At the end of 2019, 17 Master Gardener Volunteers reported 874 hours of volunteer service for an estimated value of $20,984 (Independent Sector). They also reported 294 hours of continuing education and reached an estimated 3,917 individuals with various outreach projects.
Donating Fresh Produce to Area Food Pantries and Kitchens
The community garden sponsored by HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital currently has 24 garden plots that are planted, maintained and harvested by Master Gardener and community volunteers. The primary goal of the community garden is to help relieve food insecurity that faces the Chippewa Valley. To date, the program has donated to 10 food pantries and 2 food kitchens. Beginning with slightly over 100 pounds of produce harvested in 2013 (our first year) to over 3,000 pounds of produce delivered in 2018, our community garden has delivered over 4 ½ tons of food to the hungry people in Chippewa County in just six years. The final total for 2019 will be announced at the Harvest Dinner in November, but as of October 1st the garden produced and donated 2,130 pounds of fresh produce for 2019. Plans are being made to add additional sites in 2020.
Teaching Families to Garden at Jim Falls Elementary School Garden
The garden at Jim Falls Elementary School just finished its second year. Students voted on the vegetables they wanted to plant and the top 9 vegetables were selected. A drawing was held in each classroom to determine which vegetable the class received. The Chippewa Valley Master Gardener Volunteer talked with each class about its vegetable and how to plant it. The MGV assisted each classroom with planting and stated that “every child who wants to plant has the opportunity to get their hands in the dirt.” During the summer, the MGV met students at the garden one evening a week to maintain the garden and harvest the produce. Students and their families could either take the fresh produce home or donate it to the Jim Falls Food Pantry. Vegetables harvested after school began in September were taken to the cafeteria and included in the school lunch. This project allows kids to learn gardening skills that they can use for life. Studies show that kids who garden tend to include more fruits and vegetables in their diet as adults.
Educating the Community
Chippewa Valley Master Gardener Volunteers offered a variety of educational programs to the general public in 2019. Educational presentations extend an important opportunity for MGVs to demonstrate research-based, best practices in consumer horticulture. Two of the programs presented this year included in-depth information on 2 common garden pollinators:
- Amazing Mazie: This program discussed the life of a monarch. Monarch eggs were previously collected from the Lake Wissota State Park. The monarch life cycle and habitat needs were discussed and 3 monarch butterflies were released back into the park. Thirty-eight participants attended and watched the release.
- Bumble Bees: What’s Buzzing: This program discussed the life cycle of bumble bees. MGVs provided facts about egg production, length of life, and life stages, plus discussed the value of bumble bees as buzz pollinators for plants such as tomatoes. Twenty-eight people attended.
By the Numbers