In May, there are many opportunities to establish your volunteering for the season. Libraries, schools, community gardens and community beautification projects are each in need of Master Gardener leadership in May. Community gardens that donate produce to food banks are especially in need of layout, planning and planting expertise. Share the wealth of knowledge you have with your community!
Below are some projects that are looking for Extension Master Gardener assistance. You may also check out our events page.
PEACE Ranch: email@example.com, speak with Jackie K. They are looking for a Master Gardener to guide them through the process of taking care of an existing perennial bed and a vegetable garden.
Leelanau Christian Neighbors (LCN) is in need of a program coordinator. Please contact Nancy Popa at 231-944-9509 for more information. LCN is a 501c(3) organization that provides a variety of services to the residents of Leelanau County. Staffed by volunteers, their food pantry averages over 6,000 visits per year and serves over 18,000 individuals. Their garden, which was first planted in 2017, produces fresh vegetables to help stock the food pantry. LCN needs Extension Master Gardeners to help teach their volunteers about all aspects of growing fresh vegetables, from diagnostics to pest management and practices that protect water quality. This EMG project can be found in the VMS (Master Gardener Volunteer Management System https://michigan.volunteersystem.org) under Projects: Leelanau Christian Neighbors Food Pantry Garden. LCN is located at 7322 E. Duck Lake Road (M-204), Lake Leelanau, MI They can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LCNserves/
LEO CREEK PRESERVE: Master Gardener volunteers are needed to help create educational materials for a new permaculture garden and interpretive trail. Volunteers could help with even one topic or piece of the garden. It could be one day or multiple days and any help is welcome. The garden will educate the community on sustainable, organic gardening. The new permaculture garden is located on The Leelanau Trail between 4th Street and Eckerle Road in Suttons Bay. It will be used for food production and education programs for the community. Please contact Kate Thornhill directly with any questions or to volunteer…231-313-1980 firstname.lastname@example.org
Munson Hospice House, 450 Brook St. TC 49684. Contact Gayla Elsner at email@example.com
Keep in touch with volunteering opportunities through MSUE email updates and MGANM.
by Jill Greenfield, Physical Therapist at Munson Home Health Care
With the growing season in Michigan right around the corner,now is a good time to stretch and strengthen the muscles that you will be using to create your masterpiece gardens. Too often, we wait for that beautiful spring day to turn over the soil, pull weeds and remove debris without having prepared our bodies for these activities.Then when the next day is also a lovely spring day, we are either too sore from the chores of the day before to garden again that day, or we push ourselves to garden anyway and risk further long-lasting injuries.
Whether you have a small container garden or several beds in your yard, using proper body mechanics is not always easy with gardening. You cannot always “lift with your knees with your back straight” like the literature tells us to when movinga 3-cubic foot bag of soil or mulch. How many times have you gardened on your hands and knees until your feet and hands are practically numb from the restriction of circulation? I know that I am guilty of this!
So how does one begin to even think about getting in shape for gardening? If you have been somewhat inactive over the winter, it begins simply with walking. Find a place with no snow or ice and begin a walking program, under the guidance of your physician if you have health issues, and get your arms swinging in unison with your legs. This gets weight-bearing through the legs for strengthening and improves your balance and coordination.
The shoulder muscles especially need some TLC with gardening. The incidence of rotator cuff injuries increases as we age and there is a slightly higher incidence of this type of injury for women than men. Imagine the motion of pulling a heavy trash bag out of a trash can and lifting the bag with your hands holding the bag about shoulder width apart in an up and out motion. This is a common mechanism for a rotator cuff injury. The solution is to tip the trash can on its side and slide the bag out. Then you have the option of grabbing onto the bag from the bottom and lifting it.
Some easy shoulder exercises to loosen the muscles are shoulder rolls forward and back, standing in a doorway with your forearms on the door frame and leaning forward just until you feel a slight stretch in the front of your shoulder and clasping your hands together in front of your body and bringing both arms up above your head. Please do not subscribe to the “no pain, no gain” attitude. You may feel some muscle tightness, but it should not be painful.
