Columbia County Master Gardeners

There are 41 members in the Columbia County Association, with 32 certified for 2015 and 8 trained in 2014.

In 2014 we volunteered

  • 98 hours in youth education
  • 291   hours in community education
  • 1,208   hours in support service
  • and participated in 617   hours in continuing education

We meet monthly throughout the year, except for December, and try to limit our business meetings to allow for continuing education at all meetings. The county Extension office supports our MGA by printing/mailing our monthly newsletter, providing a list-serve for communication, and allowing our fund-raising items (compost bins and pails, and garden gloves) to be stored and sold there.

Major Accomplishments or Projects:

  1. The micro-farm project was conducted at 3 elementary schools this year. Students learned what plants need to grow, and planted four trays of seeds of a variety of greens and other vegetables and are responsible for watering the fast-growing plants. At the end of six weeks, the MGVs return to help the students harvest the plants and create a tasty salad. Most children are familiar with lettuce and spinach, but are interested to see beet greens, herbs, and carrot-tops in their salad. One MGV created a brochure to distribute to teachers to recruit more classrooms to participate in this project.
  2. Let’s Get Green and Growing (LGGG) continues to grow as a community educational event.Attendance increased to about 153, not including the 25 MGVs who worked and taught at the event. Two hands-on workshops in flower arranging and birdhouse making have inspired us to try to add more workshops. We hope to reach underserved audiences of low-income seniors and families at the next LGGG, by promoting the event at subsidized housing and food pantries.
  1. This year’s Columbia Co. Fair booth educated the public about community and public gardens in the county. MGVs took pictures of all the gardens and created a display featuring special things about each garden. The Give Back garden grows produce to share with three food pantries; the Cambria garden is supported by a local 4-H club who pays for water and mulch; and the Faith Lutheran garden in Columbus contains a MGV-designed labyrinth for personal meditation.

Highlighted Project: Portage Pride

Last year a Portage citizen asked the MGA for help in getting residents and the city to do a better job of maintaining street plantings, highway entrances and public areas. MGVs could see a role for themselves in education, and that others, including city management, interested citizens, and other service groups would be needed to effectively create a change in the culture of yard and tree care. MGVs invited the UW-Extension Community Resource Educator to help facilitate a listening session, and from further meetings, the Portage Pride movement evolved. One of the people attending was the editor of the Portage Daily Register, who offered to provide space for weekly articles. Eight MGVs participated in writing horticulture education articles every other week from May through the end of the year, on seasonal topics such as Memorial Day Planting, to Wrapping up the Harvest Season; articles to encourage including edibles in home landscapes, and updates on pests such as early and light blight, and emerald ash borer. Another project of the Portage Pride effort was renovation and renewal of the Pauquette Park gardens. The Portage High School Honor Society selected the Pauquette Park as a joint service project and the MGVs have held two work days with them. As a result of the Portage Pride effort, MGVs have been involved in new projects at the Portage post office, museum, and downtown area to educate the public on designing low-maintenance gardens and decorative areas. A still-unmet goal is to hold workshops for citizens on pruning and maintenance of home landscapes.