What does it mean to garden in community?

Photo courtesy Centro Latino Americano

For the Latinx and immigrant community in Lane county, gardening in community means connecting in the 7 community gardens and growing organic produce together. At an upcoming webinar by the Lane County Master Gardener Association, learn how Centro Latino Americano (formerly Huerto de la Familia) provides services and support for this great initiative, and how gardeners are teaching new gardeners in the garden. Leaders from the organization will share insight into community building through gardening, lessons learned, and examples of community engagement.

Come learn how the Lane County Master Gardener Association has fostered this important community relationship and helped to take a behind-the-scenes role in supporting Centro Latino Americano’s work.

Tuesday, September 20th, 6:30-7:30 pm. Online webinar.

Master Gardener volunteers and program coordinators across the state are invited and encouraged to attend. Read more about the event, and register for the webinar.

“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

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. 

Master Gardeners join 40th anniversary of OSU’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service exploring the intersection of climate change and social justice

Gardeners in Oregon saw what climate change looks like last summer: widespread leaf scorch and leaf drop from trees, bees at risk from heat stress, and plants succumbing to a record-breaking “heat dome”. Dr. Vivek Shandas saw it too, and on the hottest day of the year he set out with his son to measure air and ground temperatures in some of Portland’s most vulnerable communities. His research on climate adaptation and climate justice shows that how people fare during extreme heatwaves is in large part dictated by where they live. Halfway around the globe, Anita Chitaya lives with climate change in Malawai, as a farmer and community activist. She traveled to America to speak with farmers, growers, community organizers, and politicians about climate change and how we can work together to reduce its rapid trajectory. 

Movie and Discussion: The Ants and the Grasshopper, and a climate change discussion for gardeners with Vivek Shandas

Join us for the 40th anniversary of OSU’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, when we will gather virtually to reflect upon environmental justice as a component to achieving social justice.  We will watch the documentary that chronicles Anita Chitaya’s story, “The Ants and the Grasshopper”. Afterward, stay for a live discussion with Dr. Vivek Shandas about climate change effects on vulnerable communities, the intersection of climate change and social justice, and what role gardeners can play to promote healthier living environments for all.


When: Monday, January 17, 2022, 6pm movie, 7:15 pm discussion
Where: Online, via Kinema


About the movie, The Ants and the Grasshopper : How do you change someone’s mind about the most important thing in the world? Anita Chitaya has a gift: she can change farmers’ minds about what to grow, she can change what people love to eat, and she can even persuade men to fight for gender equality. Now, to save her home in Malawi from extreme weather, she faces her greatest challenge: persuading Americans that climate change is real.

About Dr. Vivek Shandas: Vivek Shandas is a Professor in the College of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State University. His work focuses on developing strategies for addressing the implications of climate change on cities. His teaching and research examine the intersection of exposure to climate-induced events, governance processes, and planning mechanisms. As the Founder and Director of the Sustaining Urban Places Research (SUPR) laboratory at PSU, he brings a policy-relevant approach to research, including the evaluation of environmental stressors on human health, developing of indicators and tools to improve decision making, and the construction of frameworks to guide the growth of urban regions. Over the past several years, research from the SUPR Lab has appeared in the Smithsonian Magazine, National Public Radio, Washington Post, Minnesota Public Broadcasting, NY Times, Qatar Times, and several other national and international media.

About this event: The OSU Extension Master Gardener program is sponsoring this event as one small part of OSU’s 40th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Celebration. This event is open to all gardeners, including Master Gardener volunteers, and is intended to provide an opportunity to reflect on Dr. King’s legacy, and our programmatic commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as climate change. 

How to access this event: Tickets are free but require registration. Once you register at Kinema you’ll be provided sign-in information from Kinema. You must view the movie and discussion through Kinema at the time this event is scheduled.

While this event is in the evening, Master Gardeners are encouraged to use their day of service.

Here are some ideas:

  • Make your commitments for the year to teach and reach gardeners who are underserved by our services
  • Make seed tape or mason bee houses to donate to your local community garden or school garden
  • If your Master Gardener Association hosts an annual plant sale, include plant donations to your local community garden or school garden in your propagation plans
  • For Master Gardener coordinators and local association leadership, connect to your local SNAP-Ed educator in your Extension office and ask “What can we do?” 
  • Commit to supporting your local SNAP-Ed educator in every county, as a support to our joint Food Hero and Grow This! program.
  • Commit to planning a workshop that broadens community outreach. Plan for an event with childcare in conjunction with a community partner whose work you want to support.
  • Make plans and commitments for 2022 to explore the connection of gardeners to combat climate change as a form of environmental justice. Explore the intersection of those most vulnerable to climate change and climate change, and what gardeners can do to better connect these.  

