- Author: Maria Murrietta
- Author: Marisa Coyne
For the past three months, COVID-19 and social distancing requirements have changed the way the UC Master Gardener Program serves our mission to extend trusted gardening information. With a resurgence of interest in gardening, UC Master Gardener volunteers adapted to the pandemic using new and innovative ways to share gardening support and help.
This is the fourth feature of a four-part blog series. Read our earlier posts about how volunteers in Amador County learned new skills and quickly brought program resources online in Part 1 of this 4-part series. Explore how volunteers in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties created the “Great Tomato Plant Share' in Part 2 of this 4-part series. San Diego County was featured in Part 3 of this 4-part series for how quickly they adapted and brought classes online for UC Master Gardener trainees.
Join us as we celebrate the innovation, creativity, and flexibility of UC Master Gardener volunteers and county staff during this unique time!
SAN LUIS OBISPO
Across the state program coordinators for the UC Master Gardener Program have been working tirelessly to stay up to date on local and state health guidance, support volunteers with the transition to online training, maintain relationships with community partners, and more. In some counties, the ‘new normal' for county-based employees have included work at emergency response facilities.
In San Luis Obispo County, Maria Murrietta is serving her community as a disaster service worker. Twice a week from March through June, Murrietta has delivered food from the food bank to high-risk residents in San Luis Obispo County. These vulnerable residents are unable to venture out to get supplies or groceries because they are following strict self-quarantine guidelines. The disaster service program is the result of a collaboration between the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo and San Luis Obispo County.
At noon every Tuesday and Friday, Murrietta joins delivery drivers at one of five food delivery hubs throughout the county. Once Murrietta reaches her pick-up location, she collects two bags of food (one full of dry goods, the other packed with produce) for each adult, in each home on her list. Site leaders provide delivery drivers with route information, special instructions, and face masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer to ensure their safety and the safety of residents.
Upon arrival at each residence, Murrietta makes contact by phone or at a safe distance, with each recipient to ensure they received the delivery. “Having that brief contact with the recipients has been so gratifying,” says Murrietta. “I've visited many of them multiple times and they were all so appreciative of the extra help. Lots of ‘bless you' and ‘thank you' and reminders to ‘be careful out there'. Even neighbors of the recipients have thanked me for helping their community members. One home in particular always leaves a different handwritten thank you note taped to her front door. I take a photo of each one. One resident at a senior facility told me about the wonderful soup she makes with the big bag of produce she receives.”
Murrietta is confident that the produce being delivered is of high quality – because a portion of it is grown by volunteers in San Luis Obispo County. The UC Master Gardener Program of San Luis Obispo County has been harvesting and donating fresh fruits and vegetables to the food bank since 2016. Last year was its best year yet with more than 1100 lbs. of fresh produce donated from its vegetable beds and fruit orchard.
“UC Master Gardener volunteers have been working hard to keep this up during the statewide shelter-in-place order. They were among the first groups to be approved as essential workers - according to the early UC ANR guidelines - so they could continue this vital work,” says Murrietta. “They continue to adjust as the procedures continue to change, even when, for a short time, the food bank stopped accepting donations from non-commercial growers. During this brief break, our lead UC Master Gardener volunteer went to work and found two additional locations in our region that were happy to accept fruits and vegetables - the Salvation Army food pantry and our local homeless services center!”
Murrietta reports that demand at the food bank has tripled since March 2020 and that seed racks at two local nurseries are nearly empty. “Food insecurity is not a new topic, but is a new concern for many people for the first time,” explains Murrietta. In San Luis Obispo County, residents can benefit from UC Master Gardener Program harvests, in the form of produce donations, and from gardening education that the volunteers provide to the public. “I think this time of COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of what UC Master Gardeners can offer a community, and it has reminded UC Master Gardener volunteers of how important their work is,” notes Murrietta. “Their skills and knowledge and their desire to contribute go beyond helping other gardeners have a pretty landscape!”
While COVID-19 has affected all communities and volunteers differently, the resilience, creativity, and flexibility, of UC Master Gardener volunteers and coordinators alike, continues to inspire and impress. The stories featured in this four-part series here are a small snapshot of the innovation and strength that this food community and garden education community has to offer.
