- Author: John Stumbos
A greener vision of the home landscape is taking shape throughout California with the help of volunteer master gardeners and the California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH).
The center, a statewide program begun at UC Davis in 2007, is holding educational workshops in various locations that will help master gardeners and other gardening enthusiasts learn more earth-friendly gardening techniques.
The first five “Your Sustainable Backyard” workshops were held in 2009 and 2010 and focused on roses, fruit trees, and edible landscaping. More than 800 people attended those events.
Five more workshops are in development for 2011. Two have been confirmed:
- “Your Sustainable Backyard: Landscaping for California” — April 9, 2011, the ARC ballroom at UC Davis. Speakers include landscape architect and author Bob Perry and author/garden photojournalist Deborah Baldwin.
- “Your Sustainable Backyard: Roses” — April 30, 2011, Foundation Plant Services at UC Davis. This event will also include a rose sale.
The idea for the workshops grew out of the “Global Climate Change in your Backyard” conference held at UC Davis in 2008. “The feedback we got indicated a strong desire for hands-on demonstrations of specific gardening tasks,” said CCUH program manager Missy Borel. “So we brainstormed and came up with these cost-effective, high-quality educational workshops for gardeners to learn usable skills they could take home and share with other people.”
Master gardeners are public educators trained by university experts in horticulture, pest management, and related home gardening topics. California Master Gardener programs, currently serving 45 counties, are experiencing phenomenal growth. UC’s Statewide Master Gardener coordinator Pamela Geisel says they’re seeing a 28 to 30 percent annual increase in the number of master gardeners, totaling about 4,700 individuals as of early 2010.
“We’re seeing greater attendance at all our workshops,” Geisel says. “In the past, you might have had six people show up to learn about vegetable gardening. Now, they’re filling up right away, with long waiting lists.”
Geisel says it’s not just about locally produced food. “More people than ever are interested in learning how to reduce the use of fertilizers and pesticides, to conserve and protect water resources, and to eliminate landfill waste through green waste composting,” she said.
“Gardening practices are going to change because of climate change, water shortages, and other factors,” Borel adds. “Our workshops empower people to do that correctly. We’re setting them up for success.”