Serve – January 2017

Contents (Click on a title or scroll)

In Memoriam‚ÄĒJohn Richard George (aka Rick)

2016 Volunteer Recognition Awards: Volunteers are the Heart and Soul of the Master Gardener Program

MGANM Anniversary: 20 Years Young

MG Rick George pauses for a smile :) 2009

MG Rick George pauses for a smile ūüôā 2009

In Memoriam‚ÄĒJohn Richard George (aka Rick)

by Terry Harding, Community Master Gardener

What can I say about my brother that you already don’t know!  You know he loved growing veggies and sharing his harvest with friends and food pantries.  But, he was much more than that.

Rick and wife Sally were long-time residents of Royal Oak, MI.  They met in high school and married celebrating their 50th a few years ago.  They had 3 kids, sons Greg and Todd and 1 daughter Tracy.  All kids married and 3 grown grandsons love coming to TC for fishing and to visit their family. Rick worked at several places but retired from General Motors and moved to TC with his wife, Sally. 

One of the first things he wanted to do was have a garden and so he did.¬† He took the MG training with encouragement from my husband, Bill and myself and became a dedicated Master Gardener, and Advanced Master Gardener earning Master Gardener of the year award‚ÄĒsomething that was a huge thrill for him.

He made a life friend in Mike Davis through working the community garden in Leelanau.¬† They were kindred spirits and Rick idolized Mike as they both spent countless hours at the garden.¬† When that garden ‚Äúdied‚ÄĚ from lack of interest, Mike started a small Master Gardener Demonstration Garden at the Historic Barns Park as part of the SEEDS program.¬† He and Rick made raised beds, brought in compost, planted and maintained those beds until Mike and his wife had to move back to Ohio.

Always an outdoors person, Rick loved duck hunting, tying flies for fishing, spending time at their camp around Glennie, Michigan, raising rabbits, and just being able to enjoy the sunshine and water.¬† He spent hours reading about gardening and probably has one of the finest personal libraries on growing vegetables‚ÄĒespecially tomatoes.¬† He and I attended several Dow Know and Grow seminars in Midland taking in the opportunity to hear nationally known speakers on the subject of gardening.¬† Aside from being a member of the Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan and maintaining his certification hours, he was also a member of Cherryland Garden Club, a small group of gardeners (meets the second Tuesday of the month in the evening), who had monthly speakers on a variety of gardening subjects.

I am going to miss him terribly especially when I need help at the Harding Memorial Garden at Peninsula Community Library.  He was always ready and willing to spend hours helping me with weeding, pruning and transplanting. I will also miss his teasing me about growing flowers and not veggies.   But . . . I know he is in veggie garden heaven now where he doesn’t have to worry about enough rain to water plants, frost killing his newly planted plants or weeding or spreading compost or any countless other tasks.  He will be enjoying the endless sunshine watching his garden grow.

2016's decorations

2016’s decorations

2016 Volunteer Recognition Awards: Volunteers are the Heart and Soul of the Master Gardener Program

by Michelle Ferrarese, Master Gardener Coordinator

November 6, 2016.¬† Gilbert Lodge, Twin Lakes Park, Grand Traverse County: A group of nearly 50 Extension Master Gardeners and guests convened for the annual Master Gardener Volunteer Recognition Luncheon.¬† The weather was gorgeous; in hindsight, it could almost have been an outdoor event!¬† Amor Comida provided a delicious lunch of spiced squash soup, salad, and pie, with seasonal ingredients sourced from local producers.¬† Dr. Duke Elsner, MSU Extension Educator, presented a talk on ‚ÄúPlantings for Monarchs and Wild Pollinators‚ÄĚ that was enthusiastically followed with questions and answers.¬†

MGANM volunteers decked the tables and the hall in lush fall-themed and monarch-themed décor, staffed the check-in table, and orchestrated a silent auction to raise funds for scholarships to the MG training course.

After Dr. Elsner’s presentation, Master Gardener Coordinator Michelle Ferrarese presented achievement awards to EMG Volunteers.  We had a GREAT showing of volunteer hours this year, particularly for a year during which Master Gardeners had no coordinator for half the year! 

Michele Worden coordinated a successful Silent Auction this year, which raised toward the scholarship fund for tuition assistance for the MG Training Course.  Thanks so much to everyone who contributed auction items and also those who bid on items!

Denise Brown (EMG merchandise vendor from Oakland County) set up her display of wares: t-shirts, hats, water bottles, etc, and outfitted many of our volunteers with logo wear!

Recognition went to the following Volunteers:

Newly Certified Volunteers (Trainees who completed 40 volunteer hours):

Bruce Barnes, Kristen Beck, Maryann Borden, Kathryn Danielson Rizik, Tricia Early, Pam Filkins, Kathryn Frerichs, Kay Goodall, Kathy Marciniak, Laura McCain, Chris Newell, Jane Schnack, Kathy Spinniken, Steve Stephens, Bethany Thies

Advanced Master Gardener Volunteers (EMGs who completed 50 volunteer hours AND 25 continuing education hours within five years of initial certification):

Nancy Denison, JoAnne Gerben

Lifetime Service Awards:

250 Hours:

Elizabeth Clous, Kristine Drake, Candy Gardner,Rebecca Mang

500 Hours:

Kelly Dillan, Lin Emmert, Cheryl Gross, Gary Michalek, Whitney Miller, Ruth Steele Walker, Susan Newman

1000 Hours:

Trina Ball, Janet Hickman

2000 Hours:

Ann McInnis

Master Gardeners of the Year

Grand Traverse County:  Michele Worden

Benzie County:  Steve Stephens

Leelanau County: Ruth Steele Walker

After the Volunteer Recognition, MGANM President Michele Worden presented her State of the Association update and conducted annual officer elections.  Officers were elected as follows: President:  Michele Worden (2 year term)  Vice President: Cheryl Gross (1 year term)  Treasurer:  Glynis Waycaster (? tear term)  Secretary: Judy Reich (? year term)

Award recipients AND door prize winners went home with potted pollinator-friendly perennials, gift certificates, and seed packets of annuals to plant for pollinators next season.  Thanks again to all the volunteers (and Annette Kleinschmit!) who made this possible, from the planning meetings to auction organizing to the set-up and tear-down/clean-up.