Please note: Reappointment for the 2020/2021 Program Year began on June 1st and ends July 30th. The UC Master Gardener Program celebrates and appreciates ALL volunteers, regardless of their ability to contribute hours during this unprecedented time. Volunteers who choose to remain active and reappoint will be approved, regardless of the number of volunteer or continuing education hours completed this year. Volunteers will not be responsible for making up any incomplete volunteer and continuing education hours in the following program year. However, all volunteers must complete reappointment to remain active or limited active in the UC Master Gardener Program.
- Author: Marisa Coyne
- Contributor: Melissa G. Womack
COVID-19 is having a tremendous impact on social, environmental, and economic conditions throughout the state of California and across the globe. Collectively we have endured a series of losses, from financial security to the lives of loved ones. We have had to adapt to shifts in our way-of-life, and vision a new, safe future for our communities.
Volunteerism and the many benefits of gardening have recently seen a flood of interest from local and national news media. While much about the future is still uncertain, it is clear that the UC Master Gardener Program's work to extend practical, research-based home horticulture, integrated pest management, and sustainable landscaping information is more relevant than ever before.
COVID-19 related shelter-in-place orders, social distancing requirements, and public or individual health threats have changed the way UC Master Gardener volunteers engage with community members and with each other. Most volunteers have had to limit their participation following federal, state, local, and UC system-wide guidance. Many volunteers are simultaneously balancing childcare, eldercare, work, and personal responsibilities, resulting in limited time for volunteer commitments. For some volunteers, this global crisis has led to engagement in new and innovative extension methods.
Join us over the next two weeks as we share a four-part series of stories that celebrate the innovation, creativity, and flexibility of UC Master Gardener volunteers and county staff during this unique time!
“When California went into shelter-in-place, our public education team stepped up to ensure the public would still be able to connect with UC Master Gardener volunteers and receive gardening information and support,” said Tracy Celio, UC Master Gardener program coordinator in Amador County.
UC Master Gardener volunteer, Ed Bass, was especially committed, teaching himself how to use video software to create educational gardening content. Bass shared his videos about spring gardening and using compostable materials in raised beds on social media on the UC Master Gardener Program of Amador County's Facebook page. After a couple of successful videos with high engagement, Celio proposed an online public workshop via Zoom. “We chose to feature a virtual tour of the Heritage Rose Garden followed by a question and answer session with our UC Master Gardener rose experts,” said Celio.
Ed Bass shot and edited the virtual rose garden tour video, working alongside fellow volunteer and workshop instructor Judy Woods. Bass and Woods worked closely together to develop a strategy for the online tour and how to best meet its learning objectives. UC Master Gardener volunteer, Doris Mosblech, jumped aboard to help trouble-shoot and manage the Zoom waiting room and chat.
“Because of Ed's flexibility, enthusiasm, and willingness to try something new, UC Master Gardener volunteers in Amador County have been able to stay engaged with our community. We could not have done it without him,” said Celio.
Visit the UCCE Master Gardener Program of Amador County Facebook page to view more exciting videos and virtual content.
While COVID-19 has affected all communities and volunteers differently, the resilience, creativity, and flexibility of UC Master Gardener volunteers and coordinators continue to inspire and impress. The stories featured in this four-part series here are a small snapshot of the innovation and strength that this food community and garden education community has to offer. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the 4-part series on Growing Creativity in the COVID-19 Era.
Please note: Reappointment for the 2020/2021 Program Year began on June 1st and ends July 30th. The UC Master Gardener Program celebrates and appreciates all volunteers, regardless of their ability to contribute hours during this unprecedented time. Volunteers who choose to remain active and reappoint will be approved, regardless of the number of volunteer or continuing education hours completed this year. Volunteers will not be responsible for making up any incomplete volunteer and continuing education hours in the following program year. However, all volunteers must complete reappointment to remain active or limited active with the UC Master Gardener Program.
- Author: Donna Valadez
The UC Master Gardener Program is pleased to announce the winners of the 40th Anniversary UC Master Gardener Photo Contest. Thank you for helping tell our story by submitting over 480 photos and to all the people who voted.
