Serve – May ’15 Real Dirt

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Volunteering Guidelines… briefly

Hey Extension Master Gardener, are you working with, or would like to work with, a YOUTH audience??

Volunteering Guidelines… briefly

Cheryl Gross & Elise Carolan


The MG Volunteering season is upon us! With each new sprout or bud, gardeners are itching to kneel in the dirt, plant seeds, and sharpen our pruners. It is time to share our Master Gardener horticultural, science-based know-how.   But, wait! How do we do that?

Elise, our MSU Extension consumer horticulture liaison, is keeping very busy with learning the details of the MGANM partnership and Master Gardener Program coordinating ropes, participating in strategic planning with MMGA and the other regional groups, and representing our area’s Master Gardener Program to the state. Catching her on the run, she made the following volunteering guideline suggestions:

            ‘In brief, Extension Master Gardeners are volunteer horticultural educators. MSU Extension can accomplish SO much more research-based, scientifically sound horticultural outreach with your help! As a local resident, I am very appreciative that you, as Extension Master Gardeners, have chosen to participate in this program to accomplish this very important, common goal!

But, in terms of volunteer hours to stay up on re-certification, what counts and what doesn’t? Well, we are currently in a strategic planning process for the Master Gardener Program, and there is a chance that things may change (The “working plan” will be finalized with the collaboration of MMGA, local associations across the state, Extension Master Gardener’s-at-large, and the Extension consumer horticulture work team on Monday, May 4th on the MSU campus in East Lansing).

However, here are some specifics to keep in mind as you go about your role as an Extension Master Gardener: The service must be non-paying, horticulture-related, public education (outreach)-related, and should be provided to or with a non-profit organization. Again, an intentional educational purpose directed towards the public is the key! As an example, you could educate a garden committee at a local non-profit about what type of plants would be the “smartest” for their garden. You could develop a brochure to be disseminated by me or MGANM regarding a horticultural topic of your choice, you could create signage for “smart” plants at a public garden to make the garden educational.

I’m am currently working on two such projects, and I welcome the involvement (or leadership) of any Extension Master Gardeners with them.

  • The first: An educational native landscape and rain garden at the Leeleanu County Government Center. There is a beautiful, native/well-adapted, and horticulturally sound garden here at my office. However, permanent, exterior, educational signage could educate the Government Center’s visitors and staff as to the benefits of working with well-adapted or native plants and also of having a rain garden to trap contaminants and excess water from the parking lot runoff.
  • The second: the Leelanau Community Garden this serves as a space for horticultural education for those interested with small scale, vegetable gardening. For instance, on May 28th we are having 60 West Middle School students out to help plant the garden and educated these “Greenagers” about how fun and easy home vegetable production can be. However, there is much to be done from a management and coordinating perspective to keep this space up and running to facilitate horticultural, public outreach education. Let me know if you’re interested!

If you have any questions about this or are interested in brainstorming about your fabulous volunteering educational ideas please call my direct line at the office: (231) 256-8323. Let’s have a conversation about it. My voicemails go right to my email, so I can call you back even while traveling. Though, for most inquiries, please call the Leelanau Extension office at (231) 256-9888 for a more speedy reply to your questions.

One more time for good measure: the end goal needs to be both horticulture education and community outreach oriented.

Kids with dirty hands smaller-by M. Worden

3rd Graders from Central Grade School, Traverse City Photo by MG Michele Worden


Hey Extension Master Gardener, are you working with, or would like to work with, a YOUTH audience??

Elise Carolan

Please be aware of the following: MSU Extension Master Gardener programming offered to young people is called 4-H! 4-H is not just livestock – Who knew, right? Any MSU Extension program dealing with youth development is under the 4-H umbrella. Again, this includes Extension Master Gardeners! And, it is not confined to just the Junior Master Gardener Program.

If you enjoy working with youth as an Extension Master Gardener, GREAT! MSU Extension has staff people in every county to support you! This is something you may already be aware of, or, something that I or my 4-H colleagues, may be calling you about over this next year if you have logged hours for youth programming, but are not in the 4-H system.

Here’s the good stuff: Our local 4-H Program Coordinators in northwest Michigan are poised to help you reach out to youth, facilitate partnerships with youth organizations and/or schools, provide resources such as trainings, curriculum, funding and liability insurance!


Here are our local, 4-H program coordinators:

Leelanau County

Susan Lee,, (231) 256-9888


Grand Traverse County

Karin Stevens,, (231) 922-4825


Benzie County

Debra Lawes,, (231) 882-0025




Serve – March ’15 Real Dirt

There, some agents may also have online pharmacy provera 10mg withered effects that provider group glucose, lactate, and metabolic acidosis. The median survival following the diagnosis of Aids depends on the initial AIDSdefining glamour but is still only about treatments, despite progress in glutamate this illness.

