Posts Tagged ‘sfeawards-community service projects’

2017 Workshop 1st Place – 10-Minute University, Clackamas County, OR

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

A Shortcut to Gardening Know-How: 10-Minute University™, Clackamas County, Oregon


10-Minute University™ offers a shortcut to research-based gardening know-how. During 2015 & 2016, 10-Minute University speakers taught one hundred and fourteen classes serving 3,883 clients with 5,370 educational contacts. Classes and handouts are offered free to all persons.

A Shortcut to Gardening Know-How: 10-Minute University™, Clackamas County, OregonClackamas County Master Gardeners began 10-Minute University™ as short classes for busy shoppers at their popular Spring Garden Fair. In 2006, they tested the idea by offering 10 classes, each lasting only 10 minutes. Client evaluations immediately showed that the audience liked every aspect of these classes except their duration. Today, the average class lasts 25 minutes.

Every class is evaluated in writing to assess the overall class, content, presenter, and likelihood of using what was learned. Clients participate on a voluntary basis. Results are tallied, shared, and tracked over time for action.



Program Design

A strong evaluation system is just one core tenet. The other two are highly-skilled MG instructors and well-crafted take-home handouts.

Instructors are active Master Gardeners who excel in public speaking and horticultural knowledge. All are committed to research-based information.

A Shortcut to Gardening Know-How: 10-Minute University™, Clackamas County, Oregon

A two-sided, one-sheet handout accompanies each class. Its development begins with a review of extension literature and ends with review comments from Extension agents, with many drafts and revisions in between. MG volunteers do the research, drafting, revisions, editing, and publishing.

Currently there are forty-three handouts posted at





SFE A Shortcut to Gardening Know-How: 10-Minute University™, Clackamas County, Oregon


10-Minute University classes are featured at two Clackamas County Master Gardeners annual educational events. In March, Garden Discovery Day helps jumpstart the gardening season. In October, Fall into Gardening shows how to put a garden ‘to bed’.

Classes continue to be part of the Spring Garden Fair in May, the MG Speakers’ Bureau year-round, and are offered at the Oregon City Farmers Market during the summer.



A. Written Survey (upon completion of class)

Evaluations show the vast majority of clients find 10-Minute University classes an effective way to learn. During 2015 and 2016, every class was evaluated in writing by clients. The graph below shows the results.

88% of clients surveyed strongly agreed with the statement “I will use what I learned today.”

B. Longitudinal Survey (3 months after class)

Two themes emerged from their responses to the question “Have you used anything learned from those classes? If yes, would you share some specifics?”

  • First, clients used what they learned.

“I successfully deterred slugs from my new plants, planted some beautiful potted containers, and reseeded my entire lawn. I also amended my soil this year with compost.”

“The class on pollinators was wonderful! I started a new garden just for bees and butterflies.”

  • Second, clients gained confidence in gardening.

“My husband and I planted our first vegetable garden using the information given to us by this series of classes. It gave us our confidence to do things correctly, instead of trial and error.”

“Yes! You guys are my source to current gardening practices and how-to. Without you I would not have the confidence I have today.”

2017 Community Service 1st Place – Village Harvest, Kauai, Hawaii

Monday, June 5th, 2017

The island of Kaua`i is the most remote populated-landmass in the U.S. (arguably, the world). Although we have year-round rainfall and sunshine, aptly providing us the nickname “The Garden Isle”, we’re currently importing an estimated 85-90% of our food. At any given time, Kaua`i has just a 7-day food supply on island for the population, making food security and sovereignty uniquely critical issues. This issue of food security is exacerbated given that nearly 36% of households on Kaua`i are “economically needy”.

Village Harvest began in 2014 when Master Gardener Trainees Megan Fox and Keone Kealoha, who work for Malama Kaua`i, noticed grapefruit falling on the ground at the University of Hawaii (UH) Agricultural Research Center during their Master Gardener classes – long-lost and forgotten leftovers from previous agricultural experiments. Working closely on food access issues in their work and seeing many children without access to fresh food, the pair decided they would gather the other Master Gardeners to collect the unutilized fruit and donate it to four Hawaiian charter schools without school food programs. That first harvest collected and delivered over 236 pounds of fresh fruit to children that week, and thus, Village Harvest was born.