20th Anniversary Celebration

20th Anniversary Celebration

MGANM Anniversary: 20 Years Young

by Michele Worden, Advanced Master Gardener, MGANM President

It is hard to believe that the Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan was 20 years old in 2016.  There is youth and vigor in this inspiring group of volunteers.  To celebrate the occasion, we held a 20th Anniversary party at the Boardman River Nature Center in Traverse City on August 2nd.   

There was a large turnout of friends, old and new.   The room was packed!   It was a bit like a family reunion.  We presented a fun video for the celebration from pictures of past and present projects and friends.   We also created a t-shirt celebrating our 20th Anniversary that members could order. 

Hearty appetizers were served in the reception before the presentations.  We started the evening with a brief introduction by the MG Coordinator and Michelle Ferrarese and myself, the board president.  I made a presentation with Marsha Clark, Executive Director of the Grand Traverse Conservation District on the history and design of the native plant gardens that surround the nature center.  Whitney Miller, Master Gardener, and Nate Griswold of Inhabitect gave a presentation on the value of green roofs in our communities and the construction of the green roof demonstration project at the nature center. 

The demonstration gardens, maintained by Master Gardeners  further our mission by educating the public about landscape sustainability and watershed stewardship.   It was a beautiful summer day, and following the presentations we took a tour of the gardens, ending up at the decorated pavilion where the buffet dinner was ready.  This path also cleverly strolled by our silent auction table which had fun items and memorabilia.

Attendees were served a delicious and tangy pulled pork with several sides such as apple baked beans, a Master Gardeners special recipe.¬† The meal was underwritten by our sponsors and community partners.¬† We were so thankful that MSUE bought a cake with which to celebrate, and the Michigan Master Gardener Association supplied the ice cream.¬† As a special treat we sourced locally grown and produced lavender ice cream ‚Äď it was to die for! ¬† We were also happy to have raised enough funds with the silent auction for our new leadership scholarship ‚Äď sending a Master Gardener to Master Gardener College. ¬† We look forward to our next 20 years and becoming part of MMGA in 2017.


Serve – November 2016

Gardening Activity for Kids

by Cheryl Gross, Advanced Master Gardener, Vice President MGANM, President Plant It Wild

While I have three grown children, activities for children do not come easily to me.¬† Also, I am not the ‚Äėcrafty‚Äô type.¬† Yet in late summer, there I was having a blast with a seed germination activity at our neighborhood block party.

Wanting to pitch-in and help the host, I contacted Lillian Mahaney, a Master Gardener colleague and Jr Master Gardener teacher, for help.¬† In no time at all Lil connected me to a ‚Äėliving necklace‚Äô activity.¬† Beginning two weeks ahead of the event, I began a seed each day (one week is ample).¬† It was great fun to check on my seed each day.¬† By the day of the event, there were three plants in small pots, three plants in small Dixie cups, and four or five still in small plastic bags where the children and adults could see the germination process.

About a third of the children in attendance participated along with two moms.  One mom asked several questions and took the idea to use in her classroom!  It was well worth my effort to pull it all together.  I appreciate that is was a quieter, almost one-on-one activity amid all of the running, throwing and water balloons.  It was craft-like with an educational component AND it was suitable for all ages.  The success of the activity was entirely based on the benefits of connecting with other Master Gardeners in our community!

Living Necklace


Any seed for garden planting (Some use large bean seeds.  I used sugar snap peas because the shoots have a nice edible taste.)

Cotton pads, such as those used for makeup removal

Plastic zip seal bags, roughly 2‚ÄĚ x 3‚ÄĚ

Narrow ribbon


Hole punch


Wet two cotton pads with water and wring out.

Place a pea or other seed in the center on one pad and cover with the other.

Slide into the plastic bag.

Punch a hole in the top of the bag, beneath the zipper.  Cut a length of ribbon to tie the bag around the neck of the child.

Discuss the germination process… embryo, root, stem and such.

Note: Use caution with the ribbon around the neck (choking hazard).  I had parents available to inform.  If children did not want the necklace, they did not get a ribbon.  The benefit of the necklace is faster germination due to contact with body heat.  The peas in my test did just fine germinating on a ledge in my house.

Serve – Sep ’16

Master Gardener College 2016

Whitney Miller, Advanced Master Gardener

This spring, I saw numerous emails about Master Gardener College and the Extraordinary Project Search (EPS). After some cajoling from a few fellow Master Gardeners, I decided to submit the All Native Green Roof Project for the EPS. While I really wanted to attend the conference, I could only afford one day. Thankfully, the MGANM Board offered to sponsor my attendance for the second day.  Further, the Board has now established an annual scholarship to send one MGANM member to the conference each year. An amazing gift for members from a most supportive Board. What follows is just a snippet of what I experienced at the 2016 event.

Grand Ideas Shade Garden: Kent County MSUE

Grand Ideas Shade Garden: Kent County MSUE

Friday: Tour day

Attendees had a choice of four different tours. I attended a tour of native plants. We began the day with a quick talk about native plants and the benefits they provide. Natives have evolved with our soils/moisture/temperatures etc and have withstood the sands of time, thus reducing the need for fertilizers, water, and the like. We were shown some photographs of some of the more uncommon native plants, and were promised to see some of them later in the day.

Our first stop was the D. A. Blodgett Children’s Home. The home provides services for children ages 6-12 and sits on a small lot. The design of the gardens is remarkable. The garden pulls you in to wander the path and touch and smell things; just what a child needs. There were over 70 native species planted in just 1/4 of an acre, with a few annuals to dress things up a bit around their fountain.

Prairie Habitat at Marywood, photo by AMG W. Miller

Prairie Habitat at Marywood, photo by AMG W. Miller

Our second stop was the Prairie Habitat at Marywood. It is ‚ÄúAn eco-justice initiative of the Dominican Sisters Grand Rapids‚ÄĚ. This habitat is an entire acre of native plants, and is planted in sort of an ‚ÄúL‚ÄĚ shape at the front of the Marywood Campus. From the street, it didn‚Äôt look like much. But as you got closer, the enormity of this project is overwhelming. This prairie planting is HUGE! As you walk along the natural edge of the garden, your eye is drawn to individual plants that are in bloom and give pops of color. Those colors entice you to keep following along, almost like a ‚Äúyellow brick road‚ÄĚ. In an effort to track the successes of their efforts, they count their species every year. In 2015, 127 different native plant species were counted.