What are your ideas as gardeners for being of service to community on MLK Day?  We’d love to hear them. 

And the winners of the 2021 Master Gardener volunteer photo contest are…

Thank you to everyone who participated in our first ever Master Gardener Photo Contest! We are so grateful for the time and intention you made through connecting your art to the program’s priorities and values.

And the winners are…

Category: Place
The places of Master Gardeners: beauty shots of demonstration and learning gardens. What would you put on the cover of a travel magazine featuring demonstration gardens?

First place: Denise Saunders, Benton County

Photographer notes: This is from the Benton County Master Gardener’s Demonstration Garden.

Notes from the judges: This photo tells a story of abundance and what can come from a well-tended garden, and from a demonstration garden. Specifically noting the incredible yield, and in a beautiful photo with diagonal lines, and wonderful contrasting colors. There’s also a sense of fun, realness and simplicity to this photo that we really love!

Second place: Geoff Puryear, Douglas County

Photographer notes: This is a photo taken earlier this year of the Xeriscape Garden at the DCMG Discovery Garden. I am the designer and lead maintainer of this space.

Notes from the judges: This is a beautiful landscape photo with great texture, shape and form, and gorgeous color. This tells such an excellent story about what you can see and learn in a demonstration garden, including the pairing of plants, use of gravel and rocks, and diversity of plants. This photo also ties into the Master Gardener program priority of climate change, demonstrating xeriscaping in the garden.

Category: People
The people (Master Gardeners) in action, fulfilling the program’s mission and vision.

First place: Denise Saunders, Benton County

Photographer’s notes: from the Benton County Master Gardener’s Demonstration Garden

Notes from the judges: Master Gardeners working together: we are stronger as teams! This is also a great photo example of gardening techniques, with mulch, irrigation, and plant support structures in a demonstration garden. The diagonal lines in the plant structure are repeated in the lines of the irrigation and the colors in this photo are what a lovely day to work in the garden is all about: look at that bright blue sky!

Second place: Maryann Keiffer, Klamath County

Notes from photographer: The potatoes, both are from the potato in a bag program, purple fingerlings and red. The tomatoes and cucumbers are from the Master Gardeners plant sale along with the sunflowers which were given to me to plant in the beginning of the season.

Notes from the judges: This is a happy gardener with a successful harvest from the garden—even if we can’t see the smile under the mask, we’re pretty sure there’s one there. So many great angles in this photo, from the gardener’s pose to the lines of the raised bed to the two arching sunflowers that run vertically up the center. Thank you, Maryann for participating in the Grow This! Challenge with our friends at Food Hero and for capturing this great photo of your haul.

Category: Program Priorities
Depictions of any of our eight program priorities:
-Sustainable gardening skills
-Plant and insect identification and education
-Local food
-Native species
-Adaptive and accessible gardening
-Climate change
-Cultural connection
-Soil health

First place: Heidi Nichols, Multnomah County

Notes from the judges: Wow! This photo is one of those magic moments many gardeners experience but don’t always have a camera at the ready. Excellent focus, composition and color combined with clear connection to our program priorities of native species, sustainable gardening, and even local food.

Second place: Donald Lyon, Linn County

Notes from the photographer: Elongated snout of harmful Asparagus beetle (Crioceris asparagi) helps identify it, separate from beneficial ladybug beetle.

Notes from the judges: Careful and close attention to the small things in the garden pay off, and that includes identifying insects. This is a fantastic close-up/macro with great composition, and even captures the insects from two angles, which is so helpful in proper identification. The use of select focus allows the viewer to really concentrate on the elements of the insects, and even the slight angle of the plant adds to this photograph’s overall attractiveness. Check out the texture on those antennae!


Thank you to OSU Extension Communications for supplying prizes for the winners. Also, thank you to the judges who included Ann Marie Murphy of OSU Extension Communications, and 2021 Statewide Behind the Scenes Master Gardener Award winner, Sue Ryburn for joining me in judging.

Finally, thank you to everyone who participated. There were many fantastic photos submitted and if you didn’t enter this year, start collecting your submissions for next year!

The Master Gardener volunteer photo contest is officially open!

“What do Master Gardeners actually do?”

This is a question Master Gardeners get asked a lot. We can answer that question in words, but better yet, let’s answer that question in photos.

OSU Extension Master Gardeners are invited to participate in a statewide photography challenge and contest.
• How can you capture in photos what you love about the Master Gardener program?
• How would you show others what you see about being a Master Gardener?
There will be prizes!