Shortly thereafter, Village Harvest became a solidified partnership between Malama Kaua`i and the Kaua`i Master Gardeners.  This team worked to ensure that the productive 4-acres of fruit orchards at the UH Wailua Agricultural Research Center were utilized in providing fresh produce to needy schools without school food programs, using the talent and time of Master Gardener volunteers through gleaning and caring for the underutilized orchard.

A $10,000 grant from the HMSA Foundation was awarded to assist with the purchase of a wide variety of professional harvesting and pruning tools and supplies, including washing sink installations, for the UH Station and Malama Kaua`i’s Community Farm. These supplies enabled the development of two gleaning hubs, insurance and recordkeeping support, and weekly gas stipends for delivery drivers – who often drive over two hours to get produce to needy schools on the opposite side of the island.

The abundance of unused produce on our island was astounding. Calls frequently came from retirees and farmers. Farmers saw our program as a great resource to donate unsold produce after farmers markets, to receive a tax-deduction for donations rather than lower the price tag (and therefore the ongoing market value) for their produce during surplus harvests.

Although we had targeted serving just four schools, the program captured so much produce that we ended up growing our delivery service to three after school Boys & Girls Club programs and several food banks and pantries across the island. We were also surprised by the response from donors. In addition to UH’s orchards, we had 9 other donors including several residents, Kaua`i Community College’s GoFarm program, and commercial farms such as Moloa`a Organica`a and Steelgrass Farms.

With over 450 volunteer hours from Master Gardeners and community volunteers, Village Harvest was able to collect and deliver 9,187 pounds of produce to needy children and families within the first year of the program (2014 through Sept. 2015).  As of September 2016, we have collected over 14,000 lbs of produce.

Village Harvest provides a wide variety of learning opportunities both within the Master Gardener Program and in the community focused on food safety/GAPs, pruning, orchard care, agricultural waste, food access and more.

As part of the partnership between Kaua`i Master Gardeners and Malama Kaua`i, several Master Gardeners have also been placed into volunteer roles within the Kaua`i School Garden Network, supporting schools across the island with their garden education programs. Master Gardeners have taught students a variety of skills, such as caring and installing school-based food orchards. Schools have also utilized the fresh produce donated from Village Harvest in a variety of educational lessons, which included guest speakers on nutrition and juicing, as well as incorporating donated produce into culinary classes that prepare student meals and snacks.

In 2016, the project has onboarded a full-time AmeriCorps service member to expand the program and build gleaning stations and networks across the island. Many different funders have stepped in to support the expansion of this program, including The Ulupono Initiative, Light Shines from Within Fund at RSF Social Finance, Sidney Stern Memorial Trust, Matson, Friends of Hawaii Charities, and individual donors.

For more information, please visit Village Harvest Program or Kaua`i Master Gardener Program.

2017 Community Service 2nd Place – Speaker’s Bureau/ Toastmaster Gardeners, Orange County, CA

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Orange County Master Gardeners faced a quandary: how to fulfill the Master Gardener mission of providing science-based information to home gardeners to the nearly three million residents of Orange County.

Because public speaking is an important part of providing the information, Master Gardeners established a Speakers Bureau in 2008 – originally getting 25 to 50 requests annually.  Master Gardeners wanted to provide presentations that not only got the information across, but ones that truly piqued the interest and attention of their audience – they were seeking WOW presentations.  In late 2009, they enlisted the experts: Toastmasters, the internationally recognized, well-established program developed to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every individual member has the opportunity to develop oral communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.

