President’s Letter – March 2021

by Michele Worden, AEMG, MGANM President

As we slog through of slush of late winter, I am excited by the opportunities that I see and by the progress we have made on our mission of education.

I am amazed and grateful for the wonderful volunteers that have stepped up and made our association better.  Great things are happening!  Thank you all for answering the call and sharing your numerous talents.

Molly Bacon has led the charge to update and improve our website.  Please look at the new ease of finding useful information and upcoming events.  We have a committee that is working with Molly, but we also welcome any input on how to make things better from the membership.  Let us know what works and what needs improving.

Molly has also been leading the effort to expand and improve The Real Dirt with her prolific group of Master Gardener writers and editors.  We discovered that not all members were receiving the newsletter because of confusion around how to subscribe to it.  Thus, we have moved the delivery platform from MailChimp to our membership management software, Wild Apricot.  By going through Wild Apricot to distribute the newsletter, all members will get The Real Dirt via email.  Archives of past Real Dirt articles will still appear on the website and be discoverable for the public.

A big thank you to Nancy Popa, our Vice-President, and the two Programming Co-chairs, Kay Goodall and Kathleen Mullaney.  They have taken the reins on getting the execution of the programming calendar working like clockwork.   I especially appreciate this as I have some family commitments that prevent me for being as active in the programming as I have in the past.  They are doing an amazing job of working with speakers, writing press releases and distributing them, creating the Facebook and Wild Apricot events and managing the registration process.  It is a lot of work.

MGANM programming has been more popular than ever.  In January we hosted a fascinating event on “Composting and Biochar” by Nate Walton and Tim Overdier that had 80 registrants. 

In February, we saw an amazing presentation on “Seed Starting” by our own Sue Newman.  Our Facebook post on this event went viral and had over 70,000 views and hundreds of shares.  We had 189 registrants.  I think we tapped into the pandemic desire of many to learn how to start a garden from seed.  We had so many registrants for Seed Starting that we had to move from the MGANM zoom platform (max 100) to Nate’s MSUE platform that can host effectively unlimited participants. 

For March, we are excited to welcome tribal member Nathan Wright on “Plants that Native Americans Used”.  So far, we have 128 registrants, and once again have had to  move to the MSUE zoom platform.  I am really looking forward to this talk!

The surge in interest in our programming has had another impact.  We have had an increase in new memberships as well as many of the optional $5 donations to view our programs.  We welcome all to our programming but ask for the optional donation to defray costs. The increase in memberships and programming donations has had a positive impact on our budget.  We will send our Annual Report out in March to the membership.

I am grateful that we have been able to expand the reach of our educational mission through virtual speakers and connecting people to resources.  But I also am itching to get in the garden and in our volunteer projects where we can promote horticultural education the old-fashioned way by getting our hands dirty. 

Start your seeds and plan your gardens.  Spring awaits!

Many thanks for all you do for our community.


President’s Letter – January 2021

by Michele Worden, AEMG, MGANM PresidentHappy New Year

I am writing this letter to you during a snowstorm on Christmas Eve.  The snow is falling heavily outside my window and it will be a white Christmas.  

It is an opportune time to look back over the past year at the challenges we faced and the accomplishments we achieved.  It is also an ideal vantage point to look forward to things to come in 2021.  

In 2020, we started the year in-person, and we had some interesting and informative programs on herbs and plant diagnostics.  When the pandemic struck, we moved our events to Zoom and continued our Schedule.  (A review of 2020 can be found in the event video for the November 8th Volunteer Recognition Event (see meeting minutes article and video) We found that online, our attendance at events actually increased.  I believe that is because, like our tagline, we actually are “Connecting gardeners through Learning”.  During the pandemic, it is even more important to connect Master Gardeners with each other. 

 Furthering both the Association’s mission of both sharing MSUE scientifically based horticultural knowledge, AS WELL AS connecting Master Gardeners together through learning, we have a quality line-up of speakers for 2021.  We do need your help to make it happen though.

As the Association’s portfolio of responsibilities has grown over the years, we find that we need additional help outside of the board.  For example, we need members to step forward and join our programming committee.  Please get in touch with me. 

Many thanks to Molly Bacon who is our new Real Dirt Editor!  She is shepherding an enthusiastic group of talented gardeners, cum writers, to produce this e-Newsletter that features local content. 

