Oh, I love this time of year. The harvest is on for prunes, almonds, walnuts and soon, olives for processing into both table olives and olive oil. While making olive oil at home is possible, it isn't easy. But it is easy to cure your own olives at home using one of several great methods. You may cure them using the traditional lye cured method. They can be salt cured using black ripe olives, which creates a dry olive that is wonderful when rinsed and coated with good olive oil and chopped rosemary. You can water cure them or finally you can ferment them like one would ferment cucumbers for dill pickles. What is really great about olives though is that once they are cured, the real art comes down to the seasonings you apply to them. The cured olive is only a carrier for the seasonings and stuffing that add the final embellishment. For example, you could lye cure a green olive. Once cured, then you can stuff them with pimento, blanched almonds, feta cheese, anchovies or garlic and then store in packing salt brine solution. You can add different seasonings such as chopped oregano, crushed garlic, chopped dry red chilies and preserved lemon slices or fennel seeds. The options are endless but you do want to be sure that you process your olives in a way that is safe both in terms of handling lye and from a food safety perspective. You can learn these techniques at one of several olive workshops coming up. The first is being held at the Mondavi Center for Food and Wine at UC Davis Campus on September 24th. Cost is $45.00 and you can register by clicking on: http://ccuh.ucdavis.edu/events/your-sustainable-backyard-olives
The second workshop is being held near Chico at the historic Mills Orchard Ranch on October 1st. Cost is $20 and you can register at: http://ucanr.org/Olive2011
Both are being taught by UC Cooperative Extension Advisor Bill Krueger, Statewide Master Gardener Coordinator Pam Geisel and UC Master Food Preservers and a few others. The UC Davis class will also include an olive oil tasting.
For recipes on how to process olives safely go to our free publication at: http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/Olives/8267.aspx
Every year as the Statewide Master Gardener Coordinator, I am asked to create a report that our adminstration can share with the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA-USDA) on the work of the UC Master Gardener Program. It includes the number of volunteers, contacts and the like. I have just completed our report for FY 2010-11 and I find that I am awestruck by your volunteer efforts.
The volunteer hours you give and the quality of work you do is breathtaking. I take my hat off to the over 5,468 Certified Master Gardener Volunteers in California. In July 2010, we had 4837 volunteers. We observe a net increase of 571 Volunteers this year.
You donated 296,301 total volunteer hours in your role as Master Gardener this year, which is 38,285 more than last year. (and we still have 15 days left in the year.....). Following is a comparison of volunteer hours reported in previous years.
- In FY 05-06: 99,321
- In FY 06-07: 143,663
- In FY 07-08: 201,096
- In FY 08-09: 238,439
- In FY 09-10: 258,016
- In FY 10-11: 296,301
If you put a current market value on your volunteer hours, it totals almost $7 million dollars in value to the community and the University.
Your volunteer hours equals 142 full time staff assuming a 40 hour work week and 2080 work hours in a year).
In addition to your volunteer hours, the contacts reported this year are quite remarkable. Last year, we documented only about 600,000 contacts. This year, because of a little bit of training in how to collect contact data, you were able to document over 3 million face to face contacts.
What is more important than just the hours and contacts is the quality of work each and every county program has been delivering to our clientele. At the Statewide Master Gardener Conference in Santa Rosa, we were able to hear five terrific Search for Excellence(SFE) Presentations. At my table however, as each of the presenters gave their talk, someone would say "well, we do that too!" referring to garden tours, publications, garden guide publications, demonstration gardens, and other types of outreach SFE caliber efforts. What that says to me is that programs are all working in harmony to extend science-base sustainable landscape information and knowledge in meaningful and impactful ways but are not reporting on it or entering it into a competition. In any case, your work is really important to the communities in which you work, and to the university because you are the primary outreach arm to our home horticulture clientele. You bring the university to the people. I am so proud to be a part of this remarkable program and again bow before your amazing work. Great job UC Master Gardeners!!!
Report Totals for FY 2010-2011
Total Volunteers: 5,468
Total Volunteer Hours: 296,301 at $23.41 per hour =$6,936,406.00
Total Contacts: 3,086,326
Do you have an expert videographer in your MG Program? Have you developed short "how to" videos for your gardening public? I saw a great one on proper staking of tomatoes done by a Master Gardener and I thought that we should have a centralized MG YouTube Channel as a place for us to post our great "How To" videos. If you would like to post or view other MG educational videos here is the link to the You Tube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/UCCEMG?feature=mhee
Right now we don't have any posted but if you would like to share, just send me, via email to email@example.com, your video and I'll go ahead and post it for you. I am excited to see what you have done!
Get your video cameras out and start making those great educational videos! Until then, I look forward to seeing you next week at the Statewide Master Gardener Conference in Santa Rosa.
- Posted By: Pamela M. Geisel
- Written by: Robin Stanley, Master Gardener, El Dorado County
As Master Gardeners, we are all doing great things. Search for Excellence (SFE) gives us an opportunity to celebrate and share our accomplishments, by showcasing the tremendous talent of Master Gardeners throughout the state in creating innovative teaching programs. Their projects reflect the time and effort that is spent developing and implementing these educational tools. They are the essence of our mission as Master Gardeners to educate the public, and we salute them for a job well done! Although each submission had its own unique qualities, the judges chose the following counties and their projects for special awards and recognition. You will find the poster display of our 2011 entries in the Alexander Ballroom at the 2011 Statewide Conference in Santa Rosa June 1-3, 2011.