Master Gardeners established a closed club, ToastMaster Gardeners of Orange County within their Master Gardener organization for the benefit of all members and especially the members of the Speakers Bureau.  The club is open to membership by UCCE Master Gardeners, UCCE Master Food Preservers, and their immediate family members (spouses, significant others, or children).  Through the established training methods and materials developed by Toastmasters, speakers garnered skills and techniques that made them more effective in delivering the Master Gardener messages with confidence.  As a bonus, the skills learned in Toastmasters enriched the interactions at booths and other public events.

While the Orange County Master Gardeners are provided extensive training in all aspects of garden issues, there was no program in place that had public speaking training.  Some Master Gardeners were shy and/or introverted and even felt intimidated when staffing booths at events such as garden shows and fairs.  The Toastmaster program addressed these issues with well-designed speech guidelines.  It established goals and plateaus for both communication and leadership, which also helped develop leaders for many local projects.  As added benefits of the infusion of professionalism in the Speakers Bureau by an alliance with Toastmasters, Master Gardeners have broadened the scope of topics offered to the public and have collected email lists (5000+ individuals) from presentations that have resulted in an increase in outreach and more speaking opportunities.

Currently, the Speakers Bureau delivers presentations, demonstrations and workshops to the public in various venues including garden clubs, parks, garden shows, medical facilities, the county fair, and several other organizations.  Because the value and professionalism of presentations spread throughout the community, the demand for speakers increased over the last five years from less than 50 per year to nearly 150 per year.

The Toastmasters club has proven to be popular with Master Gardeners, with many members of the club advancing through various levels of expertise. In addition, due to the efforts and strong participation of club members, the Club has achieved the President’s Distinguished Club award for seven consecutive years.

It is evident that this program benefits the community due to the numbers of individuals remaining after presentations to discuss particular issues, confirming that much of the information is being retained and used.  Finally, presentations are being sought after and well attended, which further validates that the information is being used.  Orange County Master Gardeners have been asked to conduct edible gardening seminars for Memorial Care Hospital System (four hospitals plus corporate offices) as part of a healthy lifestyle campaign; an educational gardening series for children at the Great Park in Irvine; an on-going series for new homebuyers; and lecture schedules for libraries and medical insurance companies on gardening’s place in the wellness milieu.  In addition, Master Gardeners presented at and staffed a booth for a Health Fair presented at the Nixon Presidential Library.  Master Gardeners have even presented at Disneyland! Presentations average an audience of 30, but can be as high as 100+ participants.

In the past two years, Toastmaster training has enabled Master Gardeners to host a weekly radio show “What to do in the Garden this Month.” Podcasts of these radio shows are available to the public

Setting up a Toastmaster club is relatively inexpensive.  There is a one-time chartering fee of $125 and a $20 new member fee per person.  After that, the six-month membership fee is $45 per person.  There was no extra cost involved for the training of Master Gardeners as Toastmasters.  All training was done in-house with materials provided by Toastmasters International.

The Orange County Master Gardeners have more than 300 active members and new members are recruited from the Master Gardener In Training classes.  Therefore, it is easy to maintain the membership necessary to be a viable club.  Other counties with a smaller base of MGs could encourage their members to join Toastmaster groups in their communities for this training.  The training received from Toastmasters International is standardized for all clubs worldwide.



2017 Community Service 3rd Place – The Barn’s CommUnity Garden, Lehigh/Northampton Counties, PA

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

You might think that a garden program about community gardening would be about how, when and why you should plant particular crops. But, this program involves using gardening as a means to build bridges in our community for the well-being

whole groupof our community. When one contemplates the homeless, our veterans, and food insufficiency in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania, it is life changing when those who are able become positive social change agents. My name is Dr. Robert Yoder and I have sought to be socially conscious of my neighbor far and wide serving as a short term missionary dentist in Honduras for six years, building homes on the Gulf coast post Katrina and  in a variety of short term mission trips but I felt this subtle tug that I should be doing more locally. I thought perhaps as a Penn State Master Gardener, I could weave my skill set and invite others to join me in community gardening. So seven years ago, I began to recruit volunteers and found the Christian community “The Barn”, currently worshipping at Swain School, willing to rise to the challenge.