Directly across the street from the Prairie Habitat was a private home who agreed to be a part of the tour. The garden had a sense of ‚Äúeverything in its place‚ÄĚ yet wasn‚Äôt formal or stuffy. Many plants had been allowed to ‚Äėwander‚Äô and are kept in check by a very attentive homeowner. My favorite part about this home is their green roof! It was planted with sedums and looked beautiful and bright and green.


Green Roof in Grand Rapids, MI

Of course, I just had to ask about the roof: had they considered natives? did they have problems with the sedums spreading? The homeowner shared my enthusiasm for wanting native plants on the roof, but her reality was the same as most: she was not comfortable getting on the roof in order to tend to the plants. Sedums were a sure-fire way to get greenery for a long period of time and practically have zero maintenance. As for the sedums spreading, they have not experienced any more troubles than any other plant. They did note that there were three birds that just loved to play on the roof, carry off pieces of sedum, and drop them in one particular place in the yard. She let them do it and would simply pick up the pieces once a week or so to prevent them from growing.

Throughout the remainder of the day, we visited several more private homes boasting all stages of native gardens. My major take-aways from the day included:

  • learned new plants
  • stronger confidence in plant identification of those I have worked with previously
  • any garden, no matter how large or small, can host a multitude of native plants
  • the more diverse the native plantings, the more diverse the nature that visits. (The D.A. Blodgett location had numerous birds that are not often sighted in the city)
Become an entomophagist, eat bugs!

Become an entomophagist, eat bugs!

Saturday: Educational Day 

Saturday consisted of multiple one hour educational opportunities spread throughout the day with socialization time in between. Once again, there was an overwhelming amount of quality information, so I will try to be succinct in my summarizations.

In between the educational talks, MGs were encouraged to read the poster submissions  for the Extraordinary Master Gardener Project, and vote for their favorite. I submitted the All Native Green Roof Project, and it won Honorable Mention.

My favorite social activity table was the EDIBLE BUG STOP. Kent County Master Gardeners have a new coordinator, Abi Saaid, and she models herself a modern day Mrs. Frizzle. Abi absolutely LOVES bugs, and encouraged us to become an Entomophagist: someone who eats bugs! There were flavored mealworms, granola bars, and even flour made with insects. The treats were actually pretty tasty-you should try them!


Video courtesy of Invasive Species Network and Katie Greziak

Topic: Bees 

There are over 450 species of bee in Michigan. The easiest way to identify a bee versus a wasp is in the way they hold their wings. Bees hold their wings folded on their back and wasps/flies hold them like airplane wings, though there are always exceptions to the rule. Bees also raise their young on pollen/nectar, while wasps raise their young on animal/insect matter.

While we all know the basics for supporting these, and other pollinators, floral constancy seemed to be a repetitive topic. Floral constancy is the usage of more than just one plant here and there in a garden: pollinators need groups of identical plants to truly be attracted to a space. For example, would you visit a grocery store that has one apple, or a grocery store that has multiple apples in multiple groups in order to select the best?

In the absence of natural deadfall, bee hotels can be a good source for nesting. The tubes do not always need to be cleaned out, as the bees will often take care of that themselves. However, most species of bee overwinter in the ground, thus making the bee hotel effective for some, but not all. If you wish to have different species of bees in your area, bare/non mulched spots are quite attractive to these ground nesters.

[GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Sphinx Moth Pollinator at English Wikipedia

Topic: Butterflies by Dr. Whitney Cranshaw

If you wish to attract butterflies to your garden area, you will need to ensure that there are food supplies for both the adult butterflies as well as their larvae. Adult butterflies can feed on tree sap, fruits, mud puddles, feces, and even fluids from dead animals as well as flower blossoms. Larvae may have more specific needs, such as Monarch larvae requiring milkweed. 

We often appreciate the beauty of the adult butterfly. Oftentimes the larva are overlooked or thought to be nuisances. For instance, sphinx moths¬†have mesmerizing flight, but their larva is the tomato hornworm: something often plucked, squished, or thrown out of a garden. Perhaps considering a ‚Äúsacrifice‚ÄĚ tomato plant (or two) for these larva will allow for a balanced relationship in your garden.

Dr. Cranshaw spoke about using butterfly houses in gardens. While many gardeners love the thought of providing shelter for butterflies, the evidence is dubious whether these actually work. The best way to provide shelter is through landscaping: leave those mud puddles or fallen limbs in your garden and the butterflies will be happy.

By Amada44 - Own work, CC BY 4.0,

By Amada44 – Own work, CC BY 4.0,

Topic: Diagnostics by Dr. Whitney Cranshaw

Dr. Cranshaw spoke in depth about how to diagnose plant problems by focusing on the insects. For the purposes of this lecture, Dr. Cranshaw spoke about what the insects leave behind. I have attempted to break down the lecture into discernible sections.

What did the insect leave behind?


Insects use silk to cover pupae, as shelter, or to protect eggs

Most common insect that produces silk is caterpillar (silk worm, tent caterpillar)

To differentiate insect silk from spider silk, spider silk is much tougher and thicker


Scale insects use wax to cover their back

Mealy bugs use wax to cover their body and to create egg sacs

While aphids to not typically produce noticeable wax, many are covered with wax on their bodies. Some also secrete wax threads.


Insect scat (feces) varies based on how they feed, what they eat, and where they feed.


Comes from Hemiptera insects with piercing/sucking mouthparts

These insects eat liquids (phloem) and excrete it in the form of honeydew

Often thought of as sap when it drips off of a tree

Sooty molds are a fungi that grow on honeydew contaminated surfaces. It looks black and grows wherever honeydew lands. This mold is often thought to be the problem on a plant, so make sure to always inspect the entire plant.

Tar Spots

Insects that produce tar spots feed on mesophyll-individual cells of plants

Symptom of injury is flecking wounds or white spots on top of the leaf.