Shoulders are not typically weight bearing joints, so it takes some time to get them ready if you are a hands and knees gardener. Practice getting on your hands and knees in the privacy of your own living room. While in this position, try the cat and cow exercise. For the yoga aficionados out there, you will know exactly what I mean. While on your hands and knees, arch your back (cat), and then stick out your bum and let your belly sink toward the floor (cow). If you are unable to be on your hands and knees on the floor, you can also do this exercise sitting in a chair. This is a great exercise to stretch and strengthen your back muscles.
Another good hands and knees exercise is the child’s pose. This will stretch your back, hips and knees. Start in the hands and knees position with your knees spread apart as wide as your hips. Rock backward and bring your stomach to the floor while leaving your arms outstretched. You can leave your arms outstretched in front of you or you can walk them to the side to get a rotational stretch. A way to modify this exercise to not be on your hands and knees is to stand at the side of the bed leaning forward with your hands on the bed and lean backward feeling the stretch through your spine and shoulders.
One of the most important things to remember while gardening is to take frequent breaks. If you start to have discomfort in your back or a joint, reposition yourself or take a walk. Try to vary your tasks so that you do not spend too much time in one position.
Master Gardener Coordinator’s Corner: Finding Master Gardener Projects in your area this spring
by Nate Walton, MSU Extension Master Gardener Coordinator for Leelanau, Benzie and GT County
Spring is a busy time for everyone, especially gardeners. At the MSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program, we want to make it easy for you to find volunteer opportunities.
The best way for a certified Extension Master Gardener to find information about local master gardener projects is through the MSU EMG Volunteer Management System (VMS). The VMS homepage will often contain info about new projects or those that are currently seeking more volunteers. You can even use the Event Calendar on the left side of the VMS homepage to find and sign up for upcoming MG events! The full list of area projects can be found by clicking on the Projects link under General Information. This will take you to a list of educational opportunities and projects. Click on the project name for a description and contact info of the project’s leader(s). The project information found on the VMS is maintained by your local MG coordinator or VMS ambassador, and it will contain the most up to date project information for your area.
A list of area Master Gardener projects can also typically be found on your local Master Gardener Association web page. In Northwest Michigan, for example, the MGANM maintains a list of MG projects by county with links to partner websites where available.
When in doubt, contact your local MG coordinator or VMS ambassador for additional project information.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for helping to make a difference in your community!
Munson Hospice House, photo by same
Hospice House Rose Garden Update
by Gayla Elsner
The Munson Hospice House, 450 Brook Street, Traverse City, is having a work bee for its rose garden from 9am to mid-afternoon on Sunday, April 29. The work bee is a collaboration between MGANM and the Cherry Capital Rose Society (CCRS).
Hospice House Volunteer Coordinator and Bereavement Counsellor Kjirsten Boeve already has a group of hospice volunteers ready to help that day who will need rose care knowledge and direction from Master Gardeners and rose experts. There are approximately 100 Knockout roses and various other gardens around Hospice House that will need tending to in preparation for the spring and summer growing season.
Judy Guith from CCRS has been instrumental in organizing the event and the group plans to donate 50 lbs. of a special rose fertilizer it makes. Other CCRS members, including Nancy Larson and Peggi Tucker, also plan to be at the work bee.
Hospice House garden, photo by Gayla Elsner
Work bee volunteers need not stay for the whole day but may drop in as their schedule permits. However, MGs should plan to bring their own tools to the event, especially good pruners, and be prepared to show novices how to sharpen them right. Weeding tools, shovels, buckets and tarps will probably be needed as well. In addition, it is advised that you bring water and sunscreen/hat and wear your MG apron if you have one.
After the big day on April 29th, the group will meet again at the end of August for another work bee, the purpose of which will be to guide garden clean-up and maintenance for the end of the season.