1st Place: Marin County Water Walks – The Bay-Friendly Garden Walks program is a partnership between Marin Master Gardeners and the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD). Started in 2007, the program provides home visits to improve landscape water efficiency. Specially trained Master Gardener teams conduct home visits to evaluate irrigation equipment, lawn use and maintenance, landscape plant placement, and watering techniques. Master Gardeners share tools and empower local gardeners to improve their gardens, conserve water, and save money. Homeowners receive a written summary of the evaluation, with suggestions for improvement. A statistical analysis is in progress. Master Gardeners in any county could adopt this program.
2nd Place: Orange County Farm & Food Lab at the OC Great Park - The Farm and Food Lab is a one-acre demonstration garden located at the Orange County Great Park in lrvine, California. The garden consists of twelve themed beds (Pizza Garden, Ethnic Garden, Edible Garden, Square Foot Garden, etc.) as well as an espaliered fruit tree orchard, blueberry container orchard, compost & vermicomposting exhibits, outdoor classroom area, and seasonal exhibits. Created to inspire and educate the public about the history of agriculture, basics of nutrition, and the origins of their food, the garden demonstrates best practices and sustainable home gardening techniques. It is designed, planted and maintained by Master Gardeners, who hold garden workshops (15 each season), act as docents in the garden, staff special events, and participate in organizing tours for schools and other groups.
3rd Place: San Joaquin County Garden Notes – After finding little success in convincing local newspapers to publish a column by Master Gardeners, the Writers Group developed Garden Notes, a quarterly electronic newsletter, which is distributed through an ever-growing email address list. This tool provides the widest dissemination of sustainable gardening information for the least cost. The current distribution to nearly 1,200 residents has broadened our reach and influence, leading to a more informed gardening community and, hopefully, greater acceptance of earth-friendly practices.
First Runner-up: Sacramento County 2011 Gardening Guide Calendar – Sacramento County Master Gardeners create an annual calendar that blends research, members’ experience and UC resources to address a broad spectrum of gardening issues and problems.
Second Runner-up (Three Way Tie):
Marin County 2010 Fair Demonstration Garden – Marin County Master Gardeners have created a demonstration garden that is the backdrop for a sustainability lecture series at their county fair. In 2010, they reached over 7000 people.
Contra Costa County Our Garden – Contra Costa Master Gardeners have partnered with the Contra Costa Times to create a large edible demonstration garden, where they hold seasonal weekly classes and maintain a help desk. All produce is donated to the local food bank.
Fresno County Smart Gardening Conference – Fresno County Master Gardeners have created a full day conference, held every two years, that helps gardeners see the value of making sustainable choices through presentations featuring best practices and current research-based gardening trends.
Thank you to our wonderful judges, who evaluated all the entries with great expertise and interest:
Dan Desmond - UCCE Advisor Emeritus, Food & Society Policy Fellow
Desmond’s career focused on garden-based learning and agricultural literacy, as well as an agritourism facility on his farm where he raises organic walnuts and grass-fed beef.
Glenn Finkbiner - Monrovia Nursery
Finkbiner began his career with Monrovia Growers in 1987 and later moved to Azusa, California to serve the San Joaquin Valley sales territory. Finkbiner was a 2008 Search for Excellence judge.
Gail Fulbeck - UCCE Master Gardener, El Dorado County
Fulbeck has 12 years experience as a Master Gardener where she has served many positions in the UCCE El Dorado program as well as the California Advisory and Conference Committees
Vince Lazaneo - Urban Horticulture Advisor, UCCE San Diego County
Lazaneo joined UCCE in 1977 and initiated a Master Gardener program in San Diego County in 1983 that supports 250 active volunteers. He has also been a garden columnist for the San Diego Union Tribune since 1983.
Lance Walheim - Garden Expert – Bayer Advanced Lawn & Garden Products
Many of you may know that we have been able to share our Volunteer Management System (VMS) with several other states. That income stream has allowed ANR Communication Services to hire some additional help to work on VMS issues for us in California. In light of that, there have been several changes that have been requested and approved that have recently been completed to the VMS program. Here they are:
- MERGE PROJECTS
Project merge can be done from the bottom of the “Edit Project Information” screen. When two projects are merged, all members, calendar events, and hours from project A will be given to project B. Then project A will cease to be! Simply view project A within the “Edit Project Information” screen and scroll down to the bottom. Select Project B as your destination project and hit ‘Merge Projects’.
- SEPARATE NAVIGATION FOR DOCUMENTS AND NEWSLETTERS
Documents and Newsletters have been separated into two separate pages. Users will see them as distinct menu items under the ‘General Information’ menu. On the admin side, the two can still be managed from the same page.
- ARCHIVING OLD DOCUMENTS OR NEWSLETTERS
To archive a Document or Newsletter group, simply open the group for editing from the admin screen and change the group type to ‘Archived’ using the corresponding radio button. Archived groups will remain visible to admins but will be invisible to users.
Also of interest: We’ve added a new demographic to the system! ‘Hawaiian & Pacific Islander’ demographic data fields are now present on the hours entry page, the contact report page, and on all contact report excel documents. If you have suggestions that might help to improve the usefulness of VMS, please let the Statewide MG Program Office know. While there is no guarantee the suggestions will be adopted, all will be reviewed for their applicability to the county programs.
Final note: All future changes to VMS will be documented as part of the statewide news blog.