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Did You Know: Burgdorf Community Garden

working in garden

Hartford County Master Gardener Coordinator Sarah Bailey and a Master Gardener volunteer work in Burgdorf. Photo: Chris Defrancesco.

Burgdorf Community Garden is a signature outreach project for Hartford County Master Gardener volunteers. They helped plant and maintain a garden on the grounds of the Burgdorf/Bank of America Health center, a clinic for the underserved in Hartford’s North End. The garden is used to teach nutrition to clients and also provides healthy produce for residents living in a food desert. Along with keeping the garden healthy and productive, Master Gardeners also helped educate area residents about the ability to grow their own healthy food, even with limited space.

In 2014, two Hartford County Master Gardeners worked on the Burgdorf Clinic project with medical students and other clinic volunteers for approximately 125 hours.

The garden opened on June 3rd in 2015, and six Master Gardeners participated. Early work included new soil and weeding. Planting will include tomatoes, beans, greens peppers, herbs, and callaloo.

UConn Extension Master Gardeners work in communities across the state on gardening projects. For instance, through the Gardening Initiative in Vegetable Education (GIVE) program, there are 19 schools with vegetable gardens in Stamford. The model community garden at Middlesex County Extension Center delivers fresh produce to community food banks and soup kitchens. New London County Master Gardeners work with adults with disabilities at Camp Harkness in Waterford. Master Gardeners in Tolland County are teaching students to garden at Natchaug Hospital. Windham County Master Gardeners work with People’s Harvest of Pomfret to donate produce from the garden to local soup kitchens.

Master Gardener Signature Outreach Projects

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Kelly Vaughan photo

The UConn Extension Master Gardener Program is an educational outreach program that started in 1978 and consists of horticulture training and outreach component in the community. Master Gardeners are enthusiastic, willing to learn, and share their knowledge and training with others. What sets them apart from other home gardeners is their special horticultural training. In exchange for this training, Master Gardeners commit time as volunteers working through their local UConn Extension Center and the Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford to provide horticultural-related information to their communities.

Signature outreach projects are determined by the County Master Gardener Coordinators and are carried out by Certified Master Gardener volunteers and interns. Through these outreach programs, the UConn Extension Master Gardener program has a tremendous impact on the communities across Connecticut. In 2013, over 23,500 hours of community service were donated by our Master Gardeners with a value of $664,110 to the communities and citizens served. Signature outreach projects for 2015 include new and ongoing projects.

In Fairfield County, the Master Gardeners installed and maintain exhibition gardens of primarily native trees and shrubs. Plantings were selected to attract birds and butterflies, and the Master Gardeners provide docent walks and special events. The garden includes foundation plantings, a pollinator garden, a vegetable garden and orchard. Signature outreach includes initiatives and activities that help preserve, restore, maintain and protect the natural beauty of the grounds as a cultural and ecological resource to the community. Other signature events in Fairfield County include: the Bethel Garden Fair and the Farmers’ Market Mini-Plant Clinic.

Master Gardeners at the Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens focus on a number of projects. On the grounds of the Arboretum several teams of mentors run the perennial, herb, cottage, sundial and vegetable gardens. The Native Plant garden and Fern garden have been designed, installed and are maintained by dedicated crews of Master Gardeners. In the larger community Master Gardeners support the Gardening Initiative in Vegetable Education (GIVE) program. The goal is to set up and maintain vegetable gardens in schoolyards.  A Master Gardener started it four years ago at one school; now there are 19 schools with vegetable gardens in Stamford. In Norwalk, Ryan Park was renovated by a few Master Gardeners and developed into an urban oasis. Gardens are flourishing and activities for children and parents are held to offer the community an outdoor place to play, gather and learn.

In Hartford County, Master Gardener volunteers helped plant and maintain a garden on the grounds of the Burgdorf/Bank of America Health center, a clinic for the underserved in Hartford’s North End. The garden is used to teach nutrition to clients and also provides healthy produce for residents living in a food desert. Along with keeping the garden healthy and productive, Master Gardeners also help educate area residents about the ability to grow their own healthy food, even with limited space.

Master Gardeners also helped start the Community Court garden in Hartford. The 100 x 100 foot garden is part of the court diversion program, working with first-time and non-violent offenders to keep them out of the larger court system. As part of their community service, these individuals help maintain the production garden, providing food for area organizations and learning horticultural skills in the process. Master Gardeners assist with crop selection, garden maintenance practices and problem solving.

vegetable gardenAt Brooker Memorial Child Care in Torrington, a multi-generational group worked with Litchfield County Master Gardeners to install a raised bed children’s garden. The garden had been a goal of Brooker Memorial’s for years, and the help of the Master Gardener program saw this realized in 2014. The children are very interested in watching the plants grow and take their jobs, like watering, very seriously. Parents and community members are also involved with the garden. Other signature outreach programs in Litchfield County include the Northwest Conservation District Plant Sale and the Master Gardener booth at four local fairs.