Frass is a waste product by insects with chewing mouth parts

It is solid in nature

Tomato hornworms and many other caterpillars leave behind frass

Paul Zammit container, photo from Toronto Botanical Garden

Topic: Containers by Paul Zammit 

I found Mr. Zammits’ presentation to be invigorating. He is a very energetic speaker and is all over the stage. This topic is a weak point for me personally, but I feel with his guidance I could potentially create something nice enough for Grandma’s table. Here are his tips for creating beautiful displays using containers.

1. Love the container. Make the investment. Plastic doesn’t live very long and just ends up in the landfill.

2. Do not use topsoil. It settles. Stay away from ‚Äúmoisture products‚ÄĚ as they keep things too wet.

3. Fertilize.

4. Stagger containers but have some repetition. Using some plants in all of your containers ties them together

5. Accessorize. Use the things you already own as art. You‚Äôll fall in love with your ‚Äėthings‚Äô all over again.

6. Create the design for the space. Don’t buy the container then try to find somewhere to put it. (Though he admits he is guilty of the latter)

Design: If you have the three basics, you have a great container: thrillers, fillers, and spillers

  • Once you have the basics, consider adding height, drama, fragrance, color, and texture.
  • Echo colors from around your yard
  • Use plants as ribbons. For instance, sweet potato vine can be wound UP the height of the container rather than just trailing
  • Mix your media just like your garden: annuals, perennials, herbs, shrubs, etc
  • Parsley is a great filler. you can plant it on its side so it droops
  • Consider the underside of leaves to enhance color or textures

Winter containers

  • Use sand or composted manure
  • Do NOT use green ‚Äėoasis‚Äô products. They will freeze
  • Make your winter containers exceptionally dense

Overwintering empty containers

If you have terra cotta pots, you CAN leave them outside. He has done this in Toronto for years. Prop the containers about one inch above the ground, upside down. If you have large terra cotta pots, you can tip them slightly on their tops.

Do not leave ceramic containers outside unless you wish to have ceramic pieces for your next year’s garden.

At the end of the two days, I had had more fun than I ever would have expected from a conference, and I had learned so much that I felt like my brain might explode. It was two days of networking, listening to inspiring keynote speakers, and some fascinating tours. I HIGHLY recommend attending Master Gardener College to all Master Gardeners

Serve – July 2016


New MG Coordinator Michelle Ferrarese and MG Volunteer Kay manning the booth at the Suttons Bay Senior Expo on June 21, 2016

New MG Coordinator Michelle Ferrarese and MG Volunteer Kay manning the booth at the Suttons Bay Senior Expo on June 21, 2016

Introducing the NEW Master Gardener Coordinator!….Michelle Ferrarese

I grew up in Michigan surrounded by plants. I spent many childhood summers camping, hiking, and exploring the wild ecosystems and various plant communities of the Great Lakes region, as well as grazing in the family garden. I received my BS in Botany from University of Michigan and my MS in Horticulture from MSU (yes, I’m a double agent!).¬† I worked for over 10 years in the field of outdoor and environmental education in Michigan, California, New Mexico, and Massachusetts.¬† I have 14 years of vegetable, flower, and herb farming experience, the past eight of which have been here in Leelanau county at Birch Point Farm.¬† I had the good fortune to manage the MSU Student Organic Farm for the first three years of its existence, where I first forged connections with the MSU and MSUE communities.¬† I was a Washtenaw County Master Composter, have managed various children’s gardens, managed volunteers, and consulted and built hoophouses for production and for education.¬† I teach an MSU course at the University Center at NMC called Principles and Practices of Organic Agriculture.¬† I served on the planning committee for the Northern MI Small Farm Conference for many years, and I also serve on the board of directors of Crosshatch Center for Art and Ecology (formerly ISLAND). ¬† I look forward to serving the gardeners and the garden-curious people of Leelanau county and beyond. I hope to reach out to as many diverse populations as possible in our region to get more hands in the dirt every season!¬† Please stop in with any plant or garden questions at our Leelanau county office at the Government Center in Suttons Bay.

Serve – May 2016

Contents (Click on a title or scroll)

Master Gardener Volunteering Opportunities

Elk Rapids Garden Club

Ellen Ecker Ogdens and the Historic Barns Community Gardens

Suttons Bay Rain Gardens

Native plant flats offered at the spring plant sale hosted by the Grand Traverse Conservation District.

Native plant flats offered at the spring plant sale hosted by the Grand Traverse Conservation District.

Master Gardener Volunteering Opportunities

  • Native Garden Work Bee hosted by MGANM,¬†Thursday, May 5 from 9:30am-11:30am at the Boardman River Nature Center.¬† Organizer Tom Vitale can be reached at
  • Preparation/packing for Grand Traverse Conservation District 2016 Native Plant Sale,¬†Friday, May 13¬†from 1-4 and¬†4-6pm at the Boardman River Nature Center.¬†
  • Native Plant Sale,¬†Saturday, May 14,¬†8am-3pm at the Boardman River Nature Center.¬† All volunteers get 10% off of anything they purchase. Contact Tricia Forgrave at if you would like to volunteer for either the event preparation¬†or sale.
  • Food Corp Workers need help in school gardens.¬† Contact Mikaela Taylor, 231-992-7082
  • Suttons Bay Rain Gardens Work Bee, Saturday May 14th, 1:00pm. Contact Lillian Mahaney, 231-256-8844.
  • Additional volunteer opportunities can be found at the MGANM Facebook page. Check it out here and keep up to date with the latest news and events.

Photo by Elk Rapids Garden Club

Elk Rapids Garden Club

by Terry Harding, Master Gardener

Elk Rapids Garden Club is one of the oldest garden clubs in northern Michigan.  It was organized in 1936 making it 85 years old.  This garden club, a member club of Michigan Garden Clubs, Inc., is located in the Central Region Garden Clubs.

Members have meetings at the First Presbyterian Church in Elk Rapids, usually the last Tuesday of the month.  Their general meeting begins at 1pm.  Presently the club has 68 active members, 17 honorary members, 2 associate members and 16 life members.  Dues are $20 annually.