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Real Dirt Reader Survey

Real Dirt Reader Survey

by Cheryl Gross

Your Real Dirt Team strives to provide helpful and educational information to you, our readers. In an effort to keep us fresh and on point we are asking for your input on a variety of topics.

Please take a moment to complete the attached brief survey by clicking our safelink below:

Serve – January ’15 Real Dirt

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New Master Gardeners

New Advanced Master Gardeners

Re-Certified Master Gardeners

Lifetime Service Awards

Master Gardeners of the Year

Silent Auction

Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park Strategic Plan: Imagining 2018

Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park Strategic Plan: Latest News

New Master Gardeners

Lindy Barnes
Peggy Burman
Jillian Foerster
Corey Hansen
Mary Lynn Heid
Jason Hill
Joanne Johnsen
Mary Norris
Kathleen Olson
Judith Reich
Kathleen Scott
Laurie Schneider
Barbara Solomonson
Barbara Springsteen
Terry Virta
Linda Walter
Marvin Walter
Tom Waurzyniak
Glynis Waycaster
Lori White

New Advanced Master Gardeners

Kelly Dillan
Kristine Drake
Michael Kiessel
Lori Oberson
Jill Porter

Re-Certified Master Gardeners

Trina Ball
Elizabeth Clous
Mike Davis
Marina Deering
Nancy Denison
Kelly Dillan
Martha Dively
Kristine Drake
Lin Emmert
Barbara Fasulo-Emmott
Betsy Fisher
Janet Fleshman
Candy Gardner
Rick George
JoAnne Gerben
Cheryl Gross
Theresa Harding
Michael Kiessel
Anne Kline
Marian Kromkowski
Evelyn Laman
Nancy Larson
Kathleen Lewis
Lillian Mahaney
Rebecca Mang
Deborah Marsh
Lynn McAndrews
Karen McClatchey
Ann McInnis
Martha McPheters-Ealy
Gary Michalek
Whitney Miller
Ann Nichols
Kathy Pilon
Jill Porter
Elaine Resh Phyllis Robinson
Cynthia Rosiek
Cynthia Sack
Joseph Sarafa
Sue Sensenbaugh-Padgett
Luc Serriere
Deborah Slusher
Sue Soderberg
Sara Sokolnicki
Ruth Steele-Walker
Valerie Trumbull
Randolph Trumbull
Peggi Tucker
Suzanne Waring
Larry Winegar
Michele Worden

Lifetime Service Awards

250 Hours

Kelly Dillan
Candy Gardener
Cheryl Gross
Whitney Miller
Ruth Steele-Walker
Suzanne Waring
Larry Winegar

500 Hours

Karen McClatchey
Martha McPheters-Ealy
Luc Serriere

1500 Hours

Ann McInnis

Top 10

Luc Serriere, 360.5 Hours
Ann McInnis, 319 Hours
Karen McClatchey, 303 Hours
Martha McPheters-Ealy, 253 Hours
Whitney Miller, 178.5 Hours
Trina Ball, 128.25 Hours
Nancy Larson, 127 Hours
Theresa Harding, 121 Hours
Ann Nichols, 119 Hours
Marina Deering, 104.5 Hours

Master Gardeners of the Year

Benzie: Cheryl Gross
Grand Traverse: Liz Clous
Leelanau: Kathy Lewis
*Special recognition to Kathleen Olson in Wexford

Silent Auction

by Lillian Mahaney

I would like to thank everyone who participated in the recent Master Gardener Scholarship Fund Silent Auction at our annual volunteer appreciation luncheon. The auction this year raised just over $750 for scholarships. (Can you see me doing the Snoopy Happy Dance?)

Thank you to Nancy, Becky, Deb, Trina, Kristine, Luc and Victoria for their contributions to, and assistance with, the auction. If I have left out anyone please forgive me and know that the error was not intentional.

Thank you to everyone who purchased the items. The auction would not have been such a success without everyone being so generous with their time, their donations and their purchases.

Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park Strategic Plan: Imagining 2018

Submitted by Marina Deering

Think about what 2018 holds for all of us. What goals, accomplishments and tasks would you like to see completed by that year? How would you measure the success of those tasks? 12 board members and volunteers from the community met recently to discuss and respond to the following question about the Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park:

What specific accomplishments would you like to see in place by January 2018 that would demonstrate the Botanic Gardens at Historic Barns Park has made significant progress toward the long-term vision of a completed, LEED-certified, sustainable public garden that is functioning as the #1 year-round attraction in northwest Michigan?

The BGHBP board and volunteers created the following vision of accomplishment:

Three years from now multiple established gardens and renovated historic buildings, along with a committed Board of Directors and professional staff, will have positioned the Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park as a recognized, respected brand with the components in place to flourish for decades to come.

