Posts Tagged: Master Gardeners
National Farm to School Month. Education and outreach activities such as school gardens, cooking lessons and field trips are teaching students about healthy, local foods and food's journey from the farm to their forks.
There are plenty of opportunities for teachers and schools to celebrate and get involved in National Farm to School Month with the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR). Here are a few ideas to get you started.
4-H youth development
Launch a 4-H Club at your school. The 4-H Youth Development Program emphasizes enrichment education through inquiry-based learning. Core content areas include Healthy Living as well as Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Clubs have access to a wealth of curricula materials exploring food, agriculture and natural resources. 4-H also offers the Ag in the Classroom school enrichment program.
Invite UC ANR academics and program staff to your career day or science fair or to make a classroom presentation. Specialists from Master Gardeners, Nutrition Education, Project Learning Tree, California Naturalist and other UC ANR programs know how to engage and inspire your students.
Some programs, including Project Learning Tree, offer "train the trainer" professional development workshops that equip educators with the skills and knowledge to teach concepts in their own classrooms. Project Learning Tree also provides free activity guides to teachers who attend their workshops. The guides highlight differentiated instruction, reading connections, and assessment strategies and offer ideas to integrate technology into classroom instruction,
Research and Extension Centers
Take your students on a field trip to a UC ANR Research and Extension Center (REC). The nine RECs in California are focal points for community participation and for active involvement in current and relevant regional agricultural and natural resource challenges.
Visiting a REC offers students a unique opportunity to learn about food production through the lens of applied science research in plant pathology, integrated pest management, conservation tillage, water conservation, development of new crop varieties, and much more. Some RECs also host extended education programs such as Sustainable You! Summer Camp and FARM SMART.
The 2016 National Farm to School Month theme is One Small Step, which highlights the easy ways anyone can get informed, get involved and take action to advance farm to school in their own communities and across the country.
Each week will have a different focus:
- Education (October 3-7)
- Healthy School Meals (October 10-14)
- Farmers & Producers (October 17-21)
- The Next Generation (October 24-28)
Join the celebrations by signing the One Small Step pledge then take your own small step to support healthy kids, thriving farms and vibrant communities this October by partnering with UC ANR.
This story en español.
“Mature fruit trees and landscape trees are worth saving!” said Janet Hartin, UC Cooperative Extension advisor. “Recognizing early signs of drought stress is important because irreversible damage can occur that no amount of watering will correct.”
Two seasons without enough water can result in severe drought stress and even kill a tree, warned Hartin, who serves San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles counties. Also, drought-stressed trees are more prone to damage from diseases and insects than non-stressed trees.
Common symptoms of drought stress include
- Wilting or drooping leaves that do not return to normal by evening
- Curled or chlorotic (yellow) leaves that may fold or drop
- Foliage that becomes grayish and loses its green luster
- New leaves that are smaller than normal
“One or two deep irrigations with a garden hose several weeks apart in spring and summer will often keep these valued plants alive, especially if their roots are relatively deep,” she said.
“An important thing to consider when you're trying to conserve water in the garden and landscape is that plant water requirements vary,” said Hartin, an expert in environmental horticulture. “Water needs are directly related to the evapotranspiration rate of each particular plant. To meet the water needs of plants, you have to replace the water used by the plant and the moisture that evaporates from the soil surface.”
Besides differences among water requirements among plant species, microclimates within a climate zone affect how much water a plant will need and how often a plant should be watered, as well.
“Landscape plants in urban heat islands surrounded by asphalt parking lots may require 50 percent more water than the same species in a park setting,” Hartin said.
Also, soil type plays a large role in how often landscape and garden plants should be irrigated. Sandy soils drain faster and take water in faster than those containing clay and require more frequent irrigation. Water can soak down 12 inches in 15 minutes in sandy soil, whereas the water may take 2 hours to reach the same depth in clay soil and will spread out more horizontally.
“Dig into the roots,” she said. “Take a handful of soil and squeeze it. That'll give you a good idea of whether the soil is really dry and crumbly, which means it's not holding any water, or if it's medium, where it's just starting to crumble, but still holding together fairly well. We recommend waiting to irrigate until the soil just starts to crumble.”
To see a video of Hartin's presentation “How to Save Water and Beautify Your Landscape the Sustainable Way,” visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MN4b5DML-bs. For water-saving gardening tips in Spanish, visit http://bit.ly/1uZ6Ztq and http://bit.ly/1xHNwQo. You can also consult the UC Master Gardeners in your community for advice. Check http://camastergardeners.ucanr.edu to find the nearest UC Cooperative Extension office to speak with a Master Gardener.
Factors involved in irrigation scheduling
- Plant water use
- Soil water holding capacity
- Water infiltration rate
- Plant rooting depth
- Irrigation system output
Missy Gable, the director of the UC's Statewide Master Gardener Program. Gable commiserated with Banks, saying her own homegrown tomatoes wound up with blossom end rot because of irrigation difficulties this year.
"I had the same experience that most people did," Gable said.
Banks began the 2014 summer gardening season like most home gardeners, full of hope and enthusiasm. But as fall approached she found herself with "a few spindly stalks of okra, a tangle of barren melon vines and a pepper plant loaded with misshapen pods."
Gable and another UC Cooperative Extension advisor, Janet Hartin, chalked up this year's garden frustrations in part to the state of California's water woes.
"A lot of people are calling and want to rip out their whole garden and just put in native plants," Hartin told the columnist.
But she and Gable assured the writer that vegetables are well worth the water it takes to grow them.
