At the end of 2019, 38 Master Gardener Volunteers reported 1,738 hours of volunteer service for an estimated value of $41,718 (Independent Sector). They also reported 49 hours of continuing education and reached an estimated 5,296 individuals with various outreach projects.
Teaching Gardening to Kids at Tower Rock Elementary School:
Tower Rock Elementary School’s garden project was two full-days working directly with approximately 120 students from Kindergarten through 5th Grade. The first-all day event was in early April to start the seeds for the school garden. Each class attended a special class to learn about seeds and how to plant them. The second day was in late May and was incorporated in with the school’s Ag Day. The classes weeded, amended and planted six garden boxes with the plants they raised from seed. They also transplanted tomato and pepper seedlings to take home for their home gardens. The children’s families maintained the boxes over the summer and took home the ripe produce.
Educating the Community with Terrific Tomatoes Program
The Terrific Tomatoes project was a three-part series held in partnership with the Reedsburg Public Library and Sauk County Master Gardener Association (SCMGA) whose summer reading theme was “A Universe of Stories”. For the first part, Sauk County Master Gardener Volunteers (MGVs) taught the basics of tomato gardening. With the theme of “Out of This World Tomato Varieties”, participants (29 adults and 4 children) purchased tomatoes, which MGVs had started from seed.
The second part of the project was the SCMGA Tomato Test Garden locate dat the Reedsburg Community Garden which was weeded, amended with horse manure, covered with landscape fabric, mulched with straw, and planted with 26 varieties of tomatoes. Sauk County MGVs cared for the garden throughout the summer.
For the third part in August, participants (27 adults and 11 MGVs) gathered again at the Reedsburg Public Library for a tomato tasting event. There were 27 varieties of tomatoes that came from the test garden and private gardens of the MGVs for the tasting. Participants voted for their favorite tomato and the winner was Sun Gold. MGVs created a buffet of tomato based food items, and cookbooks containing recipes of the tomato dishes were available after the event.
Educating the Community with Sauk County Horticulture Field Days
The Sauk County Master Gardener Association held its first Horticulture Field Day in September 2019. It was created to replace the fund-raising event that was typically held in the spring with another group. This full-day event consisted of five hands-on demonstrations presented in a round-robin fashion. This style allowed each participant was able to get up close to observe and participate and also to attend all five session demonstrations. The topics included: Preventing Injuries while Gardening, Dividing and Planting for Next Year’s Garden, Garden Journaling, Wild Edibles and Seed Saving. It also included a “Ask A Master Gardener” booth, a Garden Marketplace, and local Vendors.
Protecting Native Environments at Metcalf Prairie
Metcalf Prairie is a 5 acre located along the shore of Lake Virginia, just east of Reedsburg in Sauk County. In the spring and summer of 2019, a group of three Master Gardener volunteers removed invasive plants, pruned trees and sowed prairie seed on the western1.5 acres. Much of the area was heavily seeded by wild parsnip. After multiple rounds of removal, the area was reseeded with prairie plants including Black-eyed Susans, boneset, milkweed, red poppy, wild aster and more . The next phase of reclaiming the 5-acre prairie will include help from more Master Gardener volunteers and local residents with the goal of returning the prairie to its natural state, to prevent erosion along the lakeshore, to provide a place to fishing, and to provide a refuge for people, pollinators and wildlife. Plans include continuing to collaborate with with the Lake Virginia Management Commission, to create a parking lot for visitors, to continue to replant the prairie with prairie species including Joe Pye weed, queen of the prairie, and yellow iris and a marshy section with water-tolerant plants.