One strategic priority for action over the next three years includes working on elements that will enable the Garden to function as an established attraction that is poised for completion. Specific accomplishments in this area will include completed gardens and building renovations, resolution of parking, road and signage issues on the Historic Barns Park property and a working marketing plan that builds the Botanic Garden’s brand awareness and reputation at the state and national levels.

Another strategic priority for the next three years is a thriving Board of Directors for the Botanic Garden with solid governance and leadership and professional-level staffing that provides effective management for the Garden. Accomplishments for this priority will include organizational stability with maintainable policies and practices in place, a long-term lease for the property, a robust development program that includes sustainable revenue streams, and integration and use of technology that encourages productivity and achievement of the Garden’s operational, funding and marketing goals.

The Botanic Garden is cognizant of obstacles, barriers or roadblocks that may prevent realization of this vision and implementation of the strategic priorities. Participants in the planning process identified the following potential issues to be considered in developing the strategy for action:

  1. Competition for donors with other worthy non-profit organizations and projects
  2. Volunteer burnout
  3. Potential changes at the Recreational Authority Board
  4. Garfield Township and City of Traverse City politics
  5. Sensitivity toward the impact the Botanic Garden’s actions will have on the other management entities on the Historic Barns Park property
  6. The impact the Cathedral Barn events will have on the Botanic Garden
  7. Usage issues and potential conflicts with other users at Historic Barns Park
  8. Limited number of influential leaders to assume responsibility — there is competition for these types of people

Goals for 2015

  1. Long-term lease on the property
  2. Hire an Executive Director to start no later than January 2016
  3. Paid accounting service (990, audit, financial controls)
  4. Fully implement and integrate database and software
  5. Establishment of a formal group of Historic Barns Park stakeholders to address shared infrastructure issues including roads and parking
  6. Draft and begin implementing a comprehensive marketing plan
  7. Implement fund development plan recommended by the Garden’s development consultants
  8. Complete the Walled Garden and Visitor Center Garden, pool; install Wagon House roof and garage doors
  9. Fill vacancies on the Board of Directors and complete the review and revisions of governance, structure, by-laws and functions

The Botanic Garden’s Board of Directors is committed to achieving its strategic priorities over the next three years and welcomes community participation in attaining these goals. The Garden continues to seek out, expand, and nurture relationships with volunteer groups, private and public entities and others to develop and “grow the garden.”


Botanic Gardens at Historic Barns Park: Latest News

by Terry Harding and Cheryl Gross

  1. Concrete for the silo pool and fountain is in process. Pictures can be found on the Garden’s Facebook page:
  1. Discussions continue regarding installing green roofs on several buildings. Some buildings are strong enough to support the weight of a green roof, other buildings will need reinforcements.
  1. Donations and funding for the Gardens are on-going. Individuals are giving. A Home Depot grant for Garage updates and improvements, plus Home Depot employee labor is in the works. An application for a grant from Chemical Bank is completed and the Gardens await word on that award.
  1. The Strategic Plan is completed (and included here). Work is ongoing with the Garden’s Recreational Authority partners and Garfield Township to begin plan implementation.
  1. 40,000 spring bulbs have been planted and are stored in the root cellar. Goal is to maintain proper temperature and humidity for a fabulous show in spring.

Serve – Nov ’14 Real Dirt

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

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

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

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

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

photo 4

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

Suttons Bay Rain Gardens and Their Benefits

Lillian Mahaney

Last year The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay received a grant to help the Village of Suttons Bay upgrade their stormdrain system to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff getting into Grand Traverse Bay and to help reduce harmful bacteria carried by stormwater at their two public beaches. The project included the construction of nearly 3/4 mile of underground infiltration trenches and the creation of 18 rain gardens. Water running off the roads and other impervious surfaces throughout the Village flows into the rain gardens and infiltration trenches where it is absorbed into the ground naturally, rather than directly discharging it to the surface water. Any excess runoff into the rain gardens that is not absorbed into the ground during heavy rains flows into the storm drains nestled in the rain gardens.

Some of the benefits of planting rain gardens include the following:

· Rain gardens help to reduce pollution in our lakes, bays, rivers and streams

· Rain gardens help recharge the ground water

· Rain gardens create native habitat that attracts butterflies, birds and other wildlife

· Rain gardens beautify the landscape

Some of the plants in the Suttons Bay rain gardens include: Prairie dropseed grass, lance-leafed coreopsis, purple dome aster, purple coneflower, purple prairie clover, New Jersey tea, little bluestem grass, downy serviceberry, blue muffin viburnum, summer wine nineseed and side oats grama grass.

