The Master Gardener Program in Iowa County started in 1999. Over 130 people have been trained since that time, and there are currently 7 certified Master Gardener Volunteers (MGVs) for 2019.
In 2018, Iowa County Master Gardener Volunteers reported 387 hours of community service, worth a value of over $9,300.
* using the current estimated dollar value of volunteer time in Wisconsin of $24.69 per hour, from Independent Sector.
Educate Visitors at County Fair
Iowa County Master Gardener Volunteers engaged county fair visitors with educational displays, information, and hands-on experiences. Topics included jumping worms (with real worms), prairie plantings (including strip-planting for farmers) with a life-sized big bluestem poster, new invasive plant species, common backyard weeds, and suggestions on extending the growing season in Wisconsin. During the fair, over 100 people stopped by to see the displays, share stories about their gardening experiences, and ask specific gardening questions. One-third were youth who were engaged in gardening at their own homes.
Grow Food for the Community
MGVs partnered in a 5-year, 3-county grant (with Lafayette and Grant counties) to provide fresh produce to food pantries and free-food sites. The three Iowa County sites are at the SWCAP/Food Pantry office, Plymouth Church Community Garden, and the Ridgeway School gardens. This first year, we were to provide demonstration gardens at each site. New raised beds were built and planted right on the SWCAP parking lot. At the Plymouth Church site, the Wacky Wednesday After-School Kids Club children planted and harvested the produce for Feeding Friends, a free community meal. At the Ridgeway School site, children planned, planted, and harvested produce for the school free lunch program. Over 400 pounds of fresh produce was produced and distributed in our communities. People who stopped at the Food Pantry saw the demonstration garden and got ideas for how they could grow fresh produce at home.
Teach Kids to Garden
MGVs engage 2nd and 3rd graders from Ridgeway Elementary School with the planting and maintenance of the 8 raised-bed gardens on school grounds. The gardens have become the focal point of the summer school program where the entire school learns about the process and enjoys the produce in their free breakfast and free lunch program. The children learned about gardening and had the opportunity to try many new foods.
Where you can find activities by MGVs
- Dodgeville Library
- Grandview Folk Art Site
- Community Connections Free Clinic
- Shake Rag Alley
- Centennial Park
- Ridgeway Elementary School Gardens
- Iowa County Fair
- SWCAP Community Garden