When: The contest is now open. Submissions will be accepted until September 30, 8 p.m. Winners will be announced on October 25th.

There are three categories:

  1. The places of Master Gardeners: beauty shots of demonstration and learning gardens. What would you put on the cover of a travel magazine featuring demonstration gardens?
  2. The people: Master Gardeners in action, fulfilling the program’s mission and vision.
  3. Program priorities: photos depicting any of our eight program priorities:
    -Sustainable gardening skills
    -Plant and insect identification and education
    -Local food
    -Native species
    -Adaptive and accessible gardening
    -Climate change
    -Cultural connection
    -Soil health

Rules and Usage:

  • Photos must be taken during 2020-2021;
  • Photos must be taken by current OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers;
  • Photos submitted become the rights of the OSU Extension Master Gardener program and may be used in program communications (website and in print). They will not be shared for use by any third party other than OSU. Photographers will be given photo credit.
  • Master Gardeners sign photo use waivers as part of the program, but have the option to opt out. Please obtain approval for the use of their image. For people in any of your photos that *not* Master Gardeners, photo releases must be obtained and submitted. Please use the Model release form;
  • Participants can enter up to five photos per category (total of 15);
  • All entries are to be digital and cannot exceed 10MB each.

How to Submit:

Fill out the form, upload your photos, include any photo releases:

Prizes:
First-place winners in each of the three categories will receive signed, autographed copies of the books Trees to Know, and Shrubs to Know. In addition, an OSU Foods of Oregon reusable tote.

All second-place winners in each of the three categories will receive signed, autographed copies of the book Trees to Know. In addition, an OSU Foods of Oregon reusable tote.

Judging:
Judges will be a small panel of staff from the statewide program, Extension communications, and Master Gardener volunteers.

Tips for taking photos for the Master Gardener photo contest

Equipment:
You don’t need to own expensive nor professional photography equipment to take great photos. Current mobile phone technology is great! It’s how you capture the moment!

How to take great photos of people:
Photography style suggestions from OSU Extension provide good examples:

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Shoot in high resolution mode;
  • Landscape and vertical images are welcome;
  • Photograph people the way they see themselves;
  • Capture people in their element, with clues about who they are surrounding them in the space;
  • Try different set-ups and arrangements: different size groups and different angles and directions;
  • What stops you in your tracks and makes you take in a scene? Capture that;
  • Different angles, from on the ground, or from directly above, make for interesting photos.

Culture and detail:
Sometimes subtle details can show diversity, such as a religious head covering, assistive device or a gender-inclusive sign on a restroom door. Who the camera is focused on can also send a message. Who are you centering your camera on? Photography is a great way to explore all of the people and places of the Master Gardener program. Representation matters.

How to take great photos of a place:
Think big picture:
• Try using portrait mode if you have it available on your phone;
Panoramic mode can be a great way to create a wide or tall shot of a space;
• Drone photography? If you’re a drone photographer and familiar with drone regulations, what about a photo like this or this? Now there’s a challenge.

Ideas for photographs that represent our program priorities:

These might be photos of people, or of places, or of both! How would you show our program priorities to someone asking about the Master Gardener program?

Some examples (but use your imagination)…

  • Sustainable gardening skills: Master Gardeners working together on just about any project in a garden.
  • Plant and insect identification and education: a workshop of people looking at insects, artful photographs of insects or plants submitted to a plant clinic, hands exchanging a plant or insect for identification, Master Gardeners working together at plant clinic, macro (close-up) photograph of a really interesting and common insect (or one we should all be on the lookout for)
  • Local food: vegetable gardens in abundance, produce harvested and arranged in beautiful ways, community members receiving produce grown in a Master Gardener garden
  • Native species: native plants in bloom, invasive plants, invasive species photos
  • Adaptive and accessible gardening: people working in raised beds, a vignette of an accessible garden area in your local demonstration garden
  • Climate change: applying mulch, burned plants, ice storm damage on trees, garden scene with smoky skies, ash on garden produce or leaves, soaker hoses
  • Cultural connection: gardeners with plants or tools that you grow or use as a connection to your culture. For example, salsa gardens, herbs specific to your families’ foods, tools specific to your heritage.
  • Soil health: making compost, compost set ups in a demonstration garden, earthworms in a gardener’s hands, digging, mulch spreading.

Lighting

  • Outdoor lighting is going to be your friend;
  • Avoid using flash or shooting indoors if possible;
  • Seek “magic light” or “golden hour”—this kind of light occurs early in the morning, or in the evening, when the angle of the sun makes gardens and people glow, filling the photograph with warm light;
  • Watch for shadows that obscure faces or key elements of your subjects.

