At the end of 2019, 40 Master Gardener Volunteers reported 1,579 hours of volunteer service for an estimated value of $37,890 (Independent Sector). They also reported 499 hours of continuing education and reached an estimated 2,663 individuals with various outreach projects.
Promoting Tourism at Riverside International Friendship Gardens
Riverside had a new addition added to the gardens this year in the form of the Cameroon garden. The focus of the garden’s emphasis is on 5 large statues, a fountain, rain barrels, elevated raised beds, large leafed and tropical plants, 14’ raffia palms made from steel at it’s entrance. The garden is on the banks of the Mississippi, The Black and La Crosse Rivers, a dramatic setting. The garden was sponsored by La Crosse Rotary celebrating their 100 year anniversary. The garden was dedicated this past October. Many Cameroon immigrants from Minneapolis were in attendance in their native clothing.
Other accomplishments for the 2019 season include many new master gardener volunteers, new community members who are paired with MG’s to learn more about gardening and we averaged 12+ volunteers for our 23 Wednesday work nights!
Myrick Native Landscaping Project
The gardens at Myrick consist of a large rain garden, pollinator garden, walkway garden, shade garden, wall garden, front door rock garden, west and south garden, and a large retention basin separating the parking lot and the river marsh. The rain garden drains the roof of the Myrick Center, and the retention basin helps to filter water runoff and oils from the parking lot before entering the La Crosse March. The gardens contain over 70 varieties of native flowers, grasses, sedges, ferns, shrubs, and trees.
The Myrick Center is managed by WisCorps which provides educational nature programs and activities for schools, organizations and other groups. The park and marsh are also used by the University of Wisconsin La Crosse science department. The staff at Myrick estimate that approximately 10,000 visitors come to the Myrick Center annually.
The project this year concentrated on improving the current gardens, additional planting in the west and south gardens and extending planting of the retention basin. A new endeavor this year was fall (2018) seed collecting at the gardens, seed stratification, and seed starting. We worked in cooperation with the horticulture department at Western Technical Center to start seeds and raise seedlings in their modern, equipped greenhouse with computer controlled heat and humidity conditions. The new plants were then planted into the Myrick gardens or raised beds.
Myrick volunteers provided an activity for children at the 2019 La Crosse Earth Day Fair held at Myrick Park in April. Several hundred people attended the Earth Fair. We gave a one-hour presentation on native plants to the horticulture students at Western who assisted us with native seed planting. In late summer we gave an educational presentation to fellow Master Gardeners on weed identification. Orientation to the Myrick gardens, and some training on native plants, was provided to Wiscorps crew leaders and to the high school WisCorps Mayor’s Crew.
Growing Food at Kane Street Gardens
Master gardeners worked again alongside the Hunger Task Force of La Crosse to bring fresh produce to those in need. X amount of produce was donated this year alone!
Bluff Country Master Gardener Educational Opportunities
The Bluff Country Master Gardener (BCMG) Association in La Crosse offered several opportunities for continuing education credits this year. Those topics that were offered included a presentation on bats by the local humane society, composting, decoding the driftless movie/ discussion, gardening in climate change, touring Lyfe Gardens- Aquaponics, learning about Mycology, weeding through native plants at Myrick, touring Seed Savers, and they finished up the year with mastering the new online reporting system.
The BCMG is always looking for more Master Gardeners to join them as they volunteer throughout the community. If you are a master gardener in the area and would love for more opportunities to learn the Bluff Country Master Gardeners meet the first Monday of the month.