"... By growing fruits and vegetables, you're decreasing your carbon footprint," Gable said. "You're not using pesticides, not making trips to the grocery store.... The environmental and health benefits of home gardens are lasting and important."
Gable offered some suggestions to improve the chances for success:
- Add compost to the soil to provide nutrients and increase water-holding capacity
- Switch to water-conserving drip irrigation
- Insulate the soil surface with a thick layer of mulch
- Make careful planting decisions
"(Gable) steered me to a bevy of experts who take questions by email and phone through the University of California's Cooperative Extension Master Gardener program. I've bookmarked local planting guides and advice online at http://www.ucanr.edu," Banks wrote.
Educating the public was the focus of the Search for Excellence 2014 competition. The entries were judged by a team of experts selected from throughout the state.
"Congratulations to all the Master Gardeners involved in carrying out these innovative projects," Gable said. "This competition celebrates the hard work of dedicated UCCE Master Gardener volunteers across the state."
The Search for Excellence competition winners will be honored at the Master Gardeners Statewide Conference, Oct. 7-10 in Fish Camp, Calif. The next Search for Excellence competition will be in 2017.
First Place - Riverside County
“There's Gold in them thar hills!” Riverside County is a big county, stretching from the Los Angeles metro area to the Colorado River. The main challenge of the UCCE Master Gardener Program of Riverside County was how to better fulfill their mission of educating their community on sustainable gardening practices. The answer – “Gold Miners.” Riverside County was divided into nine geographic areas with a UCCE Master Gardener volunteer in each area actively pursuing volunteering opportunities for their peers. Since the program began in 2011, “Gold Miners” has increased the presence of UCCE Master Gardeners throughout the county, giving volunteers the opportunity to provide outreach closer to home, engage new members of the public and increase the number of certified UCCE Master Gardeners from all regions of the county.
Second Place - Santa Clara County
UCCE Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County developed a one-acre teaching and demonstration garden on the grounds of St. Louise Hospital in Gilroy. The demonstration garden was designed to create educational outreach opportunities in the far southern portion of the county. UCCE Master Gardener volunteers provide hands-on public workshops in the garden as well as classes in both the hospital boardroom and community libraries. The objectives of the St. Louise Hospital garden includes teaching residents about low-water vegetables, fruits, and ornamental plants well-suited to local growing conditions, and modeling sustainable gardening practices reflective of UC research-based horticultural principals.
Passionate volunteers from the UCCE Master Gardener Program of Orange County developed a series of 15 educational videos. Nine videos provide a comprehensive overview of the composting process and six videos concentrate on worm composting. Each series begins with an explanation of what composting is and shifts into how to start, maintain and troubleshoot a compost pile or worm bin. The videos are designed to instruct and encourage the gardening public to compost either at home or in community gardens. All of the educational videos were filmed and narrated by UCCE Master Gardeners. The videos are published on the UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County public website.
First Runner-up - Orange County
Recognizing the need to reach a significantly larger number of home gardeners than demonstration booths and Farmers Market tables were engaging, the UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County developed a speakers bureau. The criteria was simple: fulfill the mission of disseminating up-to-date, research-based information and to deliver "wow" presentations for the public. UCCE Master Gardeners created teaching plans, incorporating the statewide program mission and the ANR Strategic Vision to cover important topics such as gardening for improved nutrition and healthy living. Additionally, the UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County engaged the help of Toastmasters International, an undisputed authority for training speakers.
Second Runner-up - San Diego County
UCCE Master Gardeners of San Diego County created a program called MG Growing Opportunities (MG-GO) which provides research-based horticulture education to teenage youth involved with the juvenile justice system. Under the guidance of UCCE Master Gardeners and a vocational horticultural therapist, incarcerated youth learn about ecosystem friendly, sustainable gardening. In the process, the youth acquire vocational and life skills, such as teamwork, problem solving, self-esteem, and leadership. The goals of MG-GO are to introduce sustainable gardening practices to an under-served population, highlight gardening as a healing endeavor, and develop a replicable model for statewide use.
The UC Master Gardener Program provides the public with UC research-based information about home horticulture, sustainable landscaping, and pest management practices. It is administered by local UCCE county-based offices that are the principal outreach and public service arms of the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The UC Master Gardener Program is an example of an effective partnership between the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and passionate volunteers. In exchange for training from University of California, UCCE Master Gardener volunteers engage the public with timely gardening-related trainings and workshops. With programs based in 50 California counties and 6,048 active members, UCCE Master Gardener volunteers donated 385,260 hours last year and have donated more than 4.2 million hours since the program inception in 1981.
KCET "In-Ground Gardens" blog.
The UC Master Gardener Program trains volunteers to extend research-based information to the public about home horticulture and pest management.
In the KCET story, a few UCCE Master Gardeners of Los Angeles County share their tips for excellent garden gifts.
- Master Gardener Denise Friese suggested rain barrels, which collect water when it rains so it can be used between storms for irrigation. "Plus, there is a new rebate for rain barrels from the Metropolitan Water District," she said.
- Master Gardener Elizabeth Ostrom recommended moisture meters. "It's an excellent tool that lets you know if you are under/over watering. And over time, it acts as a teaching tool," she said.
- Master Gardener Jane Auerbach suggested a gift membership to a garden club, which offers abundant inspiration and, often, free classes with membership.
- Auerbach also recommended Felco pruners, "the gold standard" in gardening equipment.
- Yvonne Savio, the Master Gardener coordinator in LA County, recommended the California Master Gardener Handbook. Written by UC academics, the 700-page handbook is a gardening encyclopedia.