Serve – January 2021


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Help Needed – MGANM Programming Chairperson

Traverse City Has a Botanic Garden?

MGANM Annual Meeting Minutes and Recognition Event Summary



Help Needed – MGANM Programming Chairperson

MGANM is in desperate need of a Programming Chairperson.  The programs for 2021 have already been identified as well as many of the speakers.  We are looking for someone to take the lead on securing the speakers, writing short press releases, and writing speaker biographies.  You will be working with an awesome group of people on the programming committee.

Please give Nancy Popa a call at 231-944-9509 if interested.  


Traverse City Has a Botanic Garden?

By Pam Filkins, AEMG

“Traverse City has a botanic garden?!” This was a comment frequently made by co-workers when I first began volunteering at The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park in Traverse City in 2016.  After over a decade of careful planning and preparation, the garden is coming alive.

I am part of the “container team” which means that once a week I visit The Botanical Garden to water, weed and deadhead the container plants that surround the Visitor Center. Frequently, potted plants and shrubs are at the Center waiting to be planted and they also require a regular drink as does the Salad Garden behind the Visitor Center. Generally, I spend a little over an hour gardening, answering visitor questions and assisting them in identifying the plants The Friendly Garden Club has beautifully planted the containers. I meet visitors from all over and thoroughly enjoy helping them to have a great experience at the Garden while discovering new plants and shrubs. Getting to know the docents at the Garden has been so much fun.  They are a wonderful, dedicated group!  Having been a small part of The Garden for the last four years, watching everything grow and bloom, makes me feel rooted in something beautiful.

Read more at the Botanic Garden Update


MGANM Annual Meeting Minutes and Recognition Event Summary

By:  Erin Paxson, EMG Trainee

To watch the meeting, click on this link:

The meeting began on November 8th, 2020 with Association highlights of 2020 from Michele Worden. This year, nine education programming events took place this year with six being virtual.  Programming attendance was slightly higher for the virtual programs. Currently there are 99 active members and a 15% increase in followers on social media. There were two openings available for The Real Dirt; one for content editor (now filled) and the other for a layout editor.  A tentative calendar of events for 2021 programming was presented; the program content is inspired by survey results. Michele mentioned the financial report should be available by February.  This year the Mills Community House accounted for 20% of all volunteer hours. And the scholarship recipient this year was Haley Hildebrand who has previously worked with the Groundwork Center in Traverse City.

Nancy Popa revealed the early membership renewal raffle winner was Carla Benson-Burns.  Voting took place to increase board member terms from 2-two-year terms to 3-two-year terms which passed. The new slate of directors are: Michele Worden as President, James Egan as Secretary and Joanne Johnson as Director B.  Congratulations were given to Fern Spence and Michele Worden who both won the Service to the Association Award.  Fern was a project leader for the Downtown TC Planter Project and was interviewed in the Record Eagle.  Michele is the face of MGANM and puts a tremendous amount of effort into membership and marketing.  There is a need for leads for Programming, Events, and the Boardman River Center Committees. If you are interested, contact Nancy Popa at 231-944-9509 or

The first program of the evening was presented by Sue Newman.  The title of the program was “My Garden: The Good, the Bad and the Fungal-y”.  Sue is an avid vegetable gardener.  She has been certified as a master gardener since 2001. Sue moved to Traverse City in 2015 and grew up in Clarkston.

Sue’s garden is aptly named Windy Acres. This 48x75ft garden was built by Sue and her husband after much careful planning. It features 16 cinderblock lined raised garden beds and is surrounded by a five-foot chain-link fence with an additional three feet of support posts. Sue claims the height of the fence successfully keeps deer out of the garden.  The presentation was filled with veggie gardening tips and tricks.  Using cinderblocks to create the raised beds allows soil to heat up quickly in the Spring and stay warm later in the Fall by efficiently retaining heat. Raised beds delay frost events, allow for easier harvesting and planting. Soil does not become compacted and row covers can easily be added.  Sue has her beds oriented north/south, planting tall plants on the north side for maximum sun exposure.  Espalier semi-dwarf apple trees save space as does planting small plants in the holes of the cinderblocks. 

The irrigation system consists of a water timer with four zones and a water line with retractable hose.  Sue utilizes plant supports due to the wind and prefers square cages as they fold up for easy storage.  Pepper ladders, and hog wire trellis provide support. To control pests, Sue prefers cultural control methods like hand-picking larvae and adult insects and using row covers as physical barriers against pests. Constant monitoring, picking off infected leaves, and using organic fungicide are Sue’s methods for disease control. Post season care tips include soaking pots, any staking materials, potato bags, etc. in a 10% bleach solution for 20 minutes or a wipe down with rubbing alcohol.  This impressive garden also hosts a flower garden that provides fresh-cut flowers and brings in pollinators.  It is clear the years of garden experience Sue has acquired as a Master Gardener have culminated in this productive, neat, and beautiful garden.

The next presentation was titled “Victory Garden” and focused on how to safely preserve home grown food. Kara Lynch and Karen Fifield are food safety educators with MSU extension. Kara began with a reminder to practice good sanitation prior to food preservation. Tips for freezing food included: circulating inventory, organizing by types of food, inventory lists and checking the thermometer periodically. When packing food, it is best to pick a container that is made for freezing and avoid recycled single use containers.  Cool before freezing, if blanching, place vegetables in an ice bath for good color. Pack food in serving size quantities up to 1 quart.  Tomatoes, onions, peppers, zucchinis do not need to be blanched before freezing.

When canning high acid foods use a water bath or atmospheric steam canner.  Salsa can be canned in this manner only with appropriate recipes. Any vinegar used must be at least 5% acid.  Jars should be made to handle the temperature changes.  Quick pickling without processing takes only 30 minutes.  Low acid foods will need acid added and the correct amount of salt is vital. Leftover brine can be used for a few days but must be refrigerated.

Karen finished the presentation with pressure canning.  This type of canning is used when mixing high and low acid vegetables in one jar, for soups, meats, and most vegetables.  It is best to preserve clean, quality produce. Altitude affects the amount of time at pressure and pressure gauges should be calibrated periodically. Venting the canner for 10 min after the jars are in place and using sanitized utensils are key.  The Ball Blue Book and Michigan Fresh are good resources for approved recipes.

The MGANM meeting concluded with Master Gardener recognition:   

  • Newly certified EMGs included: Molly Francis, Katrina Verlac, James Egan, Elaine Michener-Israel, David Merrell, Connie Veverica, Linda Racine, and Patricia Compton.
  • Advanced EMGs with 100 Volunteer hours: Sandy Coobac, Jean Jenkins, Laura McCain, Yvonne Nault, Laurie Schneider.
  • Lifetime Service Awards
    • 250 hours: Molly Francis and Jacqueline Hice
    • 500 hours: Judy Van De Weghe
    • 1000 hours: Gary Michalek, Steve Stephens, Sue Warren
  • Master Gardener of the Year
    • In Benzie County, Gary Michalek was awarded for his donation garden work in the Good News Garden and Mills House.
    • In Grand Traverse county, Michele Worden for her work with MGANM and the Downtown TC Planters.
    • In Leelanau county, Lillian Mahaney for her work with the EMG News and Jr. Master Gardeners.




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