The initiative began with a simple wonderment: “Could we create a community garden that intentionally brought people together to grow food for the hungry in our community?” Even better, “Could recipients of the food grown, participate in the very garden that benefitted them?” We began with 2 plots graciously donated by Lower Macungie Township. Three additional Master Gardeners and 40 volunteers of all experience levels signed up to help and learn. Immediately, friendships developed, fun ensued, and the satisfaction of walking alongside our neighbor, revealed we were onto something bigger than ourselves. The produce from the first year was modest in pounds (around 500 lbs.), but the community that was being built, both in the garden and reaching into center city Allentown was beyond description.

Fast forward six years and we now have 7 garden plots with active material and monetary support from our major donor, Home Depot, and  additional financial support from Tractor Supply, Emmaus Borough, The Muslim Assoc. of the Lehigh Valley, Wal-Mart, The Barn Community, Lower Macungie Township planting with the kidsand the Master Gardeners of the Lehigh Valley. In addition, we now have broader community involvement  including 7 worshipping communities and over 175 volunteers. Leadership is provided by 11 Master gardeners assigned to each of the gardens.

The 2016  initiative  included involving our veterans who too often have lost meaning in life and we find some aiml s and  homeless. Also consider, in 2012 the Department of Veterans Affairs conducted a study which discovered for 10 years running, there was an average of 18-22 veteran suicides per day in the United States. Can we use the community garden to give them a way of engaging community that offers new purpose? Additionally, we were broadening efforts of interfaith cooperation by involving Muslims, Christians and Jews, all working together in the garden to show the world a better way forward. To that end, we now have the Jewish temples Beth El and Kenneseth Israel, the Christian churches “The Barn” and “Life Church” of Nazareth along with two Muslim worshipping communities at “Muslim Assoc. of the Lehigh Valley” and  a young vital Muslim community in Alburtis all working together, building community and growing vegetables.

Last year we raised almost 4500 lbs. of fresh produce which now benefits two Lehigh Conference of Church’s social outreach ministries: DayBreak and the Soup Kitchen at 8twith tthe participantsh and Walnut Street. We hope with continued growth to make a greater impact.

Looking ahead , 2017 has more new initiatives including new involvement of a Sikh community to broaden our community building. Second, we are trying to incorporate the youth of each of these worshipping communities in three exciting ways. In Spring, in a round table sharing format, we plan to have a youth program including a potluck meal of foods of each community’s ethnic background, seedling starting, a time of sharing their favorite religious foods and holidays in their traditions. This in an effort to teach tolerance and appreciation  of the other at a young age. In Summer, we will have a week of youth involvement in direct garden care. Adult mentors will work side by side with the youth to teach gardening skills.  In Fall, in correlation with the Jewish holiday Sukkot, we will initiate a gleaning project at “The Seed Farm” with kids working side by side with folks from the center city, the very people all the garden goods go to help with the food insecurity of the Lehigh Valley.

Logistically, a typical growing season would begin with willing volunteers raising seedlings like tomatoes, peppers and broccoli starting in late February. This group of seedling growers includes folks from the center city to the suburbs. It gives the wonder of spring early to families with young children and the homeless that find shelter at DayBreak. They maintain and grow the seedlings to maturity, then help in the transplanting in one of the seven community gardens when winter finally gives up its grip in mid-May.

Weekly teams of volunteers then tend, harvest, laugh, test out a sugar pea or two and take pictures of the produce being grown. All through the process a more important thing is happening: community is being knit into a beautiful tapestry. We are working side by side to make a positive difference in our community. You know you have struck a beautiful chord when in one hand you have the day’s harvest and in the other you are hugging a new found friend who comes from a completely different life situation than you do. Imagine a Jewish woman with kids working side by side with a Muslim woman’s kids. We have indeed grown CommUnity and the forecast for this year’s growing season is one full of love and care for neighbor. We are showing the world a better way forward.

