Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Jeffco CSU Extension Colorado Master Gardeners: 2013 Highlights by Mary Small

Colorado Master Gardener volunteers in Jefferson County actively engage Jefferson County residents to foster successful gardening. A dedicated corps of 110 volunteers brings a variety of projects to life. In 2013, these energetic volunteers donated 6944 hours to CSU Extension. In business terms, that’s the equivalent of almost 3½ full time staff! In dollars, that volunteer service is worth $153,740. Following are descriptions of some of the major outreach projects which resulted in 10,338 direct contacts with Jefferson County citizens.

Beekeeping 101

Public Gardening Classes – CMG volunteers trained in public speaking presented classes on a variety of gardening topics throughout the year. One of the most successful projects in 2013 was the Backyard Food Production Classes. Colorado Master Gardeners and staff in Jefferson County developed a class series that studied successful backyard food production. Topics covered included Small Fruit Production, Growing Heirloom Vegetables, Biointensive Garden Design, Starting Your Own Plants from Seed, Soil and Amendments, Irrigation, Mapping, Planting, Season Extenders and Backyard Beekeeping. Three hundred seventy two (372) citizens attended. Approximately 1/3 of the audience were first time gardeners. 

One-on-one Contacts in the Office and the Community – Specially trained CMG diagnosticians assist the public and Green Industry with plant problems. Volunteers staff the Plant Diagnostic Clinic weekdays from May-September, diagnosing plant diseases, identifying plants and insects, then providing appropriate solutions for clientele. In 2013, Jefferson County Master Gardeners devoted 1460 hours to one-on-one contacts by phone, office walk-ins, emails, LawnCheck, and the Plant Diagnostic Clinic.

Golden Farmers' Market
Farmers' Markets and Other Information Booths – CMG volunteers staff educational booths at weekend Farmer’s Markets in three Jefferson County communities. In addition to answering 
the public’s questions and providing educational materials, volunteers present a short demonstration about a timely topics periodically throughout the day. In 2013, Jefferson County Master Gardeners had contact with 8160 individuals through information booths.

Courage Garden – In cooperation with Victims Outreach International and Jefferson County, CMG volunteers help honor victims of violence in this peaceful garden setting. CMG volunteers designed and planted some of the contemplative spots within the larger garden. Today, volunteers plant, identify and label plants; they are also developing a comprehensive plant list with site recommendations. Volunteers present quarterly brown bag lunch programs on site.

Jeffco Gardener Blog and Colorado Mountain Gardener Blog– Staffed by dedicated CMG volunteers, the blogs discuss current happenings and provides timely how-to’s for 170,000+ on-line readers. About 60 articles from the blog appear yearly in various print publications including the Denver Post’s Your Hub section.

Learning to garden

Youth Projects 
In cooperation with the local 4-H program, Master Gardeners developed curriculum and taught a week-long science camp science camp for 56 3rd graders. All of the studies and experiments demonstrated the power of plants.   Children were surprised to learn that they could eat snacks that tasted good and were healthy for them. In another class series, Master Gardeners taught an 8 week course to 4-H Clover Buddies, the pre-4-H age group. Children grew and harvested vegetables, finishing the class series by preparing (and eating!) a meal from the vegetables in their garden.

Pumpkin Decorating!
We are looking forward to 2014 and making a difference in the lives of individuals and building a stronger community.  We hope to have fun and share our passion for gardening with clients and friends. Here’s to a successful gardening year!