Sauk County Master Gardeners

Sauk County has 74 paid members in our association, with 26 certified for 2015 and 12 who took Level 1 training this year.

In 2014 we volunteered 29 hours in youth education
370 hours in community education
1,830 hours in support service
and participated in 741 hours in continuing education

The Sauk Co. MGA meets on the second Thursday of every month in UW-Extension meeting rooms or on an educational field trip. We had classes on perennial peppers, the Aldo Leopold Center and shack tour, a tour through the Dairy Forage Research Center, a cooking class given by a local chef using vegetables and herbs from our own gardens; a field trip to Green Bay; and a class on making herbal wreaths. This year was the 14th annual Get Ready…Get Set…Garden! seminar co-hosted by SCMGA.

Major Accomplishments or Projects:

  1. The Baraboo Community Garden is run by volunteers and all food goes to the Baraboo Food Pantry. This year more than 1,000 pounds of produce was donated.
  2. MGVs started a prairie restoration garden and maintained the Apothecary Garden at the Reedsburg Log Village Museum.
  3. We maintained gardens at the Sauk County Historical Society in Baraboo and Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom, and designed and planted flower beds at the Circus World Museum.
  4. The SCMGA organized and oversaw the community gardens in Prairie du Sac and Reedsburg.
  5. We awarded two $500 scholarships to graduating seniors who are pursuing a career in horticulture, ecology, or conservation, and awarded $500 to a municipality for a beautification project.

Highlighted Project: Establishing a Seed Savers Program Through Local Libraries

Founded in 2014, the mission of the Baraboo Public Library and Sauk County MGA’s Seed Library is to lend free heirloom seeds to community members to teach and promote the art of heirloom seed saving and sharing. Our partnership combines the expertise of the MGVs with the accessibility of the public library. Until a few decades ago it was common to grow heirloom varieties of plants and pass them down from generation to generation. It is our goal to help keep this tradition alive by providing both the seeds and the know-how to a new generation of seed savers. Seed savers get to shape the future too, by selecting the plant from which to save seeds. That decision can be based on taste or color, or texture or a combination of all. Saving seeds from plants that do well locally develops varieties that are uniquely adapted to our growing environment.

The program was made possible with a $400 WIMGA grant. The grant money was used to purchase heirloom seeds of arugula, beans, chard, eggplant, lettuce, peas, peppers and tomatoes. These seeds were chosen because they offered the best success rate for beginning seed savers. We also obtained seeds by donation from Seeds Savers in Decorah, Iowa and from High Mowing Organic Seeds.

Our kickoff event was held on January 30, 2014, with guest speaker Grant Olson of Seed Savers, Decorah, Iowa. Following that, a series of lectures were held at the library every few weeks on various seed saving related topics including Seed Saving 101, Pollination Basics, Direct Sowing, Summer Maintenance, and Seed Harvesting. A seed “Due Date” celebration potluck was held in late October.

We hoped our first meeting would draw about 30 people and we were pleased when more than that attended. New members continued to join at the following meetings, expanding our group to over 40 eager gardeners who were allowed to check out 5 seed packets each. After Memorial Day we allowed participants to check out more seeds if they so desired. We anticipate a good return of seeds in the fall.