This club has several community projects.  They maintain 10 community gardens as well as bestowing a Village Pride Award for a home owner and one business for their garden skills.  They offer education grants for Horticulture and Environment and participate in National and State Garden Club student contests.  If you have never visited the community gardens in Elk Rapids, you are missing something. 

For more information call Sonja Perry, President, at 231-264-5835 or email her at, and she will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Ellen Ecker Ogden seminar at The Botanic Gardens, April 2016. Photo by The Botanic Gardens

Ellen Ecker Ogden seminar at The Botanic Gardens, April 2016. Photo by The Botanic Gardens

Ellen Ecker Ogdens and the Historic Barns Community Gardens

by Terry Harding, Master Gardener

Saturday, April 23, I attended a Master Gardener event downstate at Oakland Schools, Pontiac.¬† This event was billed as “Gardening and All That Jazz–Adding Pizazz to Your Garden‚ÄĚ and featured three speakers.¬† Karen Bussolini gave a talk on ‚ÄúJazzing Up the Garden with Color, Contrast and Movement‚ÄĚ and a second presentation on ‚ÄúGarden Photography.‚Ä̬† Ellen Ecker Ogden spoke on ‚ÄúThe Art of Growing Food,‚ÄĚ while Barry Glick presented ‚ÄúWoodland Wonders from the Wild.‚Ä̬† Attendance was huge, with 350 present to hear these wonderful speakers.

This conference was extremely well organized with tons of raffle items, an abundance of vendors, incredible snacks and a wonderful boxed lunch.  My reason for traveling to this event was mainly to hear Ellen Ecker Ogdens presentation and to bring her to Traverse City for her to give her presentation at the Botanic Garden on Sunday.  Needless to say, we had a great TC turnout of veggie gardeners interested in designing artful vegetable gardens and Ellen did not fail to deliver.  This event in TC was a prelude to actually planting the donation plot at the Community Gardens section at the Historic Barns Park scheduled to take place Saturday, May 21.  We welcome all who would like to help plant this garden.  Stay tuned for details.

Suttons Bay Rain Gardens at the corner of Broadway and St. Mary’s and the corner of M-22 and Madison

One of the eighteen Suttons Bay Rain Gardens

Suttons Bay Rain Gardens

by Lillian Mahaney, Advanced Master Gardener

In 2003 Suttons Bay revamped their drain systems to stop the outflow from storm drainage outlets and to help eliminate bacteria at their two beaches.  Along with the construction of the underground trenches, 18 rain gardens were created.  These rain gardens treat the runoff by natural absorption rather than directly discharging it into the surface water.  The runoff enters the rain gardens and naturally filters into the ground.  Any excess runoff that is not absorbed during heavy rains flows into the storm drains nestled in the rain gardens.  The underground trenches naturally clean the runoff.

Some of the benefits of planting rain gardens include: 

  • Reducing pollution in our lakes, bays, rivers and streams
  • Recharging the ground water
  • Creating native habitat that attracts butterflies, birds, insects and other wildlife
  • Beautifying the landscape

Each of the 18 rain gardens has been adopted and a spring clean-up work bee is being planned. The adopters of the gardens are very enthusiastic, but just need guidance on the proper way to do the spring clean-up and maintain their garden.

The work bee is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 14.  Any Master Gardeners that would like to assist with the work bee please contact Lillian Mahaney at 231-256-8844 (Leland) for further details. 

Serve – March ’16 Real Dirt

Garden Clubs

Long Lake, Michigan. Photo from

Ma-Me-Ne-Sewong Garden Club

by Carol Morris

The name Ma-Me-Ne-Sewong is derived from a Native American word meaning ¬†‚Äúlake of many islands‚ÄĚ. ¬†The club was formed in 1977 by a group of women who loved to garden and lived, mostly, in the Long Lake area. ¬†Our membership now extends beyond. ¬†Our club belongs to the Michigan Garden Club and the National Garden Club. ¬†We limit membership to 25 active members in order to meet in members‚Äô homes.

One of our group’s first projects was helping to preserve the islands of Long Lake so that they would remain free and open to the public.  We worked tirelessly with Long Lake Township, Long Lake Association, and the Grand Traverse Conservancy to save the islands from development.  Today our crown jewel is South Island.  There you will find trails, plant identification markers and benches under the canopy of trees.  One of our yearly projects is to venture to the island to clean-up litter, debris and downed branches from the trails.

Some other on-going projects involve the creation and maintenance of a Blue Star Memorial Garden at the Grand Traverse Pavilions, planting and maintaining a large garden at the Botanic Gardens at Historic Barns Park and making Christmas wreaths for local schools.

To make sure these projects happen, we have two money-making projects:  Baking cookies for Girls On The Run and the Grand Traverse Parade of Homes.  The fundraising enables us to contribute yearly to local groups such as the Botanic Garden, The Children’s Community Garden, Women’s Resource Center, and the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, among others.

The objectives stated in the by-laws of Ma-Me-Ne-Sewong Garden Club are ‚Äúto stimulate the love of gardening, to encourage home and community beautification and to promote better horticultural preservation.‚ÄĚ ¬†While all of that is true, we are a diverse group of women. ¬†We like to think that we are a small, but mighty, group. ¬†We enjoy camaraderie, gardening, new adventures, and believe in a strong commitment to our community. ¬†And, oh, yes, did we mention we like to have fun?

Helenium autumnale (Sneezeweed). Photo from Grand Traverse Conservation District,

Plant It Wild

by Cheryl Gross, Advanced Master Gardener

Plant It Wild is a Michigan native plant club based in Benzie and Manistee Counties.  It has been an independent club since creation in 2000.  

“The mission of Plant It Wild is to foster greater awareness and

appreciation of the fragile natural environment of our region.  Through

direct efforts we work to preserve, protect, and promote the natural

beauty of the area and its plant communities.‚ÄĚ

Toward this end, Plant It Wild offers educational programs and field trips every May through September, our ‚Äėseason‚Äô. ¬†Programs are held at Trinity Lutheran Church, 955 James Street, Frankfort. ¬†Field Trips can take us from Manistee to Leelanau, Grand Traverse and Wexford and beyond! ¬†Our calendar can be found at

Additionally, we partner with several organizations where our missions align.  We are great friends and supporters of the Benzie Conservation District, the Invasive Species Network, the Watershed Center, the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, the Manistee Conservation District, Saving Birds Thru Habitat, Michigan Shoreline Protection, and other organizations.  

