Freelance journalist and Los Angeles Times blogger Jeff Spurrier is in Los Angeles County's Master Gardener class of 2010. In a post he wrote on Tuesday, centered on a new initiative sponsored by the Master Gardener program, Spurrier promised to share what he learns as he goes through the training himself.
Spurrier wrote about LA County's “Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative," slated for March and April 2010. A UCCE news release said the initiative will help people start their own gardens quickly and easily in a container, in the backyard or at a community garden, bringing together local families and neighborhoods to share their experiences, skills and produce. Master Gardener volunteers will organize and lead Victory Garden Circles, and teach the basics of gardening.A leader of one garden circle, Master Gardener Justin McInteer, was featured and pictured in the LA Times blog. McInteer will be running his class in a small Sunset Boulevard backyard.
“This is a drastically scaled down but still functional version of what you learn in the master gardening class," McInteer was quoted. "It’s information for the individual growing his own garden, taking advantage of the space they already have.”
LA County residents can find a class location and more details on the Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative Web site.
Santa Clara County's Master Gardener Program has channeled UC's research-based gardening information to county residents for 25 years, according to an article marking the milestone that was published in the San Jose Mercury-News last Friday.
Last year, the program's 50 volunteers answered nearly 3,000 questions from home gardeners who called, e-mailed or visited.
The article - written by Master Gardeners Rebecca Jepsen, Lee Ann Ray and Deyana Len - delineated some of the online resources offered by the UC Master Gardener program.
New pages on the Santa Clara Master Gardeners' Web site highlighting water-wise plants - Names and photos of a variety of native and non-native ornamental plants that will thrive in the region's dry climate and clay soil with little to no water once established.
UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program - Extensive information on virtually all aspects of pest management for the home gardener. The site is chock-full of high-quality photos that allow you to identify all the good and bad bugs, pests, diseases, weeds and a whole lot more.
The article closed with recently and frequently asked questions, information on becoming a Master Gardener, and contact information for the Santa Clara program. Click here for the Santa Clara County Master Gardener Program Web site.
An inner-city Los Angeles school has a small vegetable garden that is overseen by a University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener, according to a story published yesterday in the Daily Breeze.
"This may be the only place they can have access to nature," the story quoted Master Gardener Kris Lauritson. "It's an outdoor classroom."
The school serves primarily Latino students; about 80 percent qualify for free and reduced lunches.
The program teaches students about healthy diets and gives them a chance to taste fresh foods they may not normally have at home. Students eat what they grow - turnips and broccoli, lettuce and spinach, soybeans, potatoes and cabbage.
Alice Acevedo, a school office worker observing the students as they worked in the garden, told reporter Douglas Morino the kids won't touch fresh fruits and vegetables put out in the cafeteria at lunch.
"But once they grow it themselves, they can't get enough. They're taking pride in what they're doing," Acevedo was quoted.
Los Angeles County's 181 Master Gardeners volunteered 9,272 hours in 2008, serving 87,376 low-income gardeners at 28 community gardens, 46 school gardens, 15 shelter gardens, 5 senior gardens and 13 fairs and farmers markets. For more information on the program and its services, see the LA Common Ground Web site.
It's worth clicking through to the Daily Breeze to see the photographs that accompany the school garden story. The off-axis, vivid and creative images are uncommon in photojournalism. I asked ANR Communications Services media services manager Mike Poe about the trendy garden art.
He said a lot of hip, cool, current video is shot that way.
"The photos are emulating that style to appeal to a young audience or indicate the subject is young," Poe said. "It's a technique I'd use very judiciously."
The school garden story and photos also appeared in the Pasadena Star-News.
A recent article in the Redding Record-Searchlight said the program is an offshoot the UC Davis Arboretum All-stars program, in which standout plants at the arboretum are promoted to home gardeners. Five years ago, arboretum officials decided to extend their program across California.
"Our hope is that all California gardens slowly transition to more eco-friendly gardens using less water and fewer chemicals - if any chemicals at all," the article quoted Karrie Reid, UC Davis Arboretum trials manager.
To see how the plants do in California's diversity of climates, Reid called in the UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners, who provide garden education programs in 52 California counties. Arboretum All-Stars are now being field tests in 13 trial gardens from Redding in the north to San Diego in the south.
Master Gardeners apply no pesticides or fertilizers, and monitor and rate the plants on a scale from one to five each month. Eventually, those that are deemed tough enough will be marketed with the "Arboretum All-Stars" label.
Reporter Susan Meeker does make one common mischaracterization, calling it the "University of California Davis, Cooperative Extension Master Gardener program," but she goes on to capture the most important aspects of UC's volunteer garden information extension organization in a 400-word article published yesterday.
"We're not experts," the story quoted program coordinator Gerry Hernandez, "but we have the university and all of its research behind us."
The article details the Master Gardener training and activities and notes that all of the volunteers' efforts have an emphasis on sustainability and protecting the environment.