                                                                                                out in the garden workingthe producegiving instructions

2015 Search for Excellence Awards – Community Service — 2nd Place Winner

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

Fairfax Master Gardener Diagnostic Lab: Serving the Public for 34 Years

Fairfax Master Gardener Diagnostic Lab: Serving the Public for 34 Years

The Fairfax County Master Gardeners Association (FCMGA) Diagnostic Laboratory placed second in the Community Service Category of the 2015 International Master Gardener Search for Excellence.

The Lab has been in operation since 1981. Its purpose is to solve difficult plant identification, insect, and disease problems for the general public in Fairfax County, Virginia.  To our knowledge it is the only diagnostic laboratory operated by a Master Gardener group in the state of Virginia.

There is one Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) horticultural agent for Fairfax County, Virginia.  She serves a population of over 1.1 million residents.  Master Gardeners, numbering over 350 in Fairfax County, are a great force multiplier for the extension agent.  The Lab supports this effort by diagnosing problems that require deep knowledge and experience. The Lab is an important adjunct to the weekly plant clinics operated by FCMGA from May to September at 13 farmers markets and 5 public libraries throughout the county.  That’s well over 300 plant clinics per year!  In addition the Lab handles diagnostic requests that come directly from the (VCE) office in Fairfax from residents and landscape companies.  Services of the Lab and FCMGA are available free of charge.


Lab veterans Ted Stroup and Priscilla Baetke examine a new sample



The essential ingredient for a successful diagnostic laboratory is expert Master Gardeners with a passion for horticulture and public service.  Our Lab volunteers have an average of 17 years’ experience with FCMGA; the longest tenure is 37 years.  They are among the most knowledgeable Master Gardeners in the FCMGA.  In 2013 14 of FCMGA’s most experienced Master Gardeners volunteered 818 hours of service to this activity.


Samples that our Master Gardeners are unable to diagnose or identify at a plant clinic are referred to the Lab.  The Lab usually provides identifications, diagnoses, and advice within a week, most often in a report that is emailed directly to the client.  Responses typically contain an explanation of the problem, diagnostic keys to recognizing it, and a tutorial to help the client address the current problem and avoid similar problems in the future.  This advice includes recommended cultural practices and controls.



Our lab is equipped with two microscopes.  The microscope is a necessity for identifying mites, small insects, various insect eggs, and many fungal pathogens whose fruiting bodies cannot be seen by the unaided eye.  Diagnosticians have access to four computers for report preparation and research. There is a bookshelf containing useful references and a refrigerator for storage of samples. The Lab is housed in approximately 225 sq. ft. of space provided by the Merrifield Garden Center. Finally, the Lab has a variety of forms and instructions developed over the years to facilitate the delivery of its services.


In a typical year the Lab diagnoses over 300 samples (i.e., what is the problem with my plant?).  The diagnoses consist of over 100 different pathogens or causes, primarily fungal diseases (very common here in the humid Middle Atlantic region), insects, mites, and cultural problems.  Prominent among the fungal problems are several types of leaf spot, conifer tip blights, powdery mildew, sooty mold, and downy mildews.

Spider mites of several kinds tend to be the leading invertebrate problem in a dry year. Rose slugs, lacebugs, and various types of scale, led by cottony camellia scale, are the most common insect problems. In a year with unusually high rainfall most cultural problems are related to wet soil.

In a typical year the Lab handles 150 to 200 identification requests (i.e., what plant, insect, mushroom or other object is this?), the vast majority of which are plant samples.


Each diagnostic report provides a mini-lesson in IPM to the client who submitted the sample.  Fairfax County is located in the watershed of the environmentally threatened Chesapeake Bay. Reduction in the use of pesticides and fertilizers is an important public objective in our area.  Implementation of the Lab’s IPM-based advice means clients are not using pesticides and fertilizers unless absolutely necessary and only using them at a time when they would be effective.  When a pesticide is used, it is one whose effectiveness against the diagnosed problem has been proven through university extension service research.