As the plants mature they will provide beautiful color and design to the gardens. Sarah U’Ren, Watershed Center of Grand Traverse Bay Program Director, has asked for assistance in helping to maintain these wonderful rain gardens. She is working with the Village of Suttons Bay and is asking for volunteers to “adopt a rain garden” and help with weeding, plant replacement, and watering over the next few years as the rain gardens become established. There is also a need for Master Gardeners to help oversee the volunteers’ efforts, since there may be those adopting the gardens that need a bit of guidance in working with the gardens. If anyone is interested in helping with the gardens please call or email me for further information: Lillian Mahaney 231- 256-8844

There are currently signs on the gardens most visible as people travel on St. Joseph’s Street in Suttons Bay. These signs show some of the plants and describe the benefits of the rain gardens.

Image from GTSI Professional Development and Community Dinner, via

Teaching Stewardship…Spreading the Word

Lillian Mahaney and Sue Sensenbaugh-Padgett

The Grand Traverse Stewardship Initiative, GTSI, a program that focuses on assisting teachers in implementing place-based education (PBE) projects at their schools. Kristen Grote is the Stewardship Initiative Program Coordinator for the Grand Traverse Conservation District.

On September 24, 2014 the Boardman River Nature Center hosted a GTSI event attended by Lillian and Sue. The event was titled “Dinner & Dialogue” and was attended by many teachers from schools in the area, along with community partners represented by American Waste, Blackbird Arts, The Friendly Garden Club, Inland Seas, the Invasive Species Network, the Jr. Master Gardener program, Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Green Schools, National Park Service, Perennial Harvest, REMC2, Traverse City Light & Power and a TBAISD Mathematics/Science Coordinator.

The purpose of the dinner was to bring teachers and community partners together to converse about current and future projects and find out how to help each other reach their goals. The teachers rotated at each dinner course so each community partner was able to reach all of the teachers present.

The Jr. Master Gardener program was well received and many teachers said they were interested in learning more about the program and possibly attending future training classes. Additionally, teachers were interested in having Master Gardeners come into their classrooms to speak to the children. If you have any interest in working in the classroom please contact Lillian Mahaney, or Sue Sensenbaugh-Padgett

Serve – Sep ’14 Real Dirt

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There’s a Master Gardener on your Block

Matthew Bertrand

Master Gardener on your Block, a new way for us as Master Gardeners to help people in our community. Read on to find out how lucky people in our community are who have a Master Gardener on their Block!

Why Master Gardener on your Block?

Although historically the Master Gardener program has encouraged service to groups and non-profits over individuals, our area differs in key ways from the communities out of which came that policy. Because our region is so much less dense and with such a lower population, organized volunteer opportunities are fewer. It can be extremely difficult to organize opportunities without help, and help can also be harder to find here.

In 2013, only seven of the 23 trainees completed their 40 hours; it can be remarkably difficult to find service opportunities, especially for working people, which is ironic given how much need exists. Master Gardener on your Block is a way to help encourage you to share your knowledge with people who live in your neighborhood or beyond, whether on a group basis through an association or “over the fence.” Just remember – your role is that of an educator, not as the neighborhood’s “Master Weeder.”

What Materials Are Available?

If you have not yet obtained the Master Gardener on your Block business card, please pick one up from the Benzie, Grand Traverse, or Leelanau MSUE offices. I printed enough for 100 Master Gardeners to use 100 cards each – there are plenty available.

For each card, you may cross out any subjects about which you do not wish to provide services. However, as you’ll see below, there really shouldn’t be a subject for which you can’t provide service of value to someone in need.

For your contact information on the back, rather than handwriting your information on each card, you may print standard return address labels, and overlay them as a speedy means to personalize the cards.

Educational Role of the Master Gardener Volunteer

Your role as a Master Gardener, like always, is not to have all (or even any!) of the answers, but to help find answers. Below I’d like to refer you to the core scope of MSUE services to which you should connect people.

1. Smart Gardening. You can pick up bookmarks from the Benzie, Leelanau, and Grand Traverse MSUE offices on the following subjects. We’d like all Master Gardeners to lead all conversations focusing in on these core messages. They cover standard practices that we’d like to see ALL GARDENERS IN MICHIGAN adopt.

  1. Soils – don’t guess, soil test!
  2. Plants – use well-adapted or native plants
  3. Lawns – mow high (3”) and mulch in leaves

2. MSUE Diagnostic Clinic

  1. If you don’t have an answer, connect homeowners to the Wednesday Diagnostics clinic. You should try to stop by the clinic sometime to learn more about how it works, so you can effectively make this connection. It is held Wednesdays from 10am-2pm at the MSUE Grand Traverse office. It’s a great place to learn.
  2. Michigan Garden HotlineWhen making a site visit, if you’re unsure of an answer, call the Statewide Garden Hotline with the homeowner. Your doing so is a triple win.1. You’ll model how to use the hotline for the homeowner, so that s/he will be more comfortable using it in the future2. You’ll help that person get a better answer, since with two eyes at the site you’ll better be able to relate the problem to the person staffing the hotline.3. You’ll learn the answer yourself, and better be able to serve in the future.
  3. website

1. My colleagues are working to improve this website. Our goal is to make it the premiere site to access world-class garden knowledge relevant to the state of Michigan.

