Fond du Lac County Master Gardeners

Fond du Lac County currently has 60 certified Master Gardener Volunteers in our association, plus there are 23 people who took Level 1 training this fall.

In 2014 we volunteered 292 in youth education
483 hours in community education
5,009 hours in support service
and participated in 1,386 hours in continuing education

We meet the second Tuesday of the month from January through June and from September through November. Most meetings include speakers on horticultural topics. Our members are involved in many community projects, including the flower beds at UW-Extension, the library, senior center, veteran’s memorials, churches, Junior Master Gardeners, and the horticulture helpline. Our assistance is being increasingly requested from schools, non-profit organizations, and as speakers at various functions.

Major Accomplishments or Projects:

  1. Rosendale Peony Gardens. Several MGVs are caretakers of rows of peonies at the heritage peony garden in Rosendale. Originally called Sisson’s Peony Gardens, Wilbur Sisson began planting this American favorite in 1920. Over the years, the gardens deteriorated, but in 2005 they were given to the Rosendale Historical Society. Restoration began at that time as volunteers helped to clean up and replant the beds. Presently the garden is a showplace, particularly in June, when the annual Peony Day is celebrated. The majority of peonies in the garden are original.
  2. Galloway House and Village. This is an eight acre property owned, restored and maintained on a nonprofit voluntary basis by the Fond du Lac Co. Historical Society. One of our MGVs was asked to restore the rose garden which was neglected for at least six years. She and a team of our members weeded, replanted hostas, day lilies, sedum and seven new roses. They replaced the fountain pump in the middle of the garden and managed the planters around the main mansion. Our MGA donated $250 plus many plants for this project. As a result of their efforts, the Galloway House and Village received a 2014 Beautification Award from the County Natural Beauty Council.
  3. UW Gardens. Our members are responsible for planting, maintaining and improving the numerous flower beds surrounding the buildings of the UW-Fond du Lac campus. The largest of these is Sunset Garden. Plants were started in the campus greenhouse by MGVs and provided half of the annuals. Passers-by and faculty stopped to comment and ask questions as MGVs worked.

Highlighted Project: School Gardens

We have worked with four of schools for several years now, and three more schools recently requested our help. For Parkside Elementary School we purchased grow racks, lights and seed trays. Seed and root systems were explained in the classrooms and seed games were played. Each child planted seeds and watched them grow. Girl Scouts and leaders made rows in the 40 x 40 foot garden in front and laid down paths. The children planted seeds or a plant they had started. The Scouts took care of the garden during the summer, letting any neighboring kids take home food and help weed.

Sabish Middle School is in its second year with our MGVs. We helped them start seeds and explained square foot gardening. The summer school planted and took care of the garden.

At Rosenow School students and their families maintained the garden along with a MGV garden coordinator. Students wrapped pumpkin, corn and cucumber seeds in paper towels and placed the seeds in plastic bags. The kids got to see the seeds sprout and then planted them in peat pots. The plants got an earlier start and reached maturity sooner. The students raised a variety of vegetables.

Our association President, Bill Behnke, was presented with the 2013-14 Fond du Lac School District’s Friend of Education award last November because of his ongoing commitment to students and school district gardens.