Priscilla Baetke performs microscopic analysis.

Some clients reply directly to the Lab’s email report vowing to follow the advice.  Others return to FCMGA’s weekly plant clinics to discuss what they have done, ask further questions, and express their gratitude for the service.  Some return on multiple occasions during the year with more problems for the Lab to diagnose.


The Lab publishes a variety of reports based on lab findings.  For the 2013 Plant Clinic season, the Lab prepared a series of “Monthly Preview” documents, each highlighting problems we would expect to see at clinics in the coming month.  The previews are now published on our public website.

In addition, the Lab produces a “Lab Notebook”, usually with the assistance of a summer intern whose salary is partially funded by the FCMGA.  The reports, published every 1 -3 weeks from May to August, describe the lab’s latest findings.  The Lab Notebooks are replete with descriptions, photos and statistics to arm FCMGA master gardeners and professional landscape maintenance personnel who subscribe to this free service with the information they need to deal with the myriad of plant problems we encounter in the Middle Atlantic region.


The Merrifield Garden Center, one of the leading independent garden centers in Virginia, provides physical space for the Lab and connectivity to the Internet.  Merrifield’s support in the interest of sound horticultural practices contributes significantly to the success of the Lab and to FCMGA in general.



2015 Search for Excellence Awards – Community Service — 3rd Place Winner

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

Florence Community Garden

pic 1When this project was first conceived (first quarter of 2013) we knew that this was not going to be a project Extension could tackle alone. With the Shoals Master Gardeners taking a leadership role, partnerships were developed with the Northwest Resource Conservation & Development Council, the city of Florence, the Florence Men’s Club and the Lauderdale County Commission. Planning meetings and conceptual design began January/ February time frame by pulling people together. The biggest obstacle was finding an area with a suitable water source.

Several areas throughout the city were consider potential garden sites but a ready available water source was the limiting factor in each case. After review of several areas we realized the area was right at our door step. The Community Garden’s location is along Veterans Dr. between S. Oak and S. Chestnut Street on property occupied by the Florence Lauderdale Coliseum and the Alabama Cooperative System. The property is owned by the City of Florence. The Gardens are located between the parking lot and Veterans Dr. This project was planned and designed to provide a highly viable facility where veterans, low income and or physically impaired citizens and those with no room or opportunity could have their own garden. We wanted a facility with open public access, adequate sunlight and availability of water. The Extension Office provided ready access water and we ran a drip irrigation system to each bed, on timers, so the gardeners didn’t have to carry water unless they wanted more than we allocated through the system. pic 2The Project Team immediately  choose the raised bed concept for ease of access for challenged individuals, children and predictability for success by having a consistent growing medium within each bed.

Our original plan and budget was to build fifty individual raised beds. We actually built fifty two beds and every one of them ended up with an “owner” who planted, tended, and harvested their crops with great personal satisfaction. Two of the beds were used by the Extension System for ‘Trapped crops” and “Pollinators” (butterfly and humming birds). Two other beds were by the 4-H Club, (Junior Master Gardeners). The Extension system conducted public forums for new gardeners to instruct them in the best practices and methods for them to succeed in growing. The meetings were held during the day and again in the evening to accommodate those working. Every gardener got a condensed lesson in pest management, horticulture practices, seed/plant selection and garden care.

Master Gardeners were available daily (through the Help-Line) and on weekends to provide advice and information to the new gardeners.  The raised bed garden is not a unique concept,however, we did provide a growing medium not previously employed. The Florence city government provided equipment  and transportation for us to move tons of “Cotton Gin Trash” from two separate gins in the county, to our garden location. The Shoals Master Gardeners team wheel-barrowed those same tons, into the fifty-two beds which were  4’ wide x 8’ long x 20” deep. This filling process continued over several work days. Cotton gin trash is the biomass by-product of the business of ginning cotton. This sustainable product, in it’s composted forms yields an inexpensive, micro nutrient rich planting medium.

pic 3The total summer production was over 2100 lbs. Also, there were several gardeners who produced fall gardens.

