COLUMBUS, Ohio -- From money management to environmental stewardship to good gardening practices, Ohio State University Extension Master Gardeners are finding ways to be more "green." They'll showcase their efforts during Master Gardener Volunteer Program Week May 17-23.
Master Gardener Volunteer Program Week, which began last year, honors the hard work and dedication of master gardener volunteers throughout Ohio and recognizes OSU Extension's efforts in promoting the Master Gardener volunteer program. The program provides leadership and educational development to individuals interested in gardening and giving back to their communities.
"Master Gardeners Volunteers Teaching 'Green'" is this year's theme for Master Gardener Volunteer Program Week and activities and programs will be held throughout Ohio's counties emphasizing that theme.
"Master Gardener volunteers have been green for a long time and we just keep getting better. We are the go-to source for non-biased gardening information in Ohio communities," said Pam Bennett, OSU Extension statewide Master Gardener Volunteer coordinator. "Volunteers are helping communities and residents learn about and implement projects such as rain gardens, low-impact pest management strategies, best plant selection options for minimal input, backyard vegetable gardens, and much more."
The Master Gardener volunteer program began in Ohio in the 1970s. The program provides intensive training in horticulture to interested individuals who then volunteer their time assisting with educational programs and activities for Ohio residents through their local OSU Extension county office.
More than 3,100 Master Gardeners volunteer their time and services in 67 Ohio counties. In 2008, volunteers contributed nearly 120,000 hours to Ohio communities and raised over $200,000 in donations to conduct programming in their communities.
The volunteers participate in a variety of activities, including conducting educational programs for consumers on best gardening practices; developing demonstration gardens highlighting best management practices; conducting research on plant varieties recommended for Ohio; working with neighbors in a community garden setting; teaching people how to plant, maintain and harvest a vegetable garden in the city; and continuing to provide outreach for OSU Extension.
"The grassroots efforts taking place in the counties are deserving of the Master Gardener Volunteer Program Week recognition. Volunteers are quietly making a difference in their communities focusing on a variety of quality of life issues," said Bennett. "Volunteers often do their projects with little or no funding; therefore, partnerships are a large component of each program in each county."
The following counties are holding events, programs and activities in celebration of Master Gardener Volunteer Program Week:
• Clark County -- Master Gardeners will donate trees to the National Trail Parks and Recreation District to replace the damage done by Hurricane Ike. Over winter, Security National Bank offered online banking customers the opportunity to make a contribution to a local green industry or organization. The Clark County Master Gardener Volunteers were chosen for the February project and for every dollar the bank's customers donated, the bank provided a matching sum. The organization received the funds in March and voted to give the funding back to the community by planting trees.
• Delaware County -- Master Gardeners will partner with the Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District to plant a redbud tree at the Soil and Water Conservation Learning Garden located at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. The planting will take place May 16. For more information, contact the OSU Extension office in Delaware County at (740) 833-2030.
• Erie County -- Erie County Master Gardeners will work on two projects to help residents get started on their spring and summer gardening tasks. Volunteers will spiff up the Erie County Fairgrounds on May 16 by cleaning and thinning flowerbeds, and adding compost and mulch. On May 18, OSU Extension and Master Gardener volunteers will offer a workshop called "Gardening 101: Just the Basics" from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. in the kitchen of the Erie County Service Center at 2900 Columbus Avenue in Sandusky. The workshop is free and open to the public. Topics include: where to place your garden, how to prepare the garden bed, what garden tools are needed, how many plants to buy, reading seed packages and plant tags, when to plant, watering, fertilizing, and garden design. For more information, or to RSVP, contact the OSU Extension office in Erie County at (419) 627-7631.
• Fairfield County -- Master Gardeners will maintain the plants and flowers around the Fairfield County Courthouse and Hall of Justice in Lancaster. The Courthouse Garden Project was established in 1998, and each year Master Gardeners come together to clean, plant and prune the garden. The efforts help increase awareness and learning among county employees and visitors.
• Hamilton County -- Master Gardener volunteers will help plant the Master Gardener garden at the Floral Paradise Gardens in Delhi Township on May 22 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Delhi Township was once home to almost 60 greenhouses that supplied flowers and plants to the tri-state region. Many of the businesses are now closed; the Floral Paradise Gardens are a tribute to that heritage. During the event, OSU Extension educator Dave Dyke will give an update on contour plantings and rain gardens, and park staff will provide tours. For more information, contact Joan Gillespie at (513) 451-3300 or Peggy Berninger at (513) 763-0016.
• Hancock County -- Master Gardeners will lead two projects. They will complete the Alzheimer unit gardens at Birchaven, a local retirement center, and they will co-sponsor a community rain barrel-making workshop.
• Huron County -- Master Gardeners will kick off the week with their annual plant sale. On May 20, the volunteers are co-sponsoring an evening program on canning and preserving produce, called "Preserve the Fruits of Your Labors." On May 22, volunteers will plant annuals in Norwalk's uptown squares, with special emphasis on business corners chosen to memorialize or honor individuals. A new landscape beautification project a local homeless shelter will also take place.
To find more activities and events during Master Gardener Volunteer Program Week, or to learn more about the OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer program, log on to http://mastergardener.osu.edu, or contact Pam Bennett at (937) 328-4607 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.