Another activity I am excited about is our new Master Gardener Book Club.  What a great way to connect through the winter months and during the pandemic!  I am excited to start reading the first book, Uprooted: A Gardener Reflects on Beginning Again by Page Dickey, over break.  You can join by logging into the membership portal (Wild Apricot) from our website, going to your profile settings, and selecting the Committee “Garden Book Club”.  This will allow you to get emails about the book club. 

Fun fact – if you want to connect to your fellow MGANM members, you can find a directory of members in the portal.  You can even download the Wild apricot membership app to your phone and have the events and directory at your fingertips.  What could be more convenient? 

We have projects that the Association would like to pursue in 2021 and we need volunteers to make them happen.  For example, we would like to do an update of our website content and a committee to review the website and propose updates would be most welcome. Remember, volunteering for the Association qualifies for Volunteer Hours. 

As we close upon 2020, I look back and feel very grateful for all of you, and what you contribute to the community. Your spirit of giving back through service, sharing your knowledge, and contributing through horticulture makes the world a better place.  Thank you. 

I look forward to serving with you in 2021, on Zoom, in the garden, fields, and streams of Northwest lower Michigan.

Carpe Diem! And Happy New Year

Coordinator Corner – January 2021

by Nate Walton, MSU Extension Master Gardener Coordinator/Consumer Horticulture Program Instructor

MSU Extension hires new staff to support consumer horticulture programming in Northwest Lower Michigan!  MSU Extension Master Gardeners and residents of Michigan’s Northwest Lower Peninsula can look forward to additional support from MSU Extension next year, in the form of recently hired Consumer Horticulture Program Assistant, Wendy Bell. Wendy will be working part time to support the efforts of the local MSU Extension consumer horticulture program, which includes administration of the MSU Extension Master Gardener Program®.
A resident of Traverse City, Wendy was hired late in 2020, to assist with the Volunteer Selection Process (VSP) for certified MSU Extension Master Gardeners. Going forward, in 2021, her responsibilities will be expanded to include administrative support for the entire Leelanau/Benzie/Grand Traverse MSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer roster. In addition, Wendy will be developing new educational program offerings from MSU Extension Consumer Horticulture, featuring MSU Extension Specialists, Extension Educators, as well as local educators. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for announcements from Wendy regarding these unique educational opportunities via your Volunteer Management System (VMS), program emails, and social media postings, in 2021.
At MSU Extension Consumer Horticulture, we are always open to suggestions, so if you have a topic that you would like to hear more about from MSU Extension, please let us know by email to Similarly, if you have a topic that you would like to develop into an educational program as part of your MSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer service, please reach out to Wendy.
As we enter the New Year, many of you will have the opportunity to greet Wendy as she helps you navigate your annual re-certification for MSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteers beginning this month! When that opportunity arises, please join me in offering Wendy a warm welcome to MSU Extension!  Thank you as always for volunteering with MSU Extension, and I look forward to working with all of you in 2021 and for many years to come.

Hello From Your New The Real Dirt Editor

by Molly Bacon, EMG Trainee

Molly Bacon

For those of you that read the “call for contributors” email, you will know that I am a recent Master Gardener trainee having finished my training in Nate’s first virtual Master Gardener class in November.

Since I have other volunteer newsletter experience, your need for an editor and my need for volunteer hours was a perfect fit.  So, here I am. Though not living where most of you do in Northwest Michigan, I have some indirect long-standing roots in your area. Since my grandparents bought a home in Empire over 100 years ago there has been at least one and usually more of the Bacon family in residence.  My home is on a small, rural, 24-acre lake in the northwest corner of Gladwin County, south of Houghton Lake. We have been here full-time for over three years but purchased it 11 years ago for retirement. I grew up in Michigan, but my family moved to Southern California when I was 16. I loved gardening in California since it is almost non-stop. The time there contributed to my current love of growing citrus and a prior long stint of orchid growing. After 20 years in California, my job transferred me to Georgia. They have a long growing season, but that red Georgia clay is terrible for most in-ground gardening except for Azaleas, Camellias, and Holly, which grew beautifully. I ended up growing my veggies in large nursery pots. I did continue orchid and citrus growing in a 10’ x 12’ heated greenhouse. After 25 years of living in the South, I knew I had to retire “back home” in Michigan and am so glad I did though I am having to re-learn how to garden in the North.

