A brief history of the Master Gardener program

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You might be surprised to learn that Abraham Lincoln’s signing on a Senate bill in July 1862 set in motion actions and ideologies that would result in a nationwide program that included the master gardeners of the UC du Butte County.

The first half of 1862 was a busy year for Lincoln and the United States Congress. Our country had entered a brutal civil war a year ago when two bills were signed that would shape our nation in a way that is still relevant 160 years later. The first of these Congressional actions was the Homestead Act of 1862, enacted by Lincoln in April 1862. On its heels was the lesser known Morrill Act (also known as the Land-Grant College Act), which was passed. . just before the Independence Day celebrations of 1862, as they were at this fractured time in our history.

“The Real Dirt” is a chronicle of various local Master Gardeners who are among the Master Gardeners of UC Butte County.

Sponsored by Vermont Senator Justin Morrill, the Land-Grant College Act called for the donation of public land “to the various states and (territories) which can provide colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanical arts …” By this law The federal government has committed to granting each state 30,000 acres of public land, which has become the basis of our national system of state colleges and universities. It is important to recognize that the land of the country has been occupied by Native Americans for tens of thousands of years. In keeping with the prevailing worldview at the time, lands appropriated by the federal government were considered “public” and could be donated to individual states for beneficial use.

The Hatch Act of 1887 is also relevant to the history of the Master Gardener Program.

This act provided federal funding to state colleges that granted land to conduct basic and applied agricultural research in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture. The resulting agricultural experiment stations now exist in all 50 states. Congress continued to take an interest in the development of agriculture and supporting farmers in the United States by passing the Smith-Lever Act in 1914. This brought agricultural advisers directly into the field to teach improved farming practices to farmers. farmers through the Agricultural Extension Service, later becoming the Cooperative Extension. In order for farmers to have access to these new services, a county “farm office” had to be organized to request the assignment of a county extension advisor in partnership with USDA and Land-Grant College.

In California, the University of California at Berkeley was established under the name Land-Grant College. Today UC Berkeley, UC Riverside and our closest UC Davis carry on that legacy by housing the Agriculture and Natural Resources Division. The Cooperative Extension Specialists and Faculty of the Experimental Station are based on these three campuses and coordinate their educational efforts with the UC-funded Cooperative Extension Advisors. Fifty of California’s 58 counties support a UC Cooperative Extension Department.

The University of California Co-operative Extension County counselors are valuable resources who carry out outreach and education activities that encompass much more than crop development. In addition to plant science, pest management, and soil and water health, they oversee agricultural economics issues; livestock and natural resource management; nutrition, family and consumer sciences; and youth development – especially through the 4-H program.

Over time, as the reputation of the county extension programs and the Californian population grew, busy farm advisers increasingly found themselves answering home gardeners’ questions about plants, pests and problems. . The Master Gardener program was developed to help agricultural advisers disseminate information by training volunteers in the science of gardening and horticulture. This program was designed by David Gibby of the University of Washington Cooperative Extension. Gibby ran a pilot program in Tacoma, Washington in 1972.

Following its resounding success, the Master Gardeners were officially created, along with a rigorous curriculum and training program. The concept quickly spread to the United States and Canada. Every MG program in the United States is affiliated with a land grant university and UC Cooperative Extension county office.

In California, Riverside and Sacramento counties were the first to introduce Master Gardeners training and certification programs, starting in 1980. Since then, Certified Master Gardeners programs have been established in more than 50 counties in California. California.

In 2007, UCCE Butte County Agricultural Advisor Joseph Connell and Family and Consumer Science Advisor and County Director Susan Donohue identified a real need for a local MG program. In collaboration with UC Davis, the county, UCCE office in Oroville, the Butte County Farm, Home and 4-H Support Group, and three master gardeners trained elsewhere, Connell and Donohue have organized a local MG training program.

The MG training course was to be delivered by UC system counselors, specialists and teachers, and the Butte County UCCE appealed to register volunteers. In May 2008, the first group of master gardeners in Butte County completed their training. The 17-week weekly class training program is now offered every two years in Butte County. The next class of 2022 will be our eighth group of graduates.

The training of Master Gardener is thorough, complete and based on science. UC Master Gardeners’ mission is “to extend scientifically accurate, research-based knowledge and information to residents of California on home horticulture and pest management.” Budding Master Gardeners are trained in a wide variety of topics including (but not limited to): botany, irrigation, soils, plant pathology, entomology, integrated pest management, fire safety , plant identification, diagnostic techniques, trees, turf, irrigation and home vegetable gardening. The aim is to familiarize students with a wide range of relevant topics, not to create experts in each field. The training emphasizes research techniques, so GMs can help clients by knowing where to look for information that will help them identify and solve problems encountered by local home gardeners.

Butte County MGs have come a long way since the first batch of 21 volunteers graduated in 2008. Currently we have 94 active Master Gardeners, and a new batch of 24 will graduate next May. We have a gardening hotline that can be reached by phone at 530-538-7201 and by email at [email protected] Each spring and fall, we present a series of public education workshops covering a wide variety of topics. Our Living Lab program brings plant science to several local schools through school garden projects. We have created a useful and beautifully designed website that has a wealth of information and advice focused specifically on our local gardening environment, as well as details on our upcoming activities. https://ucanr.edu/sites/bcmg. Every month, we send out a newsletter to subscribers. Our Gardening Guide and Three-Year Garden Journal has information, tips, and note-taking space for each week of the year. You can find our awareness booths at local farmers’ markets and at garden-related events. Twice a year we have a plant sale, showcasing the plants that grow well here.

And on Friday, we have an article on a gardening topic in our Real Dirt section of this journal as well as on the Real Dirt blog on our website.

Perhaps our most ambitious and rewarding project to date is our demonstration garden at the Patrick Ranch Museum in Midway, south of Chico. We call it “A New California Garden – A Garden for Today: Sustainable, Functional, Beautiful”. Here, we’ve established several examples of the landscape, including gardening under the oak trees, edible landscaping, a space dedicated to the stars of Butte County (plants that have proven to thrive in our local environment), and a space cleverly. designed to organize outdoor lessons. The one acre area dedicated to the demonstration garden was made possible by the Patrick Ranch Museum.

The Master Gardeners of UC Butte County owe our creation to the foresight and hard work of Joseph Connell and Susan Donahue, Distinguished Co-operative Extension Advisors. Significant portions of the demonstration garden were made possible through funding from the Farm, Home and 4-H Support Group. And we owe our continued existence to our MG volunteers and to all the gardeners and plant lovers in our region. Thank you!

The Butte County UC Master Gardeners are part of the University of California cooperative extension system, serving our community in a variety of ways, including 4-H, agricultural counselors, and nutrition and education programs. ‘physical activity. To learn more about UCCE Butte County Master Gardeners and for help with gardening in our area, visit https://ucanr.edu/sites/bcmg/. If you have a gardening question or problem, call the hotline at 538-7201 or email [email protected]


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