Sunday, February 22, 2015

Master gardeners meet community gardeners

Today I participated in a gathering of community gardeners and UW-Extension Master Gardeners to see how the two groups could be mutually beneficial one another. I represented the American Family Community Garden as our garden coordinator. I knew I would see some familiar faces, and indeed did get to renew friendships with community garden leaders I meet once a year at the autumn community garden leader potluck, including Annette from Atwood community garden, and Shelly from Community Groundworks. I also met Gail, who lives on Dayton, just one street over. Throughout the meeting, she and I passed notes about ideas we have to establish a community garden in our neighborhood.

During the morning, we were encouraged to look for opportunities for master gardeners to get involved with community gardens. It started with a lovely breakfast and lots of time for networking. Then there was in a panel of community garden leaders who gave a brief history of their gardens, and then answered questions about how they thought community gardens and Master Gardeners could collaborate.
A panel discussion involved community garden leaders from new gardens that started just last year, to a garden that was started by a woman on the panel before I was born!
My favorite part followed the panel discussion. Community garden coordinators were interspersed throughout the room, one at a table with six to eight Master Gardeners. We then brainstormed ideas for mutual collaborations. One of the ideas my table came up with was to establish a long-term relationship between a garden and a master gardener. We would foster this relationship with monthly talks at the garden, consisting of perhaps a half hour of a particular seasonal topic, followed by a Q&A on any topic. There is a speed dating event in a couple of weeks to match community gardens with master gardeners, and I hope to attend.

I know I'm new to community gardens, in fact, one of the  community garden panelists started a garden before I was born; but it seems in the few years I have been involved with local community gardens, there is a renewed sense of excitement, and even urgency to build new gardens and involve more people in them.