What’s Next?

Go on down to your local extension office, and pick up your set of Master Gardener on your Block cards! The next time you’re on a stroll through your neighborhood, take a moment to introduce yourself to any neighbors you see. Let them know how lucky they are to have a “Master Gardener on THEIR Block!”


Small tip; BIG Impact

Cheryl Gross

As mentioned by Matthew Bertrand in his article on the new program “There’s A Master Gardener on Your Block” the Master Gardener Association has developed small tips on three areas of gardening that should be adopted by ALL who garden in Michigan. Following these bits of wisdom will have a profound impact on our environment and added success as gardeners. They cover standard practices that ALL GARDENERS IN MICHIGAN should follow. PLEASE, take the lead.

Soils – don’t guess, soil test!

By understanding the soil we can plant appropriate plants in that soil and use fertilizers specifically for our soil needs. The plants will be healthier and more productive when paired with the proper soil and groundwater and surface water will be protected from less runoff and seepage of chemicals like nitrogen and phosphorus.

Plants – use well-adapted or native plants

Experience and research has shown clearly that plants have a relationship with place and we need to recognize and follow that. Michigan native plants are well adapted to our soil types and climate. Once established, their demand for water and soil amendments is practically nil. Michigan native plants are beautiful AND beneficial. Their deep root systems do much to move water and nutrients through the soil. Rain gardens demonstrate the value of rain water runoff control. Deep roots filter and clean runoff before it reaches the ground water. Appropriate plants along the shoreline create buffer strips between the land and the water to absorb the water’s energy and protect the shoreline while providing a runoff filter to keen unwanted nutrients and pollutants out of the water.

Lawns – mow high (3”) and mulch in leaves

Lawns blanket much of our garden surface. Lawn grass is not native to our region. It has little to recommend it as a plant with its shallow root system, frequent moisture requirement to maintain health, and additional nutrition and herbicide treatment requirements to stay looking well. Since we love our lawns and want to continue to use them in our landscaping, there are two tricks we can employ to support this plant.

Mow high. Yep. Number one tip. Mow at least 3”. The longer blade offers several benefits. It helps to shade the roots and retain moisture. The longer blade blocks some seed from getting through to germinate. A 3-4” blade length lawn will be stronger.

Secondly, mulching lawn grass clippings returns nitrogen to the soil and mulching leaves along with the blades in the spring and fall further creates a natural fertilizer.

Should every gardener, every homeowner employ these three small tips on Soil, Plants, and Lawns the environmental would be significant. Lead the way, Master Gardeners.

Serve – July ’14 Real Dirt

The Joys of Gardening with Children

By Michele Worden


As I walk into a school, arms encircle me from behind.  I turn around and a little familiar face grins up at me and says “I am so glad you are here today!”.  I grin back, feeling like a rock star.  I enter the classroom where I am working with students and teachers and I am gifted with a pile of hand-made cards and smiles and waves.  It is the end of the school year and the students have made thank you cards for me.  One reads “…every time we went into the garden was my favorite time…”


We all go out to the garden, where Master Gardener trainee Joanne awaits us.  She is assisting with the class to earn her MG certification.  We laugh as kids get excited over worms in the compost, or are amazed at the tiny size of the carrot seeds they are planting.  We stop to pick some kale or chives or mint to munch.  Appetites for healthy foods are insatiable in the garden as kids explore the world with their mouths.  The teacher shakes her head in amazement at what they will try (sometimes dirt).  We all snack on pea shoots – a first try of this food for all and our first real harvest of the spring.


Why is gardening with kids important?  These students are the future.  If we want a healthy progeny, then give them exercise, and teach them to eat healthy, in the garden.  Kids are disconnected from nature today – the garden helps them reconnect, and in the process calms them by releasing a soothing natural element that make it easier for them to focus when they go back inside.  The garden is an elementary school’s first science laboratory.  With the USA falling behind in science and math, hands-on experiments and experiences in the garden bolster student understanding of concepts in botany, environmental sciences and math and statistics.  Think germination rates, growth rates, measuring systems, soil science.   Just about every subject can be taught in a garden.  I love to facilitate vegetable haikus and journal about tomato seedling growth, or sketch red lettuce leaves with colored pencils.  Language arts, writing for science, art can all be done in a garden.  And the more hands-on the learning activity, the better the kids brains retain the information.


