At the end of 2019, 112 Master Gardener Volunteers reported 4273 hours of volunteer service for an estimated value of $102,540 (Independent Sector). They also reported 509 hours of continuing education and reached an estimated 8720 individuals with various outreach projects.
St. Croix Valley Community Garden
Though the garden has been in existence since 2001, this year it was moved to a new location in the City of New Richmond. It is now more accessible for volunteers and recipients of the produce. Master Gardeners work with the high school for service learning day to help prepare and plant the garden, which produced over 1,000 pounds of vegetables for donation to hunger prevention efforts.
The annual “Garden U” educational seminar drew over 160 attendees who learned about “Prairies, Fruit Trees and Berries”. Speakers discussed ways to encourage pollinators through prairie plantings, and how that translates to pollination of fruit crops. Each year “Garden U” provides educational presentations and related vendors associated with environmental protection, home food production, and other horticulture topics to a sell-out crowd.
The St. Croix Valley Master Gardener Association provides up to $5,000 in grants each year for community horticulture-related projects. In 2019, 15 projects were funded, twelve of which involved youth education and involved 3 different school projects. Additionally, a $1,000 scholarship was provided to a Horticulture major at UW-River Falls.
Master Gardeners again participated in the St. Croix County Earth Day celebration where they engaged children in a variety of horticulture related activities. Kids planted Teddy Bear sunflower seeds, made pasta shell necklaces to resemble life states of the Monarch, and took home “Raising Monarch Kits”.
Demonstration and Learning Garden
Members of the St. Croix Valley Master Gardener Association again planted, maintained and harvested the Demonstration and Learning Garden in River Falls. This garden is used for a variety of educational events for both adults and children throughout the year. This year the popular Lettuce Lane was planted, featuring blocks of 30 different leaf lettuces, where visitors can sample the different varieties and see how easy it is to grow fresh greens.
A section of the garden each year is devoted to a “Kids garden”, with a kid-related theme. This year, it was a “Superhero Garden”, with “Super Vegetables” and lesson plans related to nutrient values is different colored vegetables. The garden’s scarecrow, dressed each year for the garden theme, was a very authentic Spider Man.
Junior Garden U
One event at the Demonstration and Learning Garden was the annual “Junior Garden U(niversity)”, for kids ages 6-12. Master Gardeners teach various topics to the children in rotating sections. In keeping with the Superhero theme, this year the topics taught about the various super powers and super defenses plants and insects have to survive, and how we, as gardeners, can help. Kids went home with enthusiasm and materials to garden at home.
Pierce County Fair
The St. Croix Valley Master Gardener Association is present at both the Pierce and St. Croix County fairs, with educational booths and displays. This year’s booth topic was “Healthy Gardening with Kids”. Demonstrations included small raised beds with themes of “Salsa”, “Pizza” and “Snacking”, and a hand-out recipe book for things to make from each of those gardens, including smoothies, dips and salsas, was available. Prizes were awarded for winners of the “Are You Smarter than a Rutabaga” game, which tests visitors’ knowledge on a variety of gardening topics.
Master Gardeners have weekly booths at the River Falls and Hudson Farmers Markets. They have some educational displays and answer a wide variety of questions from market-goers. With an extremely wet and rainy growing season, many of the questions were related to fungal diseases, but other local topics, including Emerald Ash Borer, Late Blight of tomatoes, and fruit production were also popular.
By the Numbers