There is an existing community garden in St. Helens, one in Scappoose, an evolving one in Vernonia in conjunction with the new school setting, and two in Clatskanie. In addition, several churches throughout the region are starting food bank gardens. These are very important efforts and help to improve both local food production for food banks and to increase gardening knowledge. It is critical that pour volunteers devoted significant hours to one of these gardens.
Located at the Columbia County Fairgrounds, this garden space is meant to educate the public about gardening techniques, design, new plant varieties, etc. Considerable time and effort is required to prepare, plant, and maintain the garden prior to, during, and for several months after the Fair. The public contact is mostly during County Fair in July. We want to promote more public activities there at other times of the year. Demo work parties are on Mondays, April through September from 10 a.m. to Noon.
Master Gardener volunteers manage booths are Farmers Markerts and fairs, in representation of Oregon State University Extension Service.
Several Master Gardeners from the 2010 class revived the insect collection. They have been attending curation get-togethers at the Experiment Station in Aurora. The collection travels in boxes to various clinic events, school talks, and the like. It is a great program with an interesting mission.
One day at the Oregon State Fair; five days at the Demonstration Garden at the Columbia County Fair in July. Other options explored as they come up. Diagnostic clinics answer public questions regarding plant identification and care, pest identification and management, and other topics covered in class. New Master Gardeners are certified and gain invaluable experience in these clinics. Veteran Master Gardeners need to re-certify by taking a written test before participating (maximum 6 hours continuing education credit upon completion of test).
We get a lot of requests for speakers from garden clubs and other groups. If you have a special gardening interest and wish to develop your speaking skills, you are needed. The OSU Extension Service office will provide help and guidance.
Newspapers and other venues are important in getting both our educational messages and Master Gardener Association information to the public. There are lots of opportunities to expand this effort.
For about 25 years, Darryl Boom and Chip have recorded a 10 minute gardening spot that broadcasts on KOHI every Saturday at 8:05 a.m. There are additional opportunities to do radio spots and public service announcements on gardening topics. Some skill with digital recording and access to suitable equipment required.
Scappoose Bay Watershed Council has an on-going project at Scappoose High School to raise native plants from seeds, cuttings and already started plants to be used for critical riparian area re-vegetation. Possibility of work with High School students although most of the work has been done by adult volunteers to date.
There is always a need for people to write for the OSU Columbia County Extension Service's newsletter, Country Living, to produce educational news releases, and do develop in-depth pieces for local or regional distribution (one of our Master Gardener's has written articles that were distributed statewide by OSU).
A number of Master Gardeners have been volunteering on an educational program at a Metro/ Sauvie Island Farms partnership teaching grade school children about farming and the ecology of the areas around the farm and park. The Vernonia Master Gardeners have been working on a garden in conjunction with the development of the new school and new curriculum. Some Master Gardeners in Clatskanie have been working on in-school programs there. A 4-H Gardening club is always a possibility.
Master Gardener volunteers are community educators. Some of the ways they serve in their communities, both online and in person, include:
Staff information booths about gardening at local farmers markets
Answer questions on county Master Gardener hotlines related to plants, insects, weeds
Research answers to gardening questions sent in via email to county extension offices
Staff community events and answer gardening questions to the public
Develop online training workshops for local gardeners
Speak at community events and give training on gardening techniques
Develop and distribute community outreach materials for local gardening initiatives
Use social and traditional media to deliver gardening tips to neighborhood community groups
Demonstrate sustainable gardening techniques at county fairs, home and garden shows
Support school gardening initiatives with educational components and hands-on activities
Manage and mentor in community gardens
There are eight points to consider when deciding whether or not to take on a new project -
Consistency With OSU Extension Master Gardener mission, vision, values and program priorities- Is it educational or busy work? Since extending reliable and research-based information to the public is the major goal of OSU Extension, consider the value of the project or program in the light of this mission.
Availability of Volunteer Staff - Are enough volunteers ready and active to help? Don't over extend either yourself or your organization.
Integrity - Integrity of the idea behind the project. Is it something you want to be associated with? Many organizations want to be associated with Master Gardeners, and you carry a lot of clout in your tie with the University and the Extension Service. Do some background work to make sure the organization requesting your service is legitimate and something you want to be connected with. It is important to do this before you agree to become involved.
Value - Is the project worth the time and effort? What is its value to the community? Your valuable time and talent should be used wisely, on well-thought-out, sound activities.
Tenure - Are there long-term benefits from the project to the community and to the Master Gardener Program?
Commitment - Are Master Gardeners committed to the project? Will you be expected to maintain this project endlessly? A well-planned project should have a definite completion time.
Publicity Value - Does the project spread the "OSU Extension Master Gardener word"?
Appeal - A project that is attractive to most Master Gardeners will be a lot easier to complete than one that only has the support of one or two. Also consider how many 'contacts' will be made as a result of the project. Keep in mind the total outcome and its value for the program in the long them.