- 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.
The passion for affecting positive change in Inyo and Mono County has earned the Master Gardeners there the honor of being named the Community Group of the Year in 2010. The Master Gardeners in that county are a fairly new group with their first class training held in 2009-2010. However, they are a very enthusiastic group with inspiring goals and ambitions that are clearly aligned with the ANR Strategic Initiatives. In a very short time and in a small community, they are up to 80 Master Gardeners. Their main projects are really focused on sustainable food systems which is especially important because of the isolation factor for many of the residents. It is a two hour or more drive to the closest Costco! They have worked extensively with Easter Sierra Harvest and Plant-A-Row, and are developing a community/ demonstration garden. In addition, they are teaching classes in the community, focused on sustainable food growing and collaborating with a variety of groups in the county. To quote Kerry Lozito, one of the volunteer coordinators of the group, "It's not about getting the training and going back home to grow pretty roses.” “It's about giving back." Congratulations to Inyo Mono County Master Gardeners!!!
Two grasses have recently been discussed by PlantRight and other organizations with concerns about invasive ornamental grassses. Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima) and Chilean Needle grass (Nassella neesiana) are two grasses in particular that have invasive tendancies. Both are being phased our of production by the nursery industry and alternatives are suggested. A recent publication describes the potential extent of invasion of Chilean needle grass, Nassella neesiana (Cyperales: Poaceae), in the United States. Under current climate conditions, researchers predict that N. neesiana may become invasive on the west coast and in the coastal southeastern United States. The publication also describes the weed's potential distribution based on six future climate scenarios.
Nassella neesiana is unpalatable to livestock and its awns penetrate the fibers, skin, and muscle of grazing animals, resulting in reduced market values for these products. Native to South America, N. neesiana is also known to occur in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Australia, and New Zealand. In the United States, N. neesiana is known to occur in Alabama.
A suggested alternative to both grasses might be Bouteloua gracilis "Blond Ambition". (See photo left) Currently it is availble through High Country Gardens at: http://www.highcountrygardens.com/catalog/product/27061/
1. Bourdôt, G. W., S. L. Lamoureaux, M. S. Watt, L. K. Manning, and D. J. Kriticos. 2010. The potential global distribution of the invasive weed Nassella neesiana under current and future climates. Biological Invasions DOI: 10.1007/s10530-010-9905-6. Last accessed January 6, 2011, from http://www.springerlink.com/content/53hn2q843272qu06/fulltext.pdf.
- Author: James A. Sigala
Happy New Year!
The California Garden Website is currently being updated, sorry for any inconveniences, since there are a few missing links. This website should be fully operational by February 2011.