The project fostered six other Shoals Master Gardener Projects that were able to utilize the same raised-bed and gin trash concept at a nursing home, four schools and a community health clinc. In the near by city of Sheffield, there are plans to establish an entire city block of raised bed gardens in 2016. So, for 2015 we had a 85% retention rate from 2014 and quickly filled up from the waiting list with potential gardeners and the fruits of their labor are seen here. The waiting list continues to grow.

pic 5


2015 Search for Excellence Winners are Announced!

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Congratulations to the Twenty-one 2015 Search for Excellence Awards winners!IMGC Logo

Search for Excellence (SFE) is the recognition of outstanding projects by Master Gardener volunteers throughout the United States and Canada. These twenty-one awards were presented at the International Master Gardener Conference 2015 (IMGC 2015), Horticultural Horizons in the Heartland.Horticultural Horizons in the Heartland Logo

SFE Awards are presented every two years at the IMGC conference where Master Gardener volunteers, Extension staff and faculty gather to learn from each other, share projects and to network with their peers from around the world. Twenty one Master Gardener programs were recognized for their outstanding achievement from a field of seventy two applications, submissions from twenty six USA states and two Canadian provinces.

First, second and third place awards are presented in seven categories:

• Community Service
• Demonstration Gardens
• Innovative Projects
• Special Needs Audiences
• Research
• Workshop or Presentation
• Youth Programs

All SFE applications must show that significant learning took place. The SFE projects need to be ongoing projects for at least two years; one of the winners this year has been going on for twenty six years. The IMGC Committee judges the applications. Winning projects were chosen on the basis of their originality and creativity; practicality of the program; simplicity of replication by other Master Gardeners and their significant impact on their communities.

First place winners received a plaque and a small stipend to continue their educational projects. The twenty one awarded projects displayed posters of their projects at the IMGC 2015 conference. Congratulations to all the SFE awardees that are involved in these excellent projects.

Beginning next week and continuing over the next several months, this blog will feature stories and pictures from each 2015 Search for Excellence award winners. Watch for the upcoming postings and read about these outstanding projects.

The 2017 SFE awards nominations soon, more information will be found on the 2017 IMGC Webiste.


Reducing Hunger, Improving Nutrition with Seed2Need Program

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Seed2Need – Award winning collaborative project

Since 2008 Seed2Need is a collaborative effort between the Sandoval County Master Gardeners (New Mexico), property owners in the village of Corrales and other volunteer groups.

This outstanding project won the 1st place International Master Gardener 2011 Search for Excellence – Community Service Award, awarded in October, 2011 at the International Master Gardener conference in Charleston, West Virginia.

IMGC Award Winners

IMGC Award Winners

Seed2Need’s mission

The project’s mission is to reduce hunger and improve nutrition in New Mexico by growing fresh produce for food pantries in Sandoval and Bernalillo Counties. The Master Gardeners also glean fruit from local orchards and solicit produce donations from the vendors and customers at the Corrales Grower’s market. Because most food pantries pick up produce directly from the gardens, it is often in the hands of the families who need it within hours of harvest.  See more about the program and those involved in this YouTube video.

Seed2Need is a great learning opportunity, too!

Seed2Need provides many opportunities to apply what Master Gardeners learn in class including seed starting, soil testing, fertilizer calculations, insect identification and control, fruit tree pruning, use of row cover, mulching techniques, composting and t-tape irrigation.

For more information about Seed2Need, see the following resources, and photo gallery


Submitted by Sylvia Hacker,
Doña Ana Co. Master Gardeners (On Facebook)
Texas Master Naturalist
Las Cruces, New Mexico

Search for Excellence Award Blog Posts (Listing by Project Category)

Monday, February 6th, 2012
IMG Search for Excellence

International Master Gardener Search for Excellence Awards

In early November, Monica David, the 2011 IMGC vice president, announced we would be sharing 18 blog posts about each of the Extension Master Gardener volunteer projects that received a 2011 International Search For Excellence Award. These projects were awarded among six project categories during the 2011 International Master Gardener Conference.

