Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Evergreen Earth Day Festival By Grace Olson

Apprentice Master Gardener Judy Huckeby and Master Gardener Laura McReynolds (right)
    Saturday, April 23, rung in the Evergreen Earth Day Festival with a dusting of snow across the shores of the town’s lake. Volunteers from the Colorado Master Gardener program braved the weather with other non-profit organizations in order to represent the Jefferson County Extension at this popular annual event.

    “It’s important to let the community know we’re here,” said Master Gardener Laura McReynolds, who has been volunteering at the event for the past three years. “It gives us exposure, and lets people know we are always here to answer their questions.”

    And the slushy, April snowstorm outside made it clear that there are plenty of questions for the gardeners of Evergreen.

    “I’m a farm girl from Iowa,” explained Janiece Gallup, from the Shaklee booth, who had stopped to chat with the Master Gardeners. “There, you put a seed in the ground and the sucker grows. Here, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

McReynolds points out informational fact sheets to Cheryl Manning, director of the Evergreen High School Environmental Club. Manning dressed as Mother Earth in honor of the Festival.
    Indeed, volunteers spent the day fielding questions on fencing, the two-month growing season, elk, aphids and hail. Some visitors wanted to vent their frustrations. Others indulged in devising unique, four-letter-words for their resident voles and deer. Some even passed by the Master Gardener booth, professing that the unreliable weather and “critters” had beaten them into submission.

    According to six-year Master Gardener Chris Gray of Evergreen, there’s no excuse for admitting defeat.   “It’s a matter of wanting to, and wanting to learn how to do it,” she said.

    Gray, who has volunteered at the Evergreen Earth Day Festival for the past five years, has seen patterns in the questions put to herself and fellow Master Gardeners. Most recently, she said, the questions have been about native plants and how to grow your own food.

McReynolds discusses the Colorado Master Gardener Program with Rachel Vezina of Westminster.
    The Colorado Master Gardener Program is designed to help people learn how. Through a series of fact sheets posted on its website, a call center and outreach programs like the booth at the Evergreen Earth Day Festival, the program seeks to educate the public. According to, the program is “committed to using horticulture to empower gardeners, develop partnerships, and build stronger communities.”    And that, say volunteers, is a pretty great way to celebrate Mother Earth.

    For more information on the Colorado Master Gardener Program, or to obtain tips on gardening in Jefferson County, visit or call a volunteer at the Plant Care Center at (303) 271-6620.