“People's Choice” Winners
1st - “Lettuce Grow”, My Thanh Kim, San Diego County
2nd - “Early Head Start Students”, Marti Lindsey, Los Angeles County
3rd - “Stairway to a Heavenly Garden”, Leora Worthington, Monterey County
First, Second and Third place winners were notified by email and will receive prizes and be showcased on the statewide UC Master Gardener Program website, UC ANR Repository, UC Master Gardener social media channels, program marketing materials and the 2019 annual report. Winners will also be recognized by having their photo displayed in a gallery at the 2020 UC Master Gardener Program statewide conference.
Thank You for your Support
Thank you to everyone who participated in the Photo Contest! The gallery of submitted photos represents what it means to be a UC Master Gardener. The photos will be used to communicate our impact, message and mission through the use of imagery.
Together we are making a difference!
4th - “Kids+tools= Cool School Garden”, My Thanh Kim, San Diego County
5th - “Drip Irrigation or Dripping in Paint”, My Thanh Kim, San Diego County
6th - “Queen Bee surrounded by her Entourage at the Master Gardener booth, Amador County Fair”, Betty Olson-Jones, Amador County
7th - “Master Gardener Butterfly Garden (Alice Keck Memorial Garden Santa Barbara)”, Karen Twibell, Santa Barbara County
8th - “MG Coordinator, Maggie O'Neill is also a cake decorator! Celebrating Volunteers”, Robin Rowe, San Bernardino County
9th - “Future UC Master Gardener!”, Lauren Snowden, Yuba-Sutter Counties
10th - “Working Together for better gardens”, Julie Enberg
- Author: Marisa A Coyne
It's reappointment time for the UC Master Gardener Program! Before the reappointment process begins we would like to say thank you. Our dedicated volunteers are the heart of the UC Master Gardener Program. You make our program impact possible. We hope you'll join us for another year of extending research-based home horticulture, pest management, and sustainable landscape information to Californians.
Annual reappointment is a requirement for all volunteers working with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR). Please read this update thoroughly and direct any questions regarding the reappointment process to your program's UC Master Gardener Coordinator, Advisor, or County Director. Reappointment will be taking place from June 1 through July 31, 2019, across the state of California. The process for reappointment can be done in 3 easy steps!
Step One: Select “Please Complete!” in VMS
• Log into VMS, vms-mg.ucanr.edu/
• Select “Please Complete!” under "Reappointment" in right column of your VMS home screen
Step Two: Complete all three sections to fulfill county requirements for participation
Step Three: Verify Date Completed Displays and Print a Copy for your Records
Quick Tips and FAQ's:
Who must complete the reappointment process?
The reappointment process is mandatory for all UCCE Master Gardeners with the following status and achievement including:
Active AND Limited Active
• First Year Master Gardener
• Master Gardener
• Gold Badge
• Platinum Badge
How many hours do I need to volunteer for reappointment?
The minimum hours required to remain a certified UC Master Gardener volunteer are:
• 25 hours - Volunteer
• 12 hours - Continuing education
Note: First-year UC Master Gardener volunteers are required to complete a minimum of 50 volunteer hours (no continuing education requirement) before the next certification cycle.
What is the date range for calculating hours for reappointment?
Hours should be reported for the period of July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019.
Where do I send my payment?
Please check with your county Coordinator, Director or Advisor about fees and where and how to submit payment. The statewide office does not collect fees or payment directly from volunteers for reappointment.
- Author: Janet Hartin
It's a scary time of year! Plants are amazing life forms, coming in a wide array of forms, shapes, and colors. Here are some of my favorite Halloween plants that are sure to scare the living daylights out of you!
Doll's Eyes (Actaea pachypoda)
Devil's Claw or Ram's Horn (Proboscidea louisianica)
This unfriendly looking species is native to the South Central USA and sports a unique horn-shaped pod. In addition to its attention-grabbing visual appeal, pigments contained in the pod are used for black dyes by several Native American tribes.
Bleeding Tooth Fungus (Hydellum peckii)
White Ghosts or Indian Pipes (Monotropa uniflora)
These eye-catching specimens have bright white droopy flowers reminiscent of ghosts found in spooky dark, dank basements. They hide in shady spots and live in a symbiotic relationship with a fungus in their roots providing food.