How can you get involved?  There are many ways to get involved in gardening with children.  The Traverse Area Children’s Garden is always looking for garden plot group mentors and even Master Gardeners to help with occasional programming during the spring and summer in the Enabling Garden.   I have been a mentor there for 8 years and it has been fun watching the children grow from year to year like the beans they plant.


Lillian Mahaney coordinates the Jr Master Gardener  program, a kind of mini-version of the adult MG program which can be geared for different grade levels.  The Jr MG program is usually done as a 6-8 week after school program one day a week in the spring.  But the program is very adaptable to other formats and schedules.  Karen McClatchey will be doing the JRMG classes at the Botanical Garden Society in July.


Some nonprofits in our area also work with children and youth.  Grow Benzie offers program for children and even partners with schools in Benzie County to teach agriculture to students.  Fifth grade students at Lake Ann elementary traveled to the hoop houses at Grow Benzie to start seeds and plant transplants.  Grow Benzie also presents activities at the school and helps manage the hoop house at Platte River elementary.  Deb Query at Grow Benzie says her only limit is having enough volunteers to work with students.  The Institute for Sustainable Development (ISLAND) does similar work in Antrim County at Central Lake elementary.  SEEDS  includes horticulture and agriculture programs amongst it’s after school student programs.


Many schools in our area are joining the school garden movement on their own based upon the enthusiasm of staff and parent volunteers.  They would love to have some Master Gardener assistance!  Sometimes sitting down for coffee and a chat with teachers on how to organize and plan can help launch a project that will bring joy to many smiling faces.   Elk Rapids schools put up a hoop house a couple of years ago, and the IB school at Bertha Voss erected their hoop house this spring.   There are greenhouses at The Children’s House and The Greenspire School.  So many places and ways to get involved!  You can help them write a grant, work with students starting seeds or harvest with them in the garden.


Perhaps the most comprehensive youth gardening initiative is through Farm to School, a national grassroots movement.  Any school can start it’s own Farm to School program.  Farm to school is a collaboration of schools, farmers, parents and community partners to bring local foods, nutrition education and garden-based learning and  school gardens to students.  Locally, a Farm to School grant from the USDA is administered by the Michigan Land Use Institute (MLUI).  It is implemented in 14 schools across Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau and Antrim county.  MLUI applied for the grant with TBAISD,  and several school districts, to implement this program in elementary schools that have 50% or more free and reduced lunch status.   I am helping to implement this grant in four schools locally.  (I have served in Traverse Heights, Central Grade, Interlochen, Blair, and Lake Ann).   I am joined by another Farm to school educator, Pam Bardenhagen (formerly of MSU Extension) and two FoodCorps Service members, Lianna Bowman and Meghan McDermott.


If you want to connect with others to learn about youth gardening, the American Horticultural Society (AHS) has a fabulous conference coming up in Columbus, Ohio in July.  It is the AHS Children and Youth Gardening Symposium and it will energize you to go back to your community and make magic!  Another great resource is the Growing School Gardens community on in Edweb, a free online community with blogs and webinars.


Anything you do to positively impact the life of a child has a tremendous impact on the child in the short term, and society in the long run.  Doing that positive thing in a garden magnifies that impact a thousand-fold.


Plant a seed with a child today.  It will make you smile.


For more information on how to get involved, check out the following:

National Farm to School Network

Farm to School In Northwest Michigan

Michigan Land Use Institute

Grow Benzie



Jr Master Gardeners

American Horticultural Society


Serve – March ’14 Real Dirt

Planting Seeds for our Future

by Lillian Mahaney

“All of the flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today”

an Indian proverb

When you garden with children you are definitely planting the seeds for our future gardeners.  The Jr. Master Gardener program is designed to educate children in a manner that makes learning fun.  Jr. Master Gardener instructors can allow their creative side to flourish.  Last year there were two new Jr. Master Gardener classes and the creativity of activities was amazing.  Please read on for some of the highlights of these classes.

Karen McClatchey held classes at the Peninsula Community Library, in conjunction with Old Mission Peninsula School.  Karen began her classes in late January to run through mid April with 10 students.  A few of the comments from the children are:  “I LOVED Jr. Master Gardening.  I want to do it again this year.”  “I learned a lot and it was fun at the same time.”  “We did a lot.  I had to miss one day and I was sad because it was so much fun.”  “I helped my mother with the garden during the summer with all that I learned.”

Karen’s classes were one hour long and there was a hands-on project in each class.  Some of the projects were miniature landscapes, terrariums, potpourri, etc.  Karen’s children made the sweetest little ivy topiary for me for Valentine’s Day and I smile every time I go by it under my gro-lights.  Karen started her new classes this year on February 13th.  The wonderful quote at the beginning of the article was suggested by Karen.

