According to Dave Graper, SDSU Master Gardener program coordinator, in an article in Growing South Dakota, “the concept of Master Gardeners dates back to 1972, when there was a high public demand for horticultural information for local Extension offices in Washington state.
“The successful program in Washington provided a model, which was eventually replicated in all 50 states, the district of Columbia, nine Canadian providences, and South Korea. It is estimated that there are nearly 100,000 active participants in the Master Gardener program nationwide.”
The South Dakota MG organization has over 400 members, in 17 different clubs, and volunteers over 10,000 hours annually. In that same article some of the SDSU Master Gardener Projects were listed. They included:
• Answering the public gardening questions
• Providing educational programs for the public
• Increasing food security, creating safe green spaces
• Facilitating gardening projects at schools, libraries, and other public community sites
• Beautification projects
• Gardening therapy programs with seniors to maintain their physical and mental health
• School garden programs to promote science awareness among kids
• Display gardens to protect pollinators, combat invasive species, and encouraging gardening
• Using gardening to teach life skills to the incarcerated
This year the Brookings Area Master Gardeners (BAMG) are making an impact and adding to this list by opening a Garden School and Demonstration Garden at the Brookings Community Gardens. The project is done in collaboration with the Brookings Park and Recreation Department.
The target audience is young families wanting to begin to garden. The class offered this year at Garden School is “Beginning Vegetable Gardening.” The class is based on an SDSU Extension Publication “Vegetable Gardening in South Dakota.” During the first three weekends in June, class participants are prepping and planning a garden location, planting vegetables, and maintaining the demonstration gardens.
There will be six demonstration plots developed for the class:
1- Traditional in-ground gardening;
2- Raised-bed gardening;
3- Elevated raised-bed gardening;
4- Container gardening;
6- High-olume gardening.
Interested parties can still register online through the Brookings Park and Recreation Department. As we say in BAMG – “Grow Something.” Come join us this summer at the Brookings Community Gardens.
Brookings Area Master Gardener Craig Pahl