WHEREZoom online, with recordings available, and this blog
WHOOSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers and the gardening public
HOWMore details to be announced.
COSTFree

Mini-College for OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteers

The Oregon Master Gardener Association is organizing the first all online Mini-College, coming this summer. Plans include an array of classes and workshops for gardeners of all levels.

WHENJuly 16th-17th
WHEREonline
WHOOSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers and the gardening public
HOWMore details to come.

We will post more information and details as they become available. We hope to see many of you in 2021!

Celebrate Oregon Master Gardener Week, Day 5: Statewide Program Update

Last night, I presented an overview of some key events within Oregon’s Statewide Master Program over the past year ~ including challenges and how we’ve responded ~ as well as a look forward to 2021.

I mention the following links or resources during the talk:

We’re wrapping up our week-long celebration of Oregon’s Master Gardeners, this evening, with beneficial insect trivia hosted by Nicole Sanchez. Details are posted within the event course page.

Celebrate Master Gardener Week Day 4: What does climate and climate change have to do with being a Master Gardener?

Climate Trackers

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. 

Rain gauge used by Oregon Season Tracker participants

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.”  

Gardening Water-Wise

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. 

Wildfires

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!

Celebrate Master Gardener Week, Day 3

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 Oregon, many of our Master Gardener volunteers focus their efforts to conserve native species on promoting ways to help native bees and other pollinators thrive in home and community landscapes. The Linn County Master Gardeners were real innovators in developing educational outreach related to native pollinator protection. They host the annual BeeVent Conference, write a newsletter for mason bee enthusiasts, and host online question and answer sessions for those wanting to learn more about how to care for native mason bees.

The Linn County Master Gardeners have hosted the BeeVent Conference, since 2015.

In Washington County, Master Gardeners have built mason bee demonstration nests at the PCC Rock Creek Education Garden. And, Master Gardener Ron Spendel dedicates extensive time to the study of mason bee nesting behavior, and effort that helps gardeners create better habitat for these beautiful bees.

Osmia lignaria, the Blue Orchard Mason Bee. Photo by Sam Droege, USGS. Accessed via Wikimedia Commons.

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.

An insect domicile at the Washington County Master Gardener PCC Rock Creek Education Garden.
A smaller insect domicile at the Washington County Master Gardener PCC Rock Creek education garden.

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.

Douglas aster, in our native plant study plots. No supplemental water for 2.5 years, and no fertilizer. A top pick for native bees.

One of the things that we’ve worked really hard to do, is to get our data out to gardeners in a variety of formats, including our Garden Ecology Blog, talks across the state (13 talks and 2 webinars in 2020, reaching more than 1,600 people), videos of our research in progress, and native plant recommendations in a new Extension publication. It has been extremely gratifying to see gardeners starting to utilize some of the native plants that we’ve been studying in ornamental garden landscapes.

Native plants, including Douglas’ Aster and Goldenrod, in an ornamental garden planting.

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.

Master Gardeners also help to monitor invasive species that pose a threat to Oregon’s forest, via the Oregon Pest Detector Program.

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.

Celebrate Master Gardener Week, Day Two

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.

n 8×4-foot cloche used for growing vegetables, Newport, OR.
A raised bed cloche in the high desert of Redmond, Oregon.

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.

A raised bed with drip irrigation at the Marion Garden in Salem, OR.

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.

A square foot garden bed in Portland, OR, with supporting trellis.
In the background, to the left in this image, you can see the larger array of the raised-bed/trellis system that the Multnomah County Master Gardeners have set up in their demonstration garden.

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.

An overview of the Lane County Master Gardener adaptive garden.
Lane County Master Gardener raised bed with lowering trellis.

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.

Harry Olsen uses red plastic, raised beds, finely tuned soils, grafted tomatoes, and custom-made tomato cages to maximize production on small urban lot in Salem, OR.

There are so many more examples of great gardening techniques that I could provide. If you want to visit the demonstration garden in your neighborhood, check out the map of where Master Gardeners work in your community. You may want to contact your local Extension office, first, to make sure that the gardens are open and accessible during COVID Restrictions.

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.

Over 40,000 people signed up for OSU’s free, online vegetable gardening course ~ a level of interest that literally crashed the online registration system for a period of time. Master Gardeners across the state turned failed plant sales into an opportunity to support food security in their community. Clatsop County Master Gardeners turned a cancelled beginning vegetable gardening course into a beautiful series of blog posts on food security and growing your own food on the north coast. The Benton County community education team turned their cancelled vegetable gardening courses into ‘Seed to Supper at Home’, which they recorded and made available to all. They expanded their support for local gardeners by hosting live gardening question and answer sessions, online, which they have since turned into a series of podcasts. Curry County Master Gardeners used these recordings to deliver beginning vegetable gardening classes on the south coast.

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!