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Master Gardeners to host open house at Northland Arboretum

The Crow Wing County Master Gardeners gave an update to the county board members and invited the board to their open house at the Northland Arboretum on Wednesday, Aug. 17 at 11 a.m.

Man talks at a podium in front of the county board members
Dan Lee, a Master Gardener, presents in front of county board on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2022.
Sara Guymon / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — Many people think food comes only from a grocery store, but the Crow Wing County Master Gardeners are working on educating the community about gardening and freshly grown produce.

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The Crow Wing County Master Gardeners presented an update on how the organization is expanding and improving during the Tuesday, Aug. 16, County Board committee of the whole meeting. There were four presenters in attendance — two master gardeners, the volunteer coordinator, and the regional director of University of Minnesota Extension — to speak on how the master gardeners are growing.

Master gardeners in Crow Wing County are affiliated with the University of Minnesota and have 60 members and 10 interns. They have logged over 2,500 hours of volunteer work so far this year.

“All of our volunteers are committed to the University of Minnesota Extension guidelines to a minimum of 20 hours of volunteer service a year,” said Brittany Goerges, the master gardener volunteer coordinator. “Interns have to do 50 (hours) but most do much more.”

These hours of hard work are dedicated to getting the community more involved with nature through community outreach programs, gardening education for all ages, garden maintenance at the Northland Arboretum and many more specialized programs to help the community.

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The master gardeners invited the community to see what they have accomplished this summer at an open house at 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17, at the Northland Arboretum. Master gardeners will guide tours of the Giving Gardens and educational garden areas to view the produce and meet youth and adult students. There will also be short walking tours of other gardens and light refreshments will follow at the Visitor Center.

One of the larger projects master gardeners worked on was a bedding plant project. A total of 450 tomato, pepper, and eggplant seeds and lettuce seeds to fill 25 bowls were planted and grown for use in other projects.

The Gardening 101 classes offered at the Northland Arboretum is one of the programs using those plants. There are two variations of the classes — one for youths and one for adults. The youth class has 14 students this year with ages ranging from 8-15 years old. The adult class has a wide variety of attendees who varied in age and experience. The 17 students were between the ages of 16 and 80 or older. Some were novices at gardening while others were more experienced.

“Each one of those students comes in for about a half an hour in person in the Arboretum and then we go out to the gardens and they actually have planted their own gardens,” said Dan Lee, a master gardener, while describing the youth class. “The instructors do a lot of things that build a team environment, that gives them confidence in gardening skills, teach them a little bit about the importance of agriculture in our society. These students walk away knowing that not all food comes from the grocery store, but it can come from their own backyard garden.”

The master gardeners also work with organizations as well as individuals. One notable connection the master gardeners have is the one they share with the arboretum. Northland Arboretum hosts the gardeners for educational classes and the gardeners also help with renovations to the memorial and gazebo gardens.

At the Northland Arboretum, the Master Gardeners also have a Giving Garden. These are gardens in which the main goal is to grow food to donate to organizations like the Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen and the Salvation Army. Twenty-two master gardeners work on these gardens producing food. Their goal for 2022 is to produce and donate 2,000 pounds of food. In 2021, they donated about 3,340 pounds of produce.

If you go

  • What: Master gardeners open house and garden tour.
  • When: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17.
  • Where: Northland Arboretum.

SARA GUYMON, Brainerd Dispatch, staff writer, may be reached at 218-855-5851 or sara.guymon@brainerddispatch.com

Sara Guymon recently joined the Brainerd Dispatch as a staff writer.
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