A few Plant It Wild members are also speakers for groups, such as garden clubs, lake associations and other groups wanting to explore Michigan native plants.  We offer a variety of topics related to Michigan native plants, landscaping with Michigan native plants,  plant communities, shoreline protection, rain gardens, etc.  We provide a variety of educational materials on our website, at our meetings and at our speaking engagements.

Much has changed in the world of native plants since the club was formed.  Plant It Wild strives to keep up to date on changes in invasive plants and insects, damaging pesticides, beneficial plants to host butterflies and moths, soil science, and water issues.  In 2000 the club was on the cutting edge.  Today we are well established in our communities and continue to promote awareness of our amazing native plant communities, both beneficial and beautiful.


Join us,  Go Wild, Go Native!

For more information:


Cheryl Gross, President, 231-932-0545

Like us on Facebook

Visit our website  

Serve – November ’15 Real Dirt

The Passion and Challenge of Community Beautification Gardens

By Kim Stevens, MG in Training

I have worked for MSU Extension in Charlevoix County for 24 years. On the job we get many home horticulture questions that I try and field and find answers for the caller. It got me thinking that it might be time for me to become educated to answer some of these questions or at least know where to direct clients. The perfect solution was to take the Master Gardener class.

In August 2014 I enrolled in the Master Gardener class and I am so glad that I took the 13-week course. It has helped me with those home horticulture questions as well as with my personal gardening. Being out of school for many years, it was hard to get back into my study habits, but it was well worth it.

In the Spring 2015 I began to think of how I was going do to get my 40 hours of volunteer time. I have a friend with whom I walk and one day as we walked along the channel in Charlevoix it hit me. The Welcome to Charlevoix sign was overgrown with plants and many weeds.

I approached the City of Charlevoix who gave me the ok to proceed and I started the project.   Working with Madison Ramsey, a Master Gardener trainee, she assisted by sketching a drawing of what to plant in this area and   got to work.   After a day to weed and clean up the area, I was able to begin planting.  

It still needs a lot of work, but it is a start.

Some of the challenges with a Community beautification project is time. While it is important to me that as people approach Charlevoix they see the sign and it is welcoming, I am still working full time so my personal time is limited. Another challenge was getting water to the site and depending on the City of Charlevoix to water.

It is my vision to see color from spring to fall as well as to have plants that are low maintenance. I realize it will take time, even possibly a few years, for things to fill in.¬†¬† Hopefully by choosing annuals in season and then have the perennials maturing, in time it will look like something beautiful and welcoming. I want to keep with the slogan ‚ÄúCharlevoix the Beautiful.‚ÄĚ

It is my plan to contact some of the service clubs named on the Welcome sign for funding to add more plants.

Serve – September ’15 Real Dirt

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, ‚ÄúTechie Chick‚ÄĚ, 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 ‚Äėjournalistic‚Äô 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

Serve – July ’15 Real Dirt

Classroom Worm Chow-Down Initiative

MG Trina Ball (far left) teaching Food Corps workers Lianna and Megan how to build worm bins

MG Trina Ball (far left) teaching Food Corps workers Lianna and Megan how to build worm bins in her own garage

MG Trina Ball and K. Gerbatsch building worm bins at the Suttons Bay science lab

MG Trina Ball and K. Gerbatsch building worm bins at the Suttons Bay science lab

Our worm bin presentation: Sustaining A School Garden workshop. Involved parties: MLUI; TBAISD; MSUE; Food Corps

Our worm bin presentation: Sustaining A School Garden workshop. Involved parties: MLUI; TBAISD; MSUE; Food Corps

By Lillian Mahaney, Advanced Master Gardener

Worms and food scraps equal vermicomposting.  Add a Master Gardener and children and you have education, stewardship, MG volunteering project and fun!

Vermicompost, is the healthy, clean, low-maintenance method of using worms to transform organic waste into a nutrient-rich fertilizer.  Vermicomposting improves the environment, is inexpensive and only takes 2 to 3 months to produce worm casting compost.  The compost has been scientifically proven to be the best known.

Charles Darwin said ‚Äúall fertile areas of the planet have at least once passed through the bodies of earthworms‚ÄĚ.¬† ‚ÄúWorms are more powerful than the African elephant and more important to the economy than the cow‚ÄĚ.

There are many benefits from involving children in vermicomposting, including understanding the nutrient and decomposition cycle, learning critical thinking, worm reproduction and just plain having fun!

In 2010 Trina Ball, Advanced Master Gardener Volunteer, 2010 Master Gardener of the Year for Leelanau County, Certified Teacher for Michigan Master Gardener Composting Curriculum and, as she is lovingly known, ‚ÄúThe Worm Lady of Empire‚ÄĚ began a vermicomposting program in the local schools.

The vermicomposting program is known as ‚ÄúClassroom Worm Chow – Down Initiative‚ÄĚ.¬† The first schools involved were Leland School, St. Mary‚Äôs School and The Leelanau Children‚Äôs Center.¬† Trina provided the bins, which she makes in her garage with FoodCorps Service Members and/or her husband, and brings many of the bins home during summer recess.

Since 2010  more educators wanted the bins and they are now in classrooms at the 3 original schools, plus Greenspire,  Crystal Lake, Central Lake, Interlochen, Platte River and Traverse Heights schools.  Some of the educators at Leland Schools have 2 bins for various comparative experiments showing how temperature, type of food scraps, etc. can make a difference in the amount of compost, plus reproduction and health of the worms.

The worms used are Eisenia fetida and also known as red worms or red wiggler worms.  The children are fascinated when they see that their initial colony of worms now has babies.

Trina’s program has expanded with the help of FoodCorps.  The current service members, Lianna and Megan, for example, have visited various schools many times over the past 2 years to teach and check on the worm bins, plus Trina recently designed a helpful trouble-shooting card for students and educators.  The goal is to have the children decide what might be causing a problem with the bin and experiment with corrections.  Usually the problems relate to balance:  too much food or too little food; too much water or too little water.