Dorothy Batzer (assisted by Cyndi and Deb) held classes at Kaleva/Norman/Dickson Schools in Brethren.  The classes were part of the “Healthy Self” program sponsored by MSU and West Shore Medical Center.  Prior to the JRMG offering there were classes on nutrition education and physical activity.  After the JRMG progrem there were classes on hands-on cooking.

Dorothy also incorporated many projects including making paper hats and flowers, taste-testing sprouts, insects and flower designs on muslin for Mother’s Day, growing and planting seeds, etc.

When I have held classes some of my activities have been making lavender sachets, growing bean seeds, creating miniature landscapes, etc.  One of my favorite activities is to ask the children to pretend they are a fly and just narrowly escaped from a Venus Fly Trap.  I still smile when I recall one of the terrific stories and expect to see that little girl’s name on the cover of a best selling novel in years to come.

Another of my children’s favorite activities is singing and dancing to “The Water Cycle Boogie” and “F.B.I. (fungus, bacteria, invertebrates)” by the Banana Slug String Band.  I  turn on the CD player during the last 5-10 minutes of class while I cleaning up.  The moms have reported to me that the children also sing the songs in the car on the way home.  The Slugs are 4 fellows in California and they have a number of CDs on various themes.  You can listen to the songs either on Amazon or the Slugs website at

The next Jr. Master Gardener training class will be held on Monday, March 24th from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the Grand Traverse Government Center, 400 Boardman Avenue.  The center is just north of 8th Street on Boardman Avenue.  Please enter by the front doors and go downstairs to the cafeteria.  Please make reservations by March 17th either by emailing me at or calling 256-8844.  Email is usually the easiest way to reach me and I will send you a confirmation.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the Jr. Master Gardener program.   The program is sponsored by MSUE and 4-H in the various counties.  I can pretty much guarantee that you will have fun and rediscover your “inner child gardener”.

Serve – Nov ’13 Real Dirt


Gardening with Children: A Labor of Love

Gardening with Children: A Labor of Love

Nancy Denison

I began to volunteer at the Children’s Garden two summers ago and I was hooked!  Susan Kuschell and the Friendly Garden Club have done a fine job of designing and developing the gardens.  During the summer, community groups take a small plot within the planting area, plant and care for their veggies and herbs and then harvest either for themselves or to donate to various food distributors.  It is so much fun to see some of my former students who come with the Civic Center day camp and to help all of the students learn about soil, seeds, and weeds.  Then, there is the thrill when things actually grow and can be picked, washed and sampled. It is a joy to witness their excitement.

I was also a mentor this year for a small group of girls who had a planting plot. We weeded, selected seeds and plants in the spring and then enjoyed the harvest from mid-summer on.  Cooperation, discovery, dirty hands, and reflection abound from all. I know those who volunteer and help out in the Children’s Garden are growing lifelong gardeners every summer.

In mid August, Susan organizes a fun evening to showcase the gardens for families and other community members. Songs, sharing, homemade pizzas and certificates of participation are part of the activities.  This is truly a labor of love for all involved!

New Board Positions!

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Open board positions!

Open board positions!

The MGANM board is pleased to roll out several new board positions in the interests of better sharing the volunteer work load and in having more energy (and fun!) at the board level. There are three new full board positions, and four advisory positions (non-voting, board meeting attendance optional but encouraged). Most of these positions will work by supporting existing committees or groups of volunteers in their efforts, though as first year positions you’ll also have freedom to define your roles. Please contact a board member or our coordinator, Matthew Bertrand, with any questions about these positions.

If you’re interested in fulfilling any of the positions or would like to nominate someone, please try to let us know by Sunday, November 3rd. We expect to hold elections at the annual Volunteer Celebration on November 6th.