Photo Adjustments
Please don’t use date stamps on your photos, watermarks, frames, or additional art or text on your photos.

We can’t wait to see what you see!

A healthy garden is biodiverse, and so is the OSU Extension Master Gardener program: introducing the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force

30+ Master Gardener volunteers from 15 counties across the state, along with 7 Master Gardener program staff and faculty recently kicked off the first cohort of a task force focused on expanding diversity, equity, and inclusion in the OSU Extension Master Gardener Program. These volunteers have made an incredible personal volunteer commitment to serve on the task force for one year, and the faculty and staff are excited to work alongside them on this journey.

As a learning community we explore:

  • our own stories and history
  • history of racism in Oregon 
  • founding stories of land grant institutions
  • colonization within the field of our work
  • growing our awareness of inequities to improve our critical consciousness

As a working community we work to:

  • Increase the diversity of who we serve in the community
  • Increase the diversity of who we are in the program
  • Grow the breadth of our curriculum and events to include cultural practices and inclusion
  • Model inclusive practices to our peers in the MG program
  • Form, grow and strengthen our work with community partners

We meet monthly to deepen our learning and to connect, and working sub groups are also running throughout the month. These four workgroups are focused on the following questions:

Who becomes a Master Gardener?

What are our current demographics?
What are the barriers to becoming a Master Gardener?
Barriers identified in previous surveys of MG volunteers and coordinators include: 
-time required to take the course and to fulfill volunteer hours; 
-cost of the training course and financial penalty for not completing volunteer hours; 
-location of training course and volunteer opportunities;
-time of year/day when training course is offered.

Who do we serve in the community?

Mapping of where the MG Program currently works and operates 
Using an asset-based approach, identify existing organizations and potential partners, groups and communities working in areas of the community where we are not. 

How can our Master Gardener curriculum and content grow to be more inclusive?

Examining existing MG curriculum and making recommendations on how the MG curriculum can be broadened beyond a Euro-centric perspective that assumes land access and ownership. Should and how do we include different cultural perspectives in the curriculum?

What events and programming should we grow/develop to support this work?

Identify and plan special events, such as OSU Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of celebration, Pride and others as identified by subgroup. Coordinate and plan the Culture of Gardening series.

Why a DEI Task Force?

In 2020, we made clear statements and reiterated our commitment to building a more inclusive program. We know that these changes cannot be made without Master Gardener volunteers playing a key role in identifying and doing the work alongside us, as a way to engage and demonstrate, and to hold each other accountable. We have work to do, and we are committed to doing it together.

A Spring 2021 Update

Hello Master Gardener Volunteers,

The signs of spring are different across Oregon: daffodils in the Willamette Valley, the first trilliums seen in bloom along the coastal forest roads, the fields greening up in Central Oregon, and in Southern Oregon, the bright red of maple tree buds before they unfurl into leaves.

Spring brings so much hope, so let’s talk some real talk: we acknowledge the social isolation has been hard on many of us, with little to no opportunity to gather in person and to do the gardening work we love, together. Yes, we’ve had many zoom meetings, webinars, emails, and virtual trainings, but as many of you are receiving vaccinations, there seems to be hope on the horizon. As we look to the possibility of opening things back up, please know that the health and safety of our volunteers is of utmost importance, and our work will be to prioritize that.

As county risk levels continue to move to lower levels across the state and we start to participate in more face to face Master Gardener activities, please know:

  • Face to face Master Gardener volunteer activities still require approval from the appropriate Extension regional director. Requests for new activities are submitted by your Master Gardener coordinator. Activities that have been approved may need to be cancelled or postponed if a county’s risk of COVID transmission moves from a lower to higher level in the interim between when an activity is approved and when the activity is scheduled to take place.
  • Many volunteers have asked if vaccination status influences the types of Master Gardener activities and projects that can be planned. OSU Extension administration states that irregardless of an individuals’ vaccine status, we are continuing to use the status at-a-glance information for restricted return or modified operations as a guide whether specific activity requests are approved, or not.
  • In discussions with Master Gardener Program Coordinators across the state, we noted that most face to face Master Gardener gatherings are going really well. Folks have taken the COVID safety training class, are wearing masks, and are observing social distancing. We have high confidence that our Master Gardener volunteers are doing their best to keep themselves and each other, safe. At the moment, we are prioritizing face to face Master Gardener activities that are limited to Master Gardener volunteers, or to a small number of folks from the general public. At this time, we’re not yet at the point where we want to schedule activities that would place Master Gardener volunteers into high-traffic events and activities with the general public. For now, we’re not prioritizing Master Gardener plant clinic booths at farmers markets or fairs.