The teachers have a wish list that includes funding for scales, magnifiers, thermometers, 2-eyed microscopes that will sync to overhead projectors and buttons for the children that show ‚Äúworms eat my garbage‚ÄĚ.¬† Should anyone wish to donate to the schools for any of this needed equipment, contact Trina Ball and she will help make it happen.

The Classroom Worm Chow РDown Initiative has been a valuable teaching tool for the classroom and Trina has worked tirelessly to make the program a success.  Because of the number of people now involved, Trina has created an interactive Google doc so that everyone involved can post questions and keep in touch and up to date.  The classroom Worm Chow РDown Initiative has partnered a Master Gardener and children with worms and food scraps for a terrific example of Master Gardener service to the community.

If you have any questions please contact Trina at

Administration – July ’15 Real Dirt

Contents (Click on a title or scroll)

Why Be a Master Gardener: Part 1

The Michigan Master Gardener Program: Its Partners, Their Roles & Responsibilities

Why Be a Master Gardener: Part 1

By Michele Worden, Advanced Master Gardener, Member of Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan

This is the first part of a series of articles that asks the question ‚ÄúWhy be a Master Gardener?‚Ä̬† This big, existential question also implies the questions of ‚Äúwhat does it mean to be Master Gardener to us as individuals? to the community in which we live and work? to our society as a whole?‚Ä̬† Over the last 3 years there have been changes in how Master Gardeners are certified and organized across the state.¬† In this series of articles we will take a look at the changes, ask ourselves what has stayed the same and what has changed, and try to answer the question, ‚ÄúWhy be a Master Gardener?‚ÄĚ in 2015.¬† ‚ÄúWhat is the value proposition?‚ÄĚ as my business colleagues would say.

First, I would like to ask the readers to take a short survey as an input to future parts of this multi-part article.¬† We would like to know ‚Äúare you currently an MSUE certified Master Gardener in Michigan?‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúAre you a member of the state level Michigan Master Gardener Association? Are you a member of the local area Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan?‚ÄĚ, and finally ‚Äúwhat does being a master gardener mean to you‚ÄĚ?¬† Please click here to answer these questions.¬† We really want to know about you and what you think!

Readership of The Real Dirt was expanded beyond members of the Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan two years ago.  For readers of The Real Dirt who may not already be Master Gardeners, (please skip the survey questions) we will divert for a moment to define a Master Gardener volunteer (MG).

The Master Gardener Program is a volunteer program found in all 50 states, the purpose is to educate the public on the subjects of gardening and horticulture from the perspective of researched based science.  In 2009, the National Master Gardener survey found there to be almost 95,000 master gardeners nationwide, providing over 5 million volunteer hours with an economic value of $101.4 M.  The Michigan Master Gardener program started as part of Michigan State University Extension services in 1978, and has since trained over 30,000 Master Gardener volunteers.  In 2013, there were 3222 certified Master Gardeners in Michigan providing over $370,000 hours of volunteer service with an economic value of $8.3M.

In each state, MG volunteers are trained and certified by their respective state land grant universities as part of their university’s Extension services.  In Michigan, Master Gardener training and certification falls under Michigan State University Extension, one of our nation’s first land grant universities and extension services.

Land grant universities were given land and funded in the 1860’s in exchange for research and education about agriculture, science and engineering.  A land-grant university also operates cooperative extension services, funded by the Department of Agriculture and local communities, to further it’s research and educational missions. 

Prospective Master Gardeners first take a training course to learn the latest scientific research and understanding in horticulture and agriculture.  After the course, they complete 40 hours of volunteer work as trainees, to achieve their initial certification.  After the first year, MG’s must complete a minimum of 15 hours of volunteer work and 5 educational hours annually to maintain their MG certification. 

MSU Extension maintains the certification records with their Volunteer Management Services (VMS) database, and provides an MSU Extension employee to assist with MG volunteer coordination, among other duties.  The new position of Consumer Horticulture Program Instructor also provides for MG volunteer coordination, and works as part of the MSU Extension Consumer Horticulture team.  In an interesting twist, funding for our local MG coordinator is mostly through Leelanau County funds.  Leelanau County reviews their financial contribution to the Consumer Horticulture Program Instructor (formerly MG Coordinator) position periodically, and makes their decision to continue funding is based, in part, upon the number of MG volunteer hours provided in Leelanau County and it’s economic benefit/impact.

In our area, Master Gardener training classes are held each fall at the MSUE Research Station in Leelanau County.  Today classes take place one evening per week, starting in late August and going through early December.  In prior years, there was sometimes a class also in the spring of the year.  From 2009-2012, there were 143 trainees who completed the MG training class.  In 2014, there were 71 re-certified Master Gardeners in the Benzie/Grand Traverse/Leelanau roster and 44 trainees that attended the training class in Leelanau county.  Traditionally not all of the trainees will complete their hours and become certified Master Gardeners. 

In part 2 of this article, I hope to share the number of certified Master Gardeners in northern Michigan currently.¬† For more information about the 2015 fall class, contact Elise Carolan, the Consumer Horticulture Program Instructor¬†and MG coordinator, at HYPERLINK “”

Prior to 2012, the Master Gardener Program was able to exist entirely under the umbrella of MSU Extension.¬† In 2012, tax dollars from the State were cut, and no longer fully funded the Master Gardener program.¬† Thus began the restructuring of the Master Gardener Program.¬† From this funding change, MSUE kept the coordinator position and the certification database, but found it needed to charge $20 for annual certification, to cover the costs of the training and maintaining the database for certification.¬† Also from this change, part of the old Master Gardener program was carved out and became independent ‚Äď thus the statewide organization called the Michigan Master Gardener Association (MMGA) was born.¬†

The MMGA is a nonprofit corporation and a 501c3 organization which provides extended educational opportunities, such as Master Gardener College, can accept funds and provides liability insurance for members.  To be part of the statewide association, an individual must to be a certified Master Gardener through MSUE.  Cost to be a member of MMGA is $5 annually.

In addition to the statewide MG organization, there have been small local organizations of Master Gardeners across the state.  Our local association is the Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan, or MGANM.  The Real Dirt is the newsletter for our local association.  MGANM was formed in the 1990’s and membership has fluctuated over time.