Position Descriptions

  1. President – The President will preside over meetings of the general membership and the Executive Committee. The President will oversee the enforcement of the by-laws and policies as adopted by the membership of the Association.
  2. Vice President – In the absence of the President, Secretary, or Treasurer, the Vice President shall assume the duties of said office. The Vice President shall oversee all standing committees.
  3. Secretary – The Secretary shall take minutes of all Executive Committee and Association general meetings. At each meeting the secretary will have published or will read the minutes of the previous meeting. A copy of all minutes will be forwarded to the Advisor at the MSUE Leelanau County office. The secretary shall be responsible for maintaining complete records of all Association minutes attendance and correspondence.
  4. Treasurer – The Treasurer will be responsible for managing all Association income, expenses and bank accounts(s) according to the policies and procedures of the Association.
  5. Education/Events – Chairperson will be responsible for the initiation, planning and public relations for educational and other events.
  6. Communications – The Chairperson will be responsible for all internal communication amongst MGANM members and external communications with the public, including the Real Dirt newsletter, the Association website, and other opportunities as they arise.
  7. Development – The Chairperson will be responsible for strategies leading to increased membership and funding opportunities for MGANM and its activities
  8. Advisor – Master Gardener Coordinator – The Advisor will serve as a non-voting, ex- officio member. The Advisor is responsible for assuring the Association carries out its stated purpose in accordance with the educational mission and policies of Leelanau County MSUE and the Michigan Master Gardener program. The Advisor is the liaison between the Association and MSUE.
  9. Advisor – Environmental Stewardship — The Advisor will serve as a non-voting member. The Advisor will serve as a community liaison between the board, association members, community partners, and the public with the goal of improving Environmental Stewardship outcomes in the community.
  10. Advisor – Youth Gardening — The Advisor will serve as a non-voting member. The Advisor will serve as a community liaison between the board, association members, community partners, and the public with the goal of increasing support for Youth Gardening activities in the community.
  11. Advisor – Food Security and Hunger — The Advisor will serve as a non-voting member. The Advisor will serve as a community liaison between the board, association members, community partners, and the public with the goal of meeting community needs for Food Security and Hunger.
  12. Advisor – Beautification/Social Benefit — The Advisor will serve as a non-voting member. The Advisor will serve as a community liaison between the board, association members, community partners, and the public in order to meet community goals for Beautification and other Social Benefits that our gardens provide.

Serve – Sep ’13 Real Dirt


Learning About Grandma’s World
The Real Dirt is Doing Real Well

Learning About Grandma’s World

Sue Sensenbaugh-Padgett

Grandma's books pic by Sue S-P

My first gardening experience was the “chore” of weeding. Gardening meant sweat and dirt but it also meant spending time with Grandma. When Grandma passed away, I dug into gardening as a way to stay connected to her. In a search for more information on gardening, I scoured Grandma’s book shelves, but found the real treasure in her attic. What I found was a series of garden primers for beginners from 1937. I never imagined what I would learn from these books.

Instead of learning about gardening, I learned about society when Grandma was growing-up. This series was written by Cecile Hulse Matschat and consist of five slim volumes: How to Make a Garden, Planning the Home Grounds, Bulbs and House Plants, Annuals and Perennials, and Shrubs and Trees. The similarities are interesting but unremarkable. Advice such as “plan ahead for your purpose” and the “growth of the plants”, “test the soil” and “use the right plant in the right place” ring with the sound of Master Gardening classes. Plant anatomy and physiology remain unchanged as does the admonition to use pesticides according to the label.

The truly interesting aspects of the series came in the differences. For books directed at beginners, there was a high level of assumed plant knowledge. Fertilizers were very different. Today we would use the term organic or green for the humus based fertilizers but Matschat simply refers to the family compost pile. She does refer to the more expensive artificial powders that are “… of little long term use.” This points to the pre-WWII period, a time when artificial nitrogen was still expensive. Also the spray Matschat recommends contains lead. Purchasing seedling or even seed starting soils is referred to as an “…expensive indulgence available in a few areas.” The largest change is seen in the advice on planning a home grounds. The list of items needing space include coal wagons, grocery deliveries, compost area, garbage incinerator, and laundry area (outdoor washing and clothes lines). Even an area for chickens must be added. Today we don’t have coal and grocery deliveries and trash is sent to the landfill. But compost piles and chickens are reappearing. The changes aren’t linear but more of a cycle. In the end, I found so much in these books to help me form a deeper connection to Grandma.

The Real Dirt is Doing Real Well

Whitney Miller

We, at The Real Dirt, would like to thank all of our readers for your patience and understanding while we’ve been undergoing our changes. Although at times it has not been easy, the end result is exactly what we had envisioned: an interactive, fun, and fresh newsletter.

During our transition, we have been keeping a close eye on the statistics that are offered through this new platform, and boy are we excited! On average, we have almost triple the amount of people actually reading our newsletter than industry average for non-profit organizations. We also are more than quadrupling the average number of people who click on an article to read further. WOW! Having such great reader interaction with our newsletter keeps us excited for each publication, so keep it up!

We are also looking forward to growing our audience. Please feel free to forward our newsletters to your friends. At the bottom of each newsletter there is a button labeled “Forward to a Friend”. If you use that, then we know that you enjoyed the information enough to share it (it does not tell us to whom it was sent). New readers can sign up to receive our publications on their own by using the “Update Preferences” link at the bottom, and current readers can “Unsubscribe” if they wish. If you use Facebook, you can “like” each individual publication and comment on them. We would love to hear your feedback via Facebook!

Finally, we always welcome your comments, suggestions, and photos. We strive to use any reader-submitted photos in our publications, so you could be a “published photographer”!

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