As a closing note, we stand in solidarity with members of the Asian and Asian American community as the rise in anti-Asian racism continues in our country. To our Asian Master Gardeners and community: we see you, we value you, and know you deserve to feel safe and respected. Here is an important message from OSU leadership. To report a bias incident within the OSU community, visit the Office of Institutional Diversity’s Bias Incident Response website. Any member of the OSU community who believes they have been subjected to harassment or discrimination should visit the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access.

Here’s to Spring and the message of hope it brings, for all of us.

LeAnn Locher
Statewide Master Gardener Outreach Coordinator
Oregon State University Extension

White flower trillium
Photo by Darren Halstead on Unsplash

Two New and Remote Volunteer Opportunities

At this time, when many Oregon counties are in the ‘Extreme Risk’ of COVID transmission category, there are limited opportunities for Master Gardener volunteerism. And, until we return to ‘normal’, we can expect that OSU Extension will require approval for in-person programming and employee travel. The current guidance that we are operating under can be found in the PDF, below.

A jpg of the OSU Extension Activities and Risk Level Matrix, which is also shared in this post as a pdf.

During this time of COVID restrictions, Master Gardener volunteers have continued to serve their communities by writing social media posts (gardening tips of the week), participating in virtual plant clinic, or approved work in demonstration of community gardens. Given the limited selection of approved volunteer activities at this time, I am pleased to announce that there are two new options available for Master Gardener volunteer service. Both of these projects are eligible for volunteer service hour credit.

1) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Learning Community and Task Force

Are you interested in participating in a statewide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI )workgroup? We are exploring the formation of a statewide DEI workgroup that would include OSU Extension Master Gardener staff and volunteers.

For the past 8 months, a small group of Master Gardener program staff have been meeting to establish priorities and to work on creating a more equitable and inclusive program. We’d like to grow this group to include volunteers, and to create a learning community and work group dedicated to DEI. Are you interested in participating? We’d love to hear from you.

  • A learning community and working group to focus on needs and priorities for diversity, equity and inclusion in the OSU Extension Master Gardener program
  • Estimated time commitment is 5 hours/month. Statewide working group to meet monthly, subteams to meet 1-2 times a month for specific focused work. Hours count towards MG volunteer hours.
  • Apply before February 12th. We hope to have the first meeting in April.
  • Apply here before February 12th: https://oregonstate.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_41JSg3HIvsAFUwt

Grow This! Oregon Garden Challenge

Food Hero and Master Gardeners are collaborating on the 2021 Grow This! Oregon Garden Challenge. The second year of the Grow This! Oregon Garden Challenge, is much bigger than last year’s Challenge! This year we are looking to sign up 8,000 gardeners to grow vegetable and flowers and need your help!

We need your help to grow along and share your expert advice with these gardeners. Please consider signing up to participate as a Grow This! Champion. Your growing tips, comments, challenges and stories will be shared on our social media platforms and in monthly update emails to beginning gardeners as a way to build a growing community across the state.

Master Gardener volunteers are invited to participate, and apply to be a Grow This! Champion.

A Grow This! Champion:

  1. Must be a current Oregon Master Gardener volunteer or Master
    Gardeners representing a county demonstration/educational garden.
  2. Will need to apply for the Grow This! Champion program by midnight
    February 19 (we are looking to include Master Gardeners from across
    the state and may need to limit participation if demand exceeds our
    seed supply).
  3. Will receive one crop seed packet and one flower seed packet.
    (Type and variety will be selected at random.) Pick up will be at your
    county in March (specifics will be sent by email)
  4. Must agree to give feedback on your growing process and results
    at least once—but as often as you want—during the Challenge.
    Feedback could include suggestions, comments, challenges and
    solutions, stories, photos, drawings or videos that we can share
    with others (with or without your name). These can be emailed to
    food.hero@oregonstate.edu or shared on social media adding the
    following text to any post: @BeAFoodHero and #mastergardener.
    All feedback is WELCOME.
  5. Can count your active time spent on this project as Master Gardener
    volunteer hours (report as ‘community science’)

Questions?
Email Brooke.Edmunds AT oregonstate.edu or food.hero AT oregonstate.edu or leave a voice message at 541-737-1017.

Learn more about the challenge here: https://www.foodhero.org/growthis. You can also download the flier in the file, below, to share with other Master Gardener volunteers who might be interested in participating.

A jpg of the Grow This! Challenge flier, which is also shared in this post as a pdf.