Blog Posts Created New National Recognition and Discussion Opportunities

This year, blogging about these award winning projects helped bring new recognition and understanding of the value of Extension Master Gardener volunteers through pageviews on this blog, shares through our Facebook page, and retweets on Twitter.

Many of these projects received kudos in the blog’s comments section and created opportunities for Extension Master Gardeners from different states to discuss and learn about how local programs are participating in similar or different ways across the United States. To make these blog posts easier to access and find by category, we’ve grouped the 2011 International Master Gardener Search For Excellence award winning blog posts by project category and listed them for you below.

As you work toward new volunteer projects this year, you may want to take another glimpse at these posts, share these with a friend, or perhaps add your insights to the comments sections for a particular project that applies or resonates most with you….or (hint, hint) perhaps these posts will encourage your local program to submit an application for the 2013 International Master Gardener Search for Excellence Awards!

Blog Posts by Project Award Category

Workshop attendees learn how to properly construct their own rain barrels in Macon, County Iowa

The next International Master Gardener Conference and Search for Excellence Awards will take place in 2013.  For more information on the next International Master Gardener conference, see the IMGC 2013 Website or Facebook page.

Karen Jeannette
eXtension Consumer Horticulture Content Coordinator

2011 Search for Excellence Community Service Award Winner- 3rd Place

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Share the Health Educational Garden- Cuyahoga County, Ohio

The STH Garden is a project involving three entities: the village of Gates Mills, the Master Gardeners of Cuyahoga County, and Magnolia Clubhouse of Cleveland.  Five years ago, two Master Gardeners started to grow vegetables for the needy on land provided by the village.  Since that time the garden has grown in area, the amount of food produced, and the number of people involved.  Only sustainable gardening practices are used to grow the food.

Master Gardeners in the greenhouse after a bountiful harvest.

The STH garden donates its entire harvest each year to Magnolia Clubhouse.  Magnolia Clubhouse is a day program for adults with mental illness.  Last year, the STH garden provided over 2000 pounds of fresh vegetables to the Clubhouse.  This resulted in savings of $150 per week in Magnolia’s food budget.  Clubhouse members discovered they liked some vegetables they had never enjoyed before.

Last year, twenty eight Master Gardeners volunteered at one time or another in the garden, as well as ten community members.  Volunteers come to the garden each Monday at 9 am from March to November to do what is needed.  The STH garden would not exist without the involvement of those who donate resources, including the Gates Mills Improvement Society, the Ivy Garth Seed Company, community members, and the Master Gardeners of Cuyahoga County.

Master Gardeners raise vegetables organically to give to disabled adults

The Master Gardeners work with Magnolia House to determine the best products to grow, based on nutritional value, food preferences and preparation.  Each year the Master Gardeners try new vegetables, but staple crops of green beans, tomatoes, beets and potatoes provide consistency.  The Garden is grown organically for the most part.

Master Gardeners raise vegetables organically in their community garden.

This garden, with its mission to donate all food grown to needy individuals, is the first of its kind in Cuyahoga County.  Education is a key component of this mission.  Community members and Master Gardeners have attended sessions on preserving herbs and three-season vegetable gardening.  Magnolia Clubhouse members have also visited the garden to learn about the crops grown and garden care.

This year the garden won several different awards for its efforts.  The Gates Mills Garden Club was awarded first place in Ohio for the educational exhibit provided by the STH garden.  In the Ohio Master Gardener community service contest, the STH garden earned first place!

Whom might I contact for more information about the STH garden?

Gwen Morgan, 440.823.1591,
Sharon Klimm, 440.248.8567,

To learn more about Cuyhoga County Master Gardeners visit their webpage at

Written by Sharon Klimm, Cuyohoga County Ohio Master Gardener