Middlesex County Master Gardeners have a focus group and community garden. The focus group presents opportunities for Master Gardeners at all levels to teach and learn in a collaborative environment, provide forums for researching and experimenting with organic gardening, and enhances sustainable living practices through community outreach and education. The model community garden delivers all fresh produce to community food banks and soup kitchens during the growing season, and offers the community an ongoing teaching and learning tool for organic horticultural practices throughout the year.

Master Gardeners in New Haven County focus on two different signature projects. They maintain the shrubs and perennials on the grounds of the UConn Extension Center in North Haven, and revived an herb-teaching garden. Interns and volunteers are also providing maps and cultural information on the plants, and work on the insect collection and other office projects.  An umbrella project, New Haven Urban Agriculture covers a group of interrelated activities in the city of New Haven. Master Gardeners collaborate with the New Haven Land Trust Community Gardens, New Haven Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees, Marsh Botanical Garden, New Haven Farms, Urban Resources Initiative and Common Ground High School. Each volunteer is asked to devote at least five hours of their time commitment to one or more of these signature projects.

New London County Master Gardeners have their signature project at Camp Harkness in Waterford. This educational outreach project puts into practice the concept of horticultural therapy. Every summer the camp welcomes adults with disabilities who participate in activities such as planting and maintaining planters, working with herbs, and more, working with a dedicated group of UConn Extension certified Master Gardeners and interns. During winter months Master Gardeners work with seniors in the greenhouse. Master Gardener and Horticultural Therapist Julia Griswold established the program, which has been ongoing for many years.

Nine different signature outreach projects keep Master Gardeners in Tolland County engaged in community activities. These include: the Tolland youth garden, Belding Wildlife Management Area, Wasp Watchers, Strong Family Farm, Wind Hill Community Farm, Hartford Summer School Garden, Pascal Lane Community Garden, South Windsor Farmer’s Market and the Hebron Harvest Fair. Each of these projects provides opportunities for children, youth and families to discover the joys and benefits of gardening, environmental stewardship and community service. Produce that is harvested through the Tolland Youth Garden is donated to the Cornerstone Soup Kitchen in Rockville. At the Wind Hill Community Farm in Glastonbury, produce from one 40-acre field is donated to Foodshare.

People’s Harvest in Pomfret is one of the signature projects in Windham County. This half-acre vegetable garden and educational project has been run by the Master Gardeners for more than ten years. The produce is donated to local soup kitchens. Many area youth groups visit People’s Harvest to learn about their connections to the environment, raising vegetables using sustainable techniques, and food security issues. Windham County Master Gardeners are also active with: a demonstration garden at the Extension Center in Brooklyn, the Palmer Arboretum in Woodstock, Our Companion Animal Sanctuary in Ashford, and Goodwin Conservation Center in Hampton.

To find out more about the UConn Extension Master Gardener program and our outreach efforts, please visit www.mastergardener.uconn.edu or call State Coordinator Leslie Alexander at 860-486-6343.

Master Gardener Volunteer Wins Award

KenSherrickCongratulations to Advanced Master Gardener Ken Sherrick named “Outstanding CFPA Volunteer” for his work on the Connecticut Forest and Park Association grounds and gardens in Rockfall, CT.

Garden Programs in Fairfield County

Originally published by Naturally@UConn on December 16, 2014

Written by: Kim Markesich

Fairfield County gardening programs teach nutrition, integrated pest management and life skills

The Fairfield County Extension Center Demonstration Garden

The Fairfield County Extension Center Demonstration Garden

The Fairfield County Extension Center hosts a variety of gardening programs, and the season just past was a successful and bountiful one.

With the support of a five-year grant from USDA/NIFA’s Children,  Family, and Youth at Risk Program (CYFAR), Edith Valiquette, 4-H youth development educator, coordinates an urban 4-H garden program for sixth through eighth grade students at Barnum Elementary School in Bridgeport. German Cutz, associate extension educator, serves as principal investigator for the grant.

Students attend the program four hours each week during the school year and eight hours a week during the summer. The curriculum focuses on gardening, workforce readiness and technology.

Students learn about nutrition, gardening and healthy meal preparation while working together as a group. They explore agriculture by visiting local farms and participate in community service projects. Students designed, filmed and edited videos to teach healthy eating and used these guides to mentor younger students. Students also participated in a Christmas program presented in nursing homes.