I am married to Chris Brown, who is a lot of help with the “heavy” gardening chores I prefer not to do myself. This summer he did some great landscaping on his own and keeps the compost barrel turned. He also helped me with the pots of veggies. The rain that caused the dam failures a bit further east of us dumped 7” of rain in our small lake in 24 hours and flooded the lot where I’ve had my raised beds for the past three years. Fortunately, I brought those nursery pots from my Georgia gardening and had not transplanted any seedlings yet so I made a quick change in how I would be gardening for 2020. Fortunately, it worked out well.

I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Science/Business Administration and spent most of my working career in IT, with the last 20-some years in IT Business Process Systems Analysis. Even though I am retired, I still spend a lot of time on computers.

Besides gardening, my other interests include our vintage motorhome and some other vintage cars, plus cooking and baking (my first 4-H blue ribbon), weather (National Weather Service Severe Weather Spotter and CoCoRHS volunteer measuring and mapping precipitation; rain, hail, and snow) finally rounding off with counting birds for Cornell University’s Winter Feeder Watch. Gee, what a crazy wild spectrum of interests. I also volunteer on the board of directors for the vintage motorhome and vehicle clubs, publish both organization’s newsletter and recently created and continue to maintain the website for the motorhome club.

Even with all this IT background, I would still love to have another “techie” comrade to work in collaboration with for the newsletter and website. Remember, “two heads are always better than one.” Whitney has done a great job, but it is time for her to focus on some other things in her life. If you have some computer knowledge and are interested, please let me know.

Please also consider joining the writing group.  The Real Dirt is a bi-monthly publication and you do not need to write for every issue.  

Contact me anytime at


MGANM Opportunities- July 2020

Editor, Real Dirt

If you like to write and have moderate to good writing skills, editing the MGANM Real Dirt is a TERRIFIC volunteering opportunity.  I did it for over 5 years and enjoyed it very much.  You get to work with a team of gardeners and writers who provide support and feedback.

Read about the job here: MGANM Real Dirt Editor/Chair

Job Summary:

The Real Dirt (RD) is the bi-monthly electronic newsletter of MGANM.  The Editor/Team Chair sets the tone for the RD Committee and contributors.  All articles are to be researched, scientifically-based and represent the most recent best-practices in horticulture.   The Editor/Chair begins the issue development process, brainstorms possible topics, receives suggestions from contributors, and sets deadlines.

Job Duties:

  • By the first of the month, prior to the bi-monthly issue, the Editor sends out emails to the team of contributors.  The email contains ideas for brainstorming relevant topics based upon the season and current events.           
  • Selects topics to research and write for each issue; encourages others to write.  The Real Dirt is divided into six categories:  News and Events, Administration, Serve, Beautify, Nourish, and Steward.  The four latter categories roughly include the chapters in the MG Volunteer Training Manual.  These topic areas are important to keep readers up-to-date on changes in the content.
  • Receives, reads and comments upon articles submitted by others.  Shares all writing with the established team members for inputs and edits.  Relies on those most skilled at editing.  Uses the 15th of the month as an editorial deadline.  Gathers photos to accompany articles when possible.
  • Roughly, by the 20th of the month, begins entering the submitted articles into a content format.  The format follows how articles will appear in the electronic version.  Writes a brief introduction or ‘teaser’ for each article.  The intro should be one to three sentences long and direct the reader as to what will be found in the article content.  Submits the Real Dirt content to the Technology Chair for uploading into the on-line format by the 25th of the month.
  • Receives a draft of the electronic format for final editing.  Re-reads all content and introductions.  Checks each link to ensure that it takes the reader to the proper article.  Sends any changes/concerns to the Technology Chair for final blast on or about 1:00 am on the first of the month.
  • Represents the Real Dirt Team to the Board, MSUE, and MG Training classes.  Recruits contributors. 

MGANM Technology Chair

Job Summary:

The MGANM Technology Chair manages technology-related areas: Website, membership management software, social media, and Mail Chimp for the Real Dirt on-line newsletter and email.  The use of Facebook and social media is an extension of the website as well as a way to network with people and organizations.  Mail Chimp is a program that is used to publish the Real Dirt and to email MGANM information to members or the public.

