- Author: Dohee Kim
Family and friends joined graduates from both programs as they were presented with an official UC certificate and badge. Both celebrations, that included a bountiful potluck and silent auction, were held recently at UC Cooperative Extension in East Los Angeles.
Armed with all things plants or food preservation, they are ready to go out into various LA communities to share their new knowledge with the general public, community and school gardens, neighborhood farmers markets, and community-based organizations.
The Master Gardener curriculum emphasizes sustainable gardening of fruits, vegetables, flowers and shrubs, along with composting, pest management and harvesting. The Master Food Preserver program, on the other hand, teaches trainees how to dehydrate, ferment, freeze, can (water bath and pressure), pickle and prepare emergency food items, utilizing USDA standards.
"The Master Gardener program has helped round out my knowledge as a gardener so that I may better serve my local school and community," said Ynez Zavala, Master Gardener and teacher at Enadia Way Elementary School in West Hills, Calif. "I teach students in several grade levels to sow, grow and harvest food, and being a Title 1 school, it is a wonderful thing that the children get to take home food that they grew at school," he added.
"I find that when talking with people about the benefits of growing their own food, it helps to be able to share ideas of how they can prepare and eat their vegetables in delicious ways," said Elizabeth Sala, Master Food Preserver and volunteer at Harbor Hills Community Garden. "Now that I have completed the Master Food Preserver program, I can extend those conversations into even more areas, by suggesting ways they can preserve their harvests into the next season by using many of the techniques I have learned in the program," she added.
Due to the recent economic downturn and rising cost of food, interest in home gardening, urban agriculture and food preservation has significantly grown. Los Angeles County residents want to know how to grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables AND save their harvested bounty beyond the growing season.
For more information on UC Cooperative Extension's Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver programs, please visit our website.