“The program allows kids to have fun while learning valuable skills such as leadership and life skills,” says Valiquette. “The program brings these 4-H opportunities to urban neighborhoods.”

 

The group produced 2,000 pounds of vegetables in 24 raised beds. Their carrots won Best of Show at the Fairfield County 4-H Fair. A portion of the harvested produce is used for cooking classes, while the remainder is sent home with students to supplement family meals.

Read more…

Master Gardener Volunteer Recognition

As part of the national celebration of the 100th anniversary of Cooperative Extension in 2014, the UConn Extension Master Gardener Program is honoring the substantial contributions of its Master Gardener volunteers. This marks the commencement of an ongoing recognition program for the sizable volunteer time that Master Gardener volunteers invest in their communities. This recognition applies to all active certified master gardeners, regardless of whether they pursue further education levels through Advanced Master Gardener training.

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Hartford County Master Gardener Coordinator Sarah Bailey and a Master Gardener volunteer work in Burgdorf. Photo: Chris Defrancesco.

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Active certified Master Gardener volunteers are currently being recognized for 100, 250, 500, 750, 1,000, 1,500 and 2000 cumulative hours of service. Starting with the 2014 year, volunteers will be recognized for their service, provided they maintain active certified status. To maintain active certified status, a UConn Extension Master Gardener volunteer must provide 20 hours of outreach each year, at least 10 of which must be in a Master Gardener office, attend one Hot Topics class, complete and submit the recertification form, recording their hours on the UConn Master Gardener website. Hours and active status will be tallied as of September 30 each year. UConn Extension Master Gardener alumni who are not currently on active status can contact their county coordinator to ask about attaining active certified status.

Gardening Questions?

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Have a question about your garden or landscape? Want to know which insect is chewing your shrubs, or what the spots on your tomatoes are? Interested in native plantings or attracting wildlife? Or do you want to start a garden, but don’t know where to start?

Your local UConn Extension Master Gardener volunteers are available to help.

UConn Extension Master Gardeners are committed gardeners who have received special horticultural training from Extension educators and specialists and provide free diagnostics and cultural information to home gardeners.  Throughout the growing season these volunteers hold office hours in the local UConn Extension offices and are often at area farmer’s markets and other public events.

Office hours vary by county. Check for your local office’s hours.

4-H Education Center at Auerfarm

The 124-acre 4-H Education Center at Auerfarm is located in the northwest section of Bloomfield, Connecticut.  Hartford entrepreneur and retailer Beatrice Auerbach deeded the farm to the CT 4-H Development Fund in 1976. Founded in the early years of the twentieth century, Auerfarm had been honored many times as a model site that included 60 purebred Guernsey cows, 20,000 chicken and 300 apple trees.  Today, the Auerbach legacy to the 4-H Education Center is expressed through the variety of 4-H education programs offered to families and children in the areas of gardening, agriculture and environmental science. Over 15,000 students and family members participate in year round 4-H curriculum based school science programs, animal clubs, and Junior Master Gardening activities.

auer farm

Visitors are invited to walk the property, go to the animal barn, the blueberry and raspberry beds and tour the newly established herb beds and the organic Master Gardener/Foodshare garden located on the hill above the animal barn.  The children’s herb garden, “Thyme in Auer Garden,” developed in 2012, provides a new area of horticultural discovery as butterflies, birds and flowers present themselves in a symmetrical raised bed. Children readily access and experience the colors, smell, and taste of the New England hardy perennials while they learn that plants provide medicine, flavorings, aroma and seed for wildlife.  With funding from a generous friend of the 4-H Education Center at Auerfarm and the hard work of Master Gardeners and volunteers, the herb garden has become a place to pause and reflect on the beautiful surrounding landscape.

The Master Gardener/Foodshare garden is a quarter acre vegetable garden used by Master Gardeners and 4-Hers as a demonstration site for learning the basics of environmentally responsible vegetable and flower production.  Students study growing conditions through understanding soil, water, insect, and disease management. The garden offers multiple opportunities helping in the seasonal progression of growing plants as well as observation of wildlife, especially birds.   Approximately 300 volunteers come out to help the Master Gardeners on the weekends.  Enjoying the farmland setting and giving back to the community provides a meaningful reward for the volunteers.  They do seeding, weeding and harvesting of approximately 3600 pounds of fresh produce for distribution to the community kitchens in and around Hartford.

The 4-H Education Center is open to the public daily throughout the calendar year.  You can see video of the gardens here.