Job Duties:

  • Maintains log-ins and passwords for all online accounts including MGANM website, Wild apricot, social media, and MailChimp.
  • Works with an outside consultant, currently ProWeb Marketing, who hosts and maintains the functionality of the website to manage aspects of the website such as title fonts, and colors. ProWeb can assist with all major changes or updates.
  • Ensures that the website is kept up-to-date.
  • Creates social media posts and re-shares posts (from external sources), photos, and events that adhere to the Master Gardener Code of Conduct as laid out in the Master Gardener Manual.
  • Creates and maintains a template inside MailChimp to use for all Real Dirt publications. If any changes to this template are to be made, ensure that the Real Dirt team supports the changes. While the publisher has vast control of creativity with the online format, it is important to value the input of all team members and ensure that they are proud of the final product.
  • Attends Board Meetings and Membership meetings.

Administration – May 2018

President’s Letter: Ready for Spring

by Michele Worden

Really – I am ready for spring.  Any minute now!  While I write this there is 2 ft of snow on the ground starting to melt in the sunshine.  It is disconcerting to walk in the woods full of snow, and hear so much bird song, when there is nothing for the birds to eat.   Remember to put out high protein food to get our birds through any cold snap.

The extended winter has really been crazy.  We had to cancel our April member meeting and the talk on herbs with Julie Krist due to Winter Storm Wilbur.  We also had to cancel our April board meeting for the same reason.  At the moment it is uncertain whether the herbs talk can be rescheduled this year.  We will keep the topic on the list for next year though!

Our May 1 meeting will need to be relocated also due to April weather. The Grand Traverse Conservation District Seedling Sale takes precedence in our meeting room at the Boardman River Nature Center.  Due to the cold weather the Seedling Sale has been delayed a few weeks. The growers cannot harvest the seedlings from the frozen ground. This means there will be seedlings in the BRNC meeting room on May 1st and the room will be unavailable.   We will be meeting at the Leelanau Government Center.

Meanwhile, some recent organization highlights include:

    • We visited the first night of the MG Training class on March 8 and signed up some new members.
    • MGANM participated in the Earth Day celebration on April 22nd at Twin Lakes park and had a terrific turnout for our living necklace project.
    • We are looking forward to the MMGA leadership conference on May 5th in Mt. Pleasant.  
    • The board voted to become a Trillium level sponsor of MG College and will fund another scholarship to the conference this year for leadership development.  Please consider applying!
    • MGANM will also be a sponsor of the Friendly Garden Club Walk this year.

We have increased our marketing efforts over the last two years and this has helped to attract new members and to strengthen community relations.  Every dollar invested in marketing has been a good investment. But we also need to plan well. On the horizon, please be on the lookout for a planning survey from MGANM.  Your prompt response will be essential to help us plan and grow stronger. The more responses we get, the better the data for planning.

Don’t forget to wear your logowear!  Help spread the word about the impact Master Gardeners have in the community by wearing your logowear.  Logowear can be purchased at the Oakland county website

Thanks for all you do!

Administration – March 2018

Contents (Click on a title or scroll)

President’s Letter: Impatient for Spring

Master Gardener Coordinator’s Corner: Finding Master Gardener Projects in your area this spring

Benzie Lighthouse

President’s Letter: Impatient for Spring

by Michele Worden, Advanced Extension Master Gardener

The days get longer, and the extra light is intoxicating.  Every time there is a thaw it feels like spring is right around the corner.  Then it gets cold and snows again; winter descends.  But spring will not be denied.   Are you ready for some plant talk?

Upcoming programs.  We have two programs coming in March that talk about types of plants for your garden.  These programs encompass two ends of a spectrum in garden design.  

On March 6th, our own Cheryl Gross will talk about how to design your garden with native plants.  Native plants have so many benefits.  They promote wildlife, support pollinators and, when established, need less water and human support to thrive.  They also provide a harmonious connection to the fields and forests that surround them.  They are the best choice for a sustainable garden that supports out ecosystem.