This is a great project that all those involved with can be very proud of. Your work will give those experiencing hospice care a beautiful place to relax and remember and, hopefully, to find peace. That is something special.
Suttons Bay Rain Garden workers, 2017. Photo by Village of Suttons Bay
Get the Most Value Out of Your Time: Garden More!
by Nate Walton, Consumer Horticulture Program Instructor, MSUE-Leelanau County
Increasing technology in the workplace has its benefits…and its costs. One of the greatest costs, as I see it, is the devaluing of time. Technology allows us to accomplish more in a shorter period of time, which also means that more is expected of us for the same rate of pay. In many modern jobs, employees are paid based on the time spent at work rather than the value of their output. In addition, there is also an implicit (or even explicit) expectation that you should be “available” outside of normal work hours as well. The result of this combination is a perceived (or real) reduction in the value of our time. But do not despair! There is a solution.
Michigan’s Extension Master Gardener volunteer program is undergoing some changes in 2018 in order to meet the standards set by the Extension Master Gardener National Committee. Since its inception in 1972, the Extension Master Gardener (EMG) program has grown from a small volunteer program in a single state, to a program with over 90,000 volunteers in 49 states and 10 Canadian provinces. With this growth has arisen a need for the national entity to set standards that ensure the sustained growth and effectiveness of all state and county programs as they work to fulfill the EMG mission. Our Michigan EMG program meets or exceeds the majority of those standards with one exception: our annual hours required for re-certification.
In order to bring our state program in line with the minimum national standards, the Michigan EMG committee, with input from individual EMGs, EMG groups and EMG associations, will be increasing the annual volunteer and continuing education hours needed to re-certify by five hours each, effective January 1, 2018. This means that in order to re-certify next January (2019) all Michigan EMGs will need to complete and report in the VMS by Dec. 31, 2018, a minimum of 20 volunteer hours and 10 continuing education hours. MSUE staff and VMS Ambassadors will do our best to help you be successful in meeting these standards in 2018.
As you can see, your time spent gardening is still perceived as extremely valuable, so valuable in fact that we are asking for more of it! Gardening is an activity that, thankfully, has escaped many of the costs of modern technology. So this spring you can rejoice as you turn off your electronic devices and spend some valuable hours gardening and educating your community as a Master Gardener Volunteer!
2017 newly certified Master Gardeners
Master Gardener Coordinator’s Corner
Nate Walton, Consumer Horticulture Program Instructor, MSUE-Leelanau County
Looking back on 2017, for me it was a year of firsts. I had my first day on the job as your Master Gardener Coordinator on June 12th, my first visit to a biodynamic tea farm (Light of Day Organics) and the first MSU Extension Plant Diagnostic Clinic staffed by Master Gardeners in Benzie County! The list could go on and on, especially if I included some of the new EMG projects started this year. With a combined workforce of 123 certified EMGs and trainees, you all have really been working hard for positive change in our northern Lower Peninsula communities this year.
In recognition of all that you have accomplished, I also had the great pleasure of hosting my first EMG awards luncheon this year in partnership with MGANM. Highlights of the luncheon included the wonderful decorations by the MGANM decorations committee (chaired by Evelyn Laman), the silent auction with many unique items donated by local businesses and artisans and the deeelicious lunch catered by 9 Bean Rows of Suttons Bay.
During the awards ceremony, honors were bestowed upon Kelly Dillan, Sue Soderberg and Sue Warren, all of whom received their 500 hour pins this year!
-We also welcomed the newly certified EMGs Paula Ciccone, Sandy Coobac, Victor Dinsmore, Christine Koubek, Julia Page, Nancy Popa, Michael O’brien, Lori Piggot and Amy Tongue to our ranks.
-In addition, Joanne Johnsen, Becky Johnson and Glynis Waycaster were all recognized for achieving Advanced Master Gardener status.
– We also delivered well-deserved 250 hour pins to Sandra Clark, Michele Buday, Nancy Larson, Kathy Pilon, Lori Oberson, Judith Reich, Cynthia Sack, Steve Stephens and Marvin Walter.