In 2012, the local associations found themselves without a parent organization and needing to either form their own organizational structure or become part of another organization.¬† Many local associations across the state became affiliates of the statewide Michigan Master Gardener Association after it was finally formed, but this took a while.¬† Things were a bit confusing at that time.¬† There was uncertainty about what action was best to take for MGANM.¬† In northern Michigan, members of MGANM voted to come under the umbrella of the Botanic Garden Society or Northwest Michigan, what is now known as Botanic Garden at the Historic Barns Park.¬† BGS is a 501c3 and has liability insurance that covers MGANM members.¬† A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between MGANM and BGS in July of 2012, and MGANM officially became a ‚Äúprogram‚ÄĚ of BGS, sharing in the 501c3 status, license to solicit (for fundraising) and liability insurance.¬† Former MGANM president Marina Deering served as the liaison between the MGANM Executive board and the BGS board until June 2015, when the position was filled by Liz Clous.¬† Currently MGANM has 44 members from 7 counties.¬† Also, you do not need to currently be a certified MG to be a member of MGANM.¬† This is a change from pre-2012.

Today it is possible to be a Master Gardener in Michigan several different ways.  You may be

1) a certified Master Gardener only with MSUE (a Master Gardener At-Large),

2) a certified Master Gardener AND a member of MMGA, 

3) a certified MG, a member of MMGA, AND a member of your local association like MGANM. 

Or some combination.  While this can be a bit confusing, hopefully we have provided some clarity in this article.

Now that we have some perspective on ‚Äúwhat is a Master Gardener?‚ÄĚ, we will talk more about the value proposition and why people still want to do this, 50 years after it all started.¬† Stay tuned‚Ķ



MG Rick George tending a food garden

MG Rick George tending a food garden


The Michigan Master Gardener Program: Its Partners, Their Roles & Responsibilities

By Elise M. Carolan, Michigan State University Extension, Leelanau County Program Instructor, Consumer Horticulture

The Michigan State University Extension Consumer Horticulture team, local Extension¬†Master Gardener (EMG) associations and a statewide Michigan Master Gardener¬†Association (MMGA) come together to make the Michigan Master Gardener Program¬†(MGP) what it is ‚Äď a statewide volunteer and certification program which furthers¬†educational programming in order to better equip Michigan‚Äôs 10 million residents with¬†relevant, applicable, and sound horticultural knowledge to improve quality of life,¬†community and environment.

The MSUE Consumer Horticulture team is comprised of a handful of MSU Extension workers, sprinkled across the state. In northwest Michigan, we can thank Leelanau County for providing ongoing support to offer MSU Extension programming with a home/consumer horticulture focus, including: the Master Gardener Program, Diagnostic Clinics, and the Leelanau Community Garden. The next closest county which provides similar support is Kent county, home to Grand Rapids. Speaking as a northwest Michigan resident, am extremely grateful that our local government deems the interaction of its residents with their home environments as an important activity to provide research-based, educational support. As citizens, we have the power in numbers, given the proper education, to shape our environments to better quality and diversity of life.

The MSUE Consumer Horticulture team manage the Master Gardener Program in Michigan as one of its six state-wide team initiatives. The others being:

  • soil testing,,
  • the lawn and garden hotline (1-888-MSUE4MI),
  • the Gardening in Michigan website (,
  • focus and standardized curricula such as webinars (Smart Vegetable Gardening¬†101),
  • and proactive media outreach including radio shows, conferences, and the¬†Smart Gardening Initiative.

The Horticulture team set the MGP standards and policies for its operation. They provide certification and recertification based on annual requirements. They provide the Volunteer Management System (VMS) for record keeping, recognition materials, staff training, staff support, and EMG program training materials. They provide advanced educational opportunities and targeted volunteer opportunities, including the statewide lawn & garden hotline, local diagnostics clinics, Smart Gardening outreach and Ask an Expert. Consumer horticulture team members can also serve as liaisons or advisors with local associations Рas is the case with my position and our local association.

Local associations, like our very own Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan (MGANM), help to ground the program in their community. They serve as local connection for Extension Master Gardeners (EMGs) and may provide: social networking, volunteer recognition, connection of its members to local volunteer projects, educational programs that qualify for EMG education hours, scholarships for class participants and also provide non-EMGs with an affiliate membership. They collaborate with EMG coordinators, the state association РMMGA, and the MSUE consumer horticulture team. Their fees and dues vary and they determine their own legal status, bylaws, and board structure. They may also choose to be an affiliate chapter with MMGA.

MMGA, the most recent partner to the EMG party, was established in 2012 and began accepting its first affiliate chapters in 2013. MMGA provides liability insurance for Master Gardener volunteers at group rates, assistance to local associations, a template for by-laws, support for EMGs who don’t have a local association in their area, organization for a speaker bank to provide speakers for local clubs and associations on key environmental topics. The organization works with MSUE to offer educational opportunities at the annual Master Gardener College. Much like my position serves as our local Master Gardener Program coordinator and advisor to our local association, Mary Wilson, the statewide MGP coordinator, serves an advisory role for the statewide association, MMGA.

The Michigan Master Gardener Program can thrive when these three partners РMSUE consumer horticulture team, local associations, and MMGA  come together. This is now the structure for the program. In northwest Michigan, we have a strong history of MGANM and a local, mostly county-based, MGP coordinator working together to offer a great program. Recently, my position has been expanded and can work more closely with the statewide Consumer Horticulture team. This means that we can better offer those statewide initiatives on our local level. Perhaps this also means more Smart Gardening training, bringing conferences to Northwest Michigan and giving our local, Advanced Master Gardeners the opportunity to staff the statewide Lawn & Garden Hotline to share their knowledge across the state. Moving forward, perhaps our local MGANM will considering affiliating themselves with MMGA to tap into their resources and better support the program and Extension Master Gardeners statewide to further the mission:

The mission of the MSU Extension Master Gardener Program is to further the land-grant university goal of disseminating scientifically based information via a network of trained volunteers who receive support and guidance from MSU Extension specialists and educators in providing Michigan residents with the most current and environmentally sound horticulture information.


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