The 2016 Master Gardener program came to a close on Wednesday and we (the Extension staff/faculty) are filled with gratitude and joy to have been able to celebrate another successful growing season with the best group of people, gardeners! The event was a huge success with over 100 in attendance. We held a delightful dinner at the Jordan Valley Conservation Garden Park, which was the perfect backdrop to our fall themed event. The gorgeous, water-wise, ornamental grasses were in full bloom and the views were unbeatable.
We spent the evening playing games, highlighting the volunteer’s hard work and quizzing guests on gardening topics. We ended the evening with the grand finale announcement of the 2016 Master Gardener of the Year (the most prestigious of titles). For more details on this, and all of the successes of the 2016 Master Gardener Program please continue reading below!
This year we had 62 Master Gardener ‘students’ graduate from the program by attending 13 weeks of training and giving back at least 40 hours of volunteer service in Salt Lake County. In addition, we had 99 ‘graduate’ Master Gardeners who completed a minimum of 15 hours of volunteer service that are required to maintain an active status as a Master Gardener in our program. Many went above and beyond what we ask bringing our total volunteer service to 5,286 hours which is valued at $122,000. Wow!
The horticulture team of Salt Lake County had a lot going on this year and even expanded on a few projects. None of this would be possible without our dedicated volunteers. We had 7 major projects where efforts were focused. Through these projects we educated and/or served thousands of community members. Below is a breakdown of the projects, the hours donated and the number community members served (when available).
|Meals Plus Harvest Garden at Wheeler Farm||37 workdays, 570 service hours|
|Senior Center Pop-Up Farmer’s Markets||25 markets, 100+ service hours, 1,168 seniors served|
|Demonstration Teaching Garden||9 workdays, 168 service hours|
|Farmer’s Market Information Booth(s)||12 markets, 264 service hours|
|Diagnostic Help Desk||231 service hours, 2,197 public questions answered|
|Protectors of Urban Pollinators (PUPS) Youth Program||2 events, 168 service hours, 1,152 youth reached|
|Sustainable Agriculture Youth Summer Camps||9 weeks of camp, 69 service hours, 801 youth reached|
|Public Garden Tours and Classes|
This year marked some major milestones in our horticulture program, including the ‘Grand Opening’ of our Demonstration Teaching Garden at Wheeler Farm. We also hosted a Pollinator Week event in the garden and our 3rd Annual Organic Growing Workshop at Wheeler Farm. Our volunteers were very involved in all of these events and we are so thankful for all of their hard work, investment and dedication to our programs.
Master Gardener of the Year
Every year the Salt Lake County horticulture team honors a volunteer that went above and beyond. We collaborate to identify one individual who went the extra mile, gave 110%, exceeded any expectation and …..well you get the idea. This year our ‘Master Gardener of the Year’ was an outstanding woman named Sharon!
Sharon graduated from the Master Gardener Program in 2015, during which time she donated over 60 hours of service. Since graduating, Sharon agreed to serve on an advisory board and take on a role of ‘garden manager’ at the Meals Plus Harvest (MPH) Garden. In these positions Sharon assisted in the planning, maintaining and harvesting of the MPH Garden. She also led volunteer workdays and provided feedback to USU Extension staff and faculty.
As the season progressed Sharon got involved in our Pop-Up Farmer’s market program. She met with our community partners, picked up donated produce and assisted with its delivery around the Salt Lake Valley to different Senior Centers. She donated 92 hours of service to the community, she brought a positive attitude to all of the projects she participated in and was willing to face the challenges that come with managing a public garden. We are forever grateful for her investment and commitment to our programs and the community. Thank you Sharon from the bottom of our hearts!
If you are excited about all the wonderful work above and want to be involved, sign up here for the 2017 Master Gardener Program and come join in the fun!