-Ann McInnis was also recognized for the remarkable achievement of topping the 2500 hours mark this year!
-Our Master Gardeners of the Year this year were Tom Patton for Leelanau County, Sue Warren for Benzie County and Rebecca Mang for Grand Traverse County.
Let these happily hard-working EMGs be an inspiration to all of us as we move into the New Year!
Speaking of the New Year, 2018 is shaping up to be another great year for our local EMG program. We will be hosting an EMG training program at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center (March 8th – June 14th) on Thursday evenings (5:30 – 9:30 pm). Enrollment is open and can be accessed by following this link. Please tell your friends, family and neighbors about this exciting opportunity to join the Master Gardener Volunteer program! Also, let me know if you would be interested in helping out with the course in any way and/or if you would be interested in serving as a Mentor to a new trainee. Stay tuned for more ways to volunteer this winter/spring and in the meantime, have a great 2018!
Suttons Bay Rain Garden workers, 2017. Photo by Village of Suttons Bay
Suttons Bay Rain Gardens Prepared for Winter
Ruth Steele-Walker, Advanced Master Gardener
Area Master Gardeners helped educate a group of about 40 community volunteers from the Montessori School “The Children’s House” at an October 20 clean-up of the rain gardens located throughout the Village of Suttons Bay.
The event gave those in attendance an opportunity to learn from MSU Extension Master Gardeners, who moved among the gardens offering weed identification, garden maintenance guidance and education on the many environmental benefits of rain gardens. In addition, participants learned about the importance of flowering plants and native grasses for providing soil retention, support for pollinator populations, as well as food and habitat for songbirds.
The rain gardens were established in Suttons Bay in 2013 to help eliminate direct runoff from the village’s storm water system into Grand Traverse Bay. Each year the village has 15-20 volunteers who are trained to and regularly care for the rain gardens.
Before this year’s fall clean-up and mulching began, volunteers from The Children’s House and the volunteer garden caretakers were treated to an educational presentation by Suttons Bay Village Manager Wally Delamater. The presentation highlighted the history of the rain garden project and use of Michigan native plants.
While the ability to do a water quality testing follow-up has been hampered by budget constraints, since the gardens were installed Suttons Bay officials have seen noticeable changes in the water at the storm drains that empty into the bay. Prior to the gardens’ installation plumes of debris and pollutant-filled run-off used to be seen entering the bay off the village’s marina park beach.
Black plumes of sediment running into Suttons Bay after a rain event. Photo by Village of Suttons Bay
In the photo taken in 2011 prior to installing the gardens, you can see a black plume spreading into the swimming area from the first flush of storm water. Since the installation of the rain gardens and storm drain improvements there has not been a reoccurrence of those plumes, reports Delamater. “In fact,” he says, “during routine storm events no storm water entering the system reaches the bay.”
So, not only are the gardens a beautiful additions to Suttons Bay’s downtown, they’re having a significant effect on the quality of the bay. Thank you to all the volunteers who have helped to make this project such a success!
Working in the rain gardens, 2017. Photo by Village of Suttons Bay
Sidebar: Computer modeling done by The Watershed Center estimates that the rain gardens annually prevent one ton of sediment, six pounds of phosphorus and 42 pounds of nitrogen from entering Grand Traverse Bay.
Cheryl Gross, Advanced Master Gardener, Vice President MGANM, President Plant It Wild
The May Farm in Benzie County raises cattle, sheep and chickens on a rather small plot of rented land near the corners of Lobb and Graves roads in Frankfort, MI.Farmer Paul May rents the pasture and installed electric fencing eight years ago.The land was fallow and degraded.Beginning slowly, animals were put on the land and moved section by section following a rotational grazing pattern.Cattle and sheep graze the pasture and are moved daily to ‘fresh’ ground.Broiler chickens follow helping to process the ruminant leavings and add their own.