On March 14th, we will again host Heidi Grasman from Garden Crossings, a Proven Winners™ grower.  This is a joint event with the Botanic Garden at their Visitor Center.  Heidi will present the latest cultivars of our favorite garden plants that she has been helping to develop.  These will be plants with showy flowers, new leaf colors, better drought hardiness or new forms (e.g. compact or tall).  Getting the next best version of a plant is a time-tested garden obsession.  Proven Winners™ plants have been bred for Michigan climates.  They are bred to be more resilient, need less water and to be more disease resistant.  In short, to be both beautiful and novel and to take fewer inputs than other plants – less water, pesticides and fungicides.  If you just must have the latest and greatest, these are plants that have a smaller footprint on the environment.  

We will also have a fabulous program on April 3rd about herbs by member Julie Krist.  I don’t know anyone who knows more about growing herbs, or cooks with them so well, as Julie.  She is the founder of our local herb group as well as past officer of Michigan Herb Associates – which has a fabulous conference each year.  Enjoy!

Planning survey on the horizon.  Finally, MGANM has grown much in the past two years.  We want to make sure we continue to grow in the right ways in the future – and meet our members’ needs.  Please be on the lookout for a survey from the board in the coming months as part of our strategic planning process.  We appreciate your time in completing it – and helping us meet your needs in the future.   MMGA is undergoing a similar process so you may see a survey from them also.  Be thinking also about what programs you would like to see next year.  It is not too early to be thinking about 2019!  Send program ideas to

Wear your logowear!  Help spread the word about the impact Master Gardeners have in the community by wearing your logowear.  Logowear can be purchased at the Oakland county website

Thanks for all you do!


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!

Administration – January 2018

Contents (Click on a title or scroll)

President’s Letter: Snow Covered Slumber

MMGA Welcome Letter

Celebrating in Style

President’s Letter: Snow Covered Slumber

by Michele Worden, Advanced Master Gardener, MGANM President

As I write this, the snow is falling so heavily that my dog was completely coated in a few moments when I let him outside.  I can watch it accumulate with the naked eye.  The temperature is dropping, and lake effect snow is making us homebound and humble.  Winter is here.  Time to light the fire, make some hot chocolate and read gardening books.  Time to hibernate.

This is a good time to reflect on all we have accomplished this year.   I am grateful to see all the wonderful and impactful work Master Gardeners have done to support their communities.  I am so happy that we have a new coordinator in Nate Walton to support us.  I am appreciative of the MGANM board that has worked so hard for the past two years, and very thankful for the incoming board members Peg Burman, Sue Newman and Whitney Miller.  And please say thanks to Cheryl Gross when you see her for serving as Vice President for the past two years.  But don’t worry, she is not going away.  Cheryl will continue to serve as the editor of The Real Dirt.  (We still have an open Director position on the board.  Email if you are interested in serving.)  

In addition, I am grateful to Ruth Steele-Walker and the board of the Michigan Master Gardener Association for walking us through the convoluted affiliation process.   You can see a welcome letter and more information in this newsletter from Ruth.  Last, I am very, very grateful to the volunteers who threw such a great party at the Volunteer Recognition Luncheon!  Good food, good company and great prizes – both silent auction and door prizes!  And the decorations were fabulous Evelyn!

This is a good time to map our future.  There are changes on the horizon in 2018.  MSU Extension is increasing the Master Gardener volunteer and education hour requirements raising our certification requirements to be consistent with other states.   The Michigan Master Gardener Association will also be undergoing a strategic planning process this year.  What input would you like to give them?  What are your concerns and issues as Master Gardeners?  Who are we as diverse individuals of this group called MGANM?  How can MGANM best meet your needs?  How can we grow and thrive?  In 2018, we will be asking you these, and other questions.  If you have a burning question you would like to ask, please email it

Marketing is important for impact.  I know I have mentioned this before, but it’s worth mentioning again.  We are hoping to improve Master Gardener visibility in the community by having everyone wear logo wear when they volunteer.  Being visible means the public feels comfortable asking you questions (helps outreach), positively influences county governments that fund the MSUE MG program, and helps attract new trainees to the program by showing that we exist.  You are our best advertising!

Logo wear can be purchased at the Oakland county website  MGANM also has organized a one-size fits all cobbler apron order.  We will have the ordering information at the January meeting.  We need a minimum of 20 to order and they must be prepaid.  The aprons go over the head with side ties and have handy pockets, with both MGANM and MSUE Master Gardener Volunteer logos.  If you are interested in ordering, please contact us at

Stay warm; and enjoy a happy and healthy new year.

