Master Gardener Volunteer Project: The Real Dirt

Cheryl Gross, Advanced Master Gardener, Real Dirt Chair

Here, at the midnight hour, the RD is staged for blasting and the Serve section is blank, empty. How can this be? Aren’t Master Gardeners ALL ABOUT VOLUNTEERING? And then it comes to mind, the MOST obvious of all volunteering projects, The Real Dirt.

Yes, the Real Dirt is a Master Gardener Volunteer project, and a clean one at that.

-The Real Dirt is an electronic publication of the Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan.

-The Real Dirt is published every two months in January, March, May, July, September, and November.

-The Real Dirt is all volunteer produced by a Team. The Team includes: Cheryl Gross, Chair; Whitney Miller, “Techie Chick”, Nancy Denison, Julie Peltier, Jamie Gothard, Becky Smits, Rebecca Carmein, Michele Worden, Lillian Mahaney, Jr. Master Gardener representative; Terry Harding, and Elise Carolan, MSU Extension MG Coordinator. This team is responsible for all that you see and read. They brainstorm, write, recruit writers, edit, give feedback, and photograph. The team is always open to new contributors.

-The Real Dirt is an open publication which means we welcome anyone as a subscriber. From the Real Dirt Team perspective, our volunteering is to serve other MGANM members as well as anyone else interested in horticultural education. All of our subscribers, certified Master Gardeners or not, are OUR service community.

The articles in the Real Dirt are wiggled into four major categories: Serve, Beautify, Nourish, and Steward. These four categories were derived from the chapters in the Master Gardener Volunteer Training Manual. All of our articles are to be scientifically/researched based. That is at the core of the Master Gardener educational outreach. The publication strives to offer timely articles for the garden calendar. Some of our contributors write casually, in a first-person, friendly style, while others are more ‘journalistic’ in nature. Either way, at the core, the content is solid to share helpful up-to-date horticultural information with our subscribers.

Educational horticultural outreach to the community is the purpose of the volunteer hours earned through publishing the Real Dirt. Not all Master Gardener volunteering requires kneeling in the real dirt.

If you would like to submit an article or have more questions, please feel free to contact Cheryl at