Visiting Paul on the pasture requires a bit of time, especially if you catch him and he begins talking about the ‘result’ of rotational grazing. He is passionate about the web of life created between the soil, the plants, and the animals.He is observing dramatic changes in the plants in the pasture.The soil is improving, the plants are improving, the animals are growing better with the better nutrition, and the pasture is becoming more resilient.As a result, the pasture can support more animals in smaller spaces.The more compact the daily space, the greater impact on the plants and soil and the longer plant recovery time.
“Today’s “cute puppy” photo. Just after the daily afternoon move, everyone joyfully noshing on the “ice cream”. The forage is at it’s best in the afternoon, unless it’s nasty hot, and I try to size the paddocks so that they’re ready to eat, but not lacking. It’s not weight-loss camp, after all. And, with the beautiful timely rains we’ve had, there is plenty of feed. So, seriously, if you’re within reach, catch me for the afternoon move. It really is cool!”
-Paul May of May Farm via Facebook. Photo by same
I recently visited the pasture at the end of the day when it was time to move the animals.The 20 cattle and 28 sheep begin to get in line when Paul shows up. They watch him carefully as he moves fencing, refills water barrels, and opens the ‘door’ to fresh clean pasture into which the animals rush.Behind, they leave cow pies that are already being broken down by dung beetles and grazed plants ready to be nourished and regrow.
The May Farm receives some funding from the USDA / NRCS for Paul’s farming practices.A recent grant includes a requirement for establishing a pollinator garden outside of the pasture.For the size of his pasture, the garden must be .3 of an acre or 13,068 square feet.Because Paul’s head is into ruminate feed and soil building and animal raising, he asked Plant It Wild to help with the May Farm Pasture Pollinator Project.
A committee of three, two Master Gardeners and a third Plant It Wild member volunteered.To date, we have researched and accumulated the information summarized below:
site evaluation for invasive plant species
site measurements for garden location between the pasture fence and road easement to capture 13,000 square feet
list of canopy, understory, shrub, forb, and grass plants best suited to dry, upland conditions
information on plant value to pollinators, larval hosts, birds, and the like
plant/seed sourcing possibilities and estimated costs
planting and seeding design
pollinator shelter suggestions
We are aided in our work through the following sources:
Attracting Native Pollinators, The Xerces Society Guide, c 2011
Pollinators of Native Plants, Heather Holm, c 2014
Landscaping with Native Plants of Michigan, Lynn M. Steiner, c 2006
NRCS Lists of plants suitable for pollinator habitat (link)
Bringing Nature Home, Douglas Tallamy, c 2007
Paul May will havereceived a completed report from us by the end of August which will outline selected plants, a planting plan, optional plant sourcing, and more.On October 14, the May Farm will host a Pasture Walk from 10am – 2pm.All are welcome.Paul will be educating the public on his farming practices and engaging his customers in his rotational grazing and environmentally beneficial farming practices.Locally sourced food and May Farm meats will be served. Plant It Wild and Master Gardeners will have an opportunity to present information on the pollinator project planned for the pasture edge to meet USDA and NRCS requirements.
While our role is informational and advisory, gardeners cannot help but want to get dirty.I suspect that Phyllis Robinson, MG, Joy Kennedy, and I will be on hand for at least part of the garden installation in September of 2018.
Reversing the trend in pollinator and migratory bird decline is something everyone can do.There are tremendous, timely resources available through bookstores, MSU, USDA and other on-line sources.The most recent data shows that using straight native plant species is the MOST beneficial to the insects and birds we are trying to feed.Plants from other continents and cultivars are not recommended for pollinator gardens.Click here to see the May Farm Pollinator Report including the dry-upland plant list.
Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan members make our world more beautiful by participating in gardening projects, educational programs, activities and CONNECTING A COMMUNITY OF GARDENERS THROUGH LEARNING!
8527 East Government Center Drive (Suite 107) – Suttons Bay, MI 49682 Phone: 231-256-9888 :: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org