MMGA Welcome Letter

Dear Members of the Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan,

On behalf of the board of directors of the Michigan Master Gardener Association, I’d like to welcome the entire chapter to the MMGA. We’re delighted that MGANM members have chosen to become an affiliate chapter!

For those of you who don’t know the MMGA history, our organization was created in 2012 to assist Master Gardeners around the state.  MMGA exists to provide a collective voice for Master Gardeners as we work collaboratively with Michigan State University to help us further the Master Gardener goal of educating others and to provide the peace of mind that comes with having liability insurance to cover any accidental injury you do to others while working at a Master Gardener project site or when giving advice.

We look forward to having MGANM as one of our affiliate chapters as we head into 2018.  Thank you for joining the MMGA.  Together we can continue to beautify our lovely state through volunteering and education.




Ruth Steele Walker

President, Michigan Master Gardener Association

Celebrating in Style

Michele Worden, Advanced Master Gardener, MGANM President

On November 5th we had record turnout at the Master Gardener Volunteer Recognition luncheon and the crowd was not disappointed.  The decorations were superb.  Twinkling light strings lent a festive air.  A stunning table was set with bronze chargers and garlands sprinkled with walnuts and leaves.  The table theme was native plants and several made lovely centerpieces.  As always Eveyln Laman’s decorations create a party!

For the shopper there was a great selection.  Denise Brown from the Oakland County society brought an enormous amount of logo wear as well as other fun logo items to purchase.  My favorite was the water proof garden journal.  She had fleece jackets and vests, all styles of shirts, totes, water bottles – you name it.  Their store is online also.

We also had an amazing selection of items for the silent auction – everything from a Yen Yoga basket to a tour and tasting at the Grand Traverse Distillery plus succulent pots created by Master Gardeners and more.  There was furious bidding and many happy customers.  We raised over a thousand dollars for the scholarship fund from the silent auction.  Many thanks to Lori Piggot for organizing this!

Before we settled down to listen to Duke and Nate talk about climate change and insects, we enjoyed a delicious lunch.  Samuel, the chef from 9 bean Rows, did a great job.  Everyone raved about the food.  We enjoyed a rolled chicken dish with mushrooms, a harvest pasta dish, roasted vegetables in balsamic glaze, and a new greens salad from their hoop house.  But the dessert as to die for – pumpkin cheesecake drizzled with caramel and sprinkled with candied walnuts and pomegranate seeds.  

Of course, the highlight of the event was honoring our Master Gardener friends for their service.  Welcome new trainees!  And thank you all for your dedication and service to our communities!  Pictures of everything can be found on our Facebook page

Administration – May 2017

Sunshine and Daffodils: President’s Letter

Michele Worden, Advanced Master Gardener, MGANM President

Daffodils of all sizes and colors are blooming in my garden, steps from my door.  In the woods, I see Dutchman’s Breeches, Hepatica, Spring Beauty – the first wave of spring ephemerals.  There are shades of green all around as the earth awakens and plants grow.

April 29th MMGA Leadership conference

The Michigan Master Gardener Association is busy growing too.  On April 29th they will hold their first Leadership Conference for chapter officers –  to share best practices, emerging topics, and foster leadership development of chapters.  Glynis Waycaster, MGANM Treasurer, and I will be attending, even though our member status in MMGA is still in process.  In the morning, Mary Wilson, MSUE state-wide MG coordinator, and I will be presenting what we have learned in our local attempt to create an endowment for a scholarship for the MG Training Class.  We will be working with the new Development staff person MSU Extension is hiring to make that happen.  In the afternoon session, I am also sharing a case study on what we have been doing in MGANM for marketing and fundraising over the last year. 

Dicentra cucullaria, Dutchman’s Breeches. Photo by MG Michele Worden

2017 Master Garden College June 23 & 24  ‘From the Ground Up’

Master Gardener College is full of educational opportunities, fellow plant nerds, and product giveaways.  It is so much fun it keeps me coming back. 

