The Master Gardener Program in Columbia County started in 1999. Over 215 people have been trained since that time, and there are currently 34 certified Master Gardener Volunteers (MGVs) for 2016. The UWEX Educator facilitating the MG Program is Agriculture Agent George Koepp.
Micro-farmers Eat Vegetables
Two hundred and six elementary students at three schools grew salad greens in their classrooms for six weeks this year in the Micro-farm Project. MGVs helped them learn what plants need to grow and showed them how to plant the seeds for fast- growing greens. Learning that carrot and radish leaves are edible is always a surprise, and when they occasionally find a small radish to add to the salad, there is excitement! Almost all students are willing to try the salad they have grown, and express interest in growing vegetables at home after this project.
Worms Eat Our Garbage
Vermicomposting and traditional composting was taught by MGVs at several locations this year. At a family library event, children were able to handle worms and see how a worm-bin can turn food scraps and into valuable plant food. They also learned how an outdoor compost bin is diﬀerent. They tore newspaper into strips for bedding, and decided which kitchen items should or should not be added to both worm bins and compost bins. At the county fair and our spring event, the public was able to see several examples of compost and worm bins in use.
Feeding Spring Fever
By mid-March people are tired of winter and anxious to think about gardening. That sets the tone for our annual event, Let’s Get Green and Growing, which brought 175 gardeners together on a Saturday in March. MGVs organized and taught at the event. Hands-on workshops, interesting vendors, an inexpensive admission fee and lunch, as well as a wide variety of speakers make this a valued event with attendance increasing each year.
Volunteer Service in 2015
|Youth education||85 hours|
|Adult education||347 hours|
|Support services||1214 hours|
Since 2000: 22,994 hours at a value of over $409,638
* using the current estimated dollar value of volunteer time in Wisconsin of $22.24 per hour, from Independent Sector. Cumulative value based on previous annual estimates.
Where you can find activities by MGVs in Columbia Co.
- Pauquette Park in Portage
- Portage Post Oﬃce
- Tivoli Nursing Home in Portage
- Columbus Library
- 4-H Planter Night at Link’s Greenhouse
- Plant Sale at Tractor Supply Co in Portage
- Poynette Farmers’ Market
- The Museum at the Portage