- Author: Dohee Kim
Before her official retirement date at the end of June, I chatted briefly with Yvonne to ask her several questions.
Who or what got you into gardening?
My folks purchased our Pasadena property because of a heritage oak. They created pathways throughout the hillside, planted fruit trees and drove annually to the dairy, where Pasadena High School now stands, to load up on fresh manure and lay it down as mulch. My mom grew lots of vegetables, and my dad took care of the fruit trees. I grew up eating seasonally, and whatever was in the garden determined what we had for dinner. Also, my years living in Davis (to work at the university) affected my gardening tasks and skills. For the first time, I experienced real cold and heat, and what they meant in the garden.
You are widely recognized as the person responsible for much of the success of the UC Master Gardener Program in Los Angeles County. How does that feel?
Our wonderfully generous Master Gardener volunteers are the reason that 1.3 million people in Los Angeles know how to grow their own food. I have just been providing the avenue so they can follow through with their nurturing passions. Since 1994, we've trained 1,127 volunteers! From a single tomato plant to providing all the produce for their families, Los Angeles County residents learned how to feed their families, connect with their neighbors and garden sustainably!
What's changed in gardening during your 21 years with UC Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County?
When we re-started the Master Gardener Program in 1995, only gardeners were interested in growing their own food; now, the general public is eager to join in connecting health and exercise to community beautification, sharing and intergenerational appreciation and cooperation.
Is there a fruit or vegetable that you find satisfying to grow?
Everything, of course! There's always something new and exciting to explore.
Can you describe a memorable day with the Master Gardener Program?
Every single day! I thrive on hearing the excitement of Master Gardeners enthusing about their latest project in their community and school gardens as well as enabling other gardeners to grow and taste their own first pea or broccoli.
Now, what's next for you? What's your goal in your next phase?
My personal website/blog: www.GardeningInLA.net. The site is a resource center of information about our local micro-climates, and it will offer an opportunity for Southern California gardeners to submit events, volunteer opportunities and job opportunities for everyone to benefit.