The two keynote speakers look great – Janet Draper,  Smithsonian Institution Horticulturist at the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden speaking on ‘Plants, Passion, and Perseverance’, and Dan Herms, Entomology Specialist at The Ohio State University Speaking on ‘Climate Change and the Effects on Insect Pests’

This is the first year the conference has sought sponsors to keep the costs down and make the conference accessible to all Master Gardeners.  We are excited to announce that green industry leader Osmocote has joined us as the presenting sponsor.   Michigan Master Gardner Association is also a top sponsor, which highlights their dedication to continuing education of Master Gardeners.

This year there are three local $250 conference registration fee scholarships for northern Michigan Master Gardeners to attend Master Gardener College.  MGANM is sponsoring one and Brian Zimmerman and Four Season Nursery if funding one.  The Botanic Garden is sponsoring one for their Master Gardener volunteers.  The purpose of these scholarships is to share information from the College back to our area.  Knowledge spreads outward in a ripple effect….MSUE also has some funds available for travel scholarships (mileage reimbursement).  Please see later in the newsletter for information on how to apply.  Hope to see you there!

Our next board meeting is May 4.  We would love to see some new faces with ideas for 2018 programming.  There is always an open seat at the table!   Also, I think there may be a few spots left for the Succulent workshop on June 6th.  Please call Breeze Hill Nursery and reserve your space.  See you soon.

Thanks for all you do!

Administration – January 2017

President’s Letter:The Coming of the Sun AND Tentative MGANM Schedule

by Michele Worden, Advanced Master Gardener, MGANM President

It is 7 degrees outside and the garden slumbers under a blanket of white as I write.   The Winter Solstice approaches but by the time you read this letter,  it will be past, and the days will already be getting longer in anticipation of spring.

Looking back, we had a marvelous year in the Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan.  We celebrated our first 20 years at the Anniversary Party on August 2nd.  We also enjoyed a wonderful luncheon at the November 6th Volunteer Recognition Luncheon.  Duke Elsner gave a interesting presentation on Monarchs; I am still amazed by the resilience of these beautiful creatures.  Duke also announced he is part of a new state-wide committee on pollinators, a positive innovation.  The Volunteer Recognition Luncheon Silent Auction raised $578 for scholarships for the spring Master Gardener class through donations and hand-crafted auction items.  Master Gardeners are a talented and generous bunch!

We also remember the beloved Master Gardener colleagues we lost this year, Shirley Bowen and Rick George.

Looking forward to 2017, based upon our unanimous vote this past fall. we will be making a formal application to join the Michigan Master Gardener Association.

We also look forward to fun and educational programs and field trips in 2017.  Information on the events will be posted on the MGANM website and will be also on our Facebook page  and in community calendars.  We hope to put up posters around town to bring some of the public to our meetings as well.  All of our programs are open to the public.  As a reminder, MGANM meetings are a perfect way to earn both education and volunteer hours.  You earn 1.5 hrs for both education and volunteering by attending.

A  preview of what is in store: 

Februrary  7 – Michelle Ferrasese will present “Smart Gardening – plants and practices for sustainable gardening”

March 7  – Proven Winners will come to Traverse City and tell us “What is hot in 2017?”  This will be a joint event with the Botanic Garden Society at the Visitor Center.  Tentative.

April 4 – Wild Harvesting, Speaker TBD

June 6 – Succulent project at Breeze Hill.   This is a Master Gardener field trip and a fee is required.  Space is limited and reservation is secured with your check.  The fee covers materials for the project you will create as you propagate succulents.  Choices will include a wreath, terrariums, etc.

July 11 – Tour and Tasting at Light if Day Tea Farm with Angela Macke.  Tour the only camellia sinensis (tea plants) grown under hoop houses, on an organic and biodynamic farm.  This is a Master Gardener field trip, there is limited in space and a fee will be required.  It will be partially underwritten by MGANM a partially by attendees.  The cost will be a significant reduction in price from public tour rates.

August 1 – Rebecca Finneran presents “Smart Plants for Pollinators”.

October 3 – Brian Zimmerman of Four Season Nursery presents “Plants Deer Don’t Eat”

Please like MGANM on Facebook to keep current with events and news, as well as check the website.  Events and information are posted in a timely fashion on Facebook because it is so fast to easy.  Check there in case if inclement weather or last minutes changes in events.

Thank you for all you do.  Keep dreaming of spring! 

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