At the end of 2019, 21 Master Gardener Volunteers reported 1,095 hours of volunteer service for an estimated value of $26,280 (Independent Sector). They also reported 474 hours of continuing education and reached an estimated 1,290 individuals with various outreach projects.
The annual Spring Plant Sale, a major fund-raiser for Waupaca County Master Gardener Volunteers (WCMGV’s), was held in conjunction with the Weyauwega Fire Department Chicken BBQ. Some purchased plants along with many donated plants from member gardens were sold. This year the WCMGV were able to dig plants from a non-members garden who was selling their home. This greatly increased the size of the plant sale. This year the educational display for the plant sale was on jumping worms with picture displayed and folders available for hand out. Along with plants, the sale includes garden art, books and other related items for sale. This was the first plant sale after missing last year due to the late spring snowstorm that dumped nearly three feet of snow in mid-April, 2018.
The Garden Walk and Art Stroll was held the 4th Saturday in June. This year it featured five gardens from the Waupaca Area. There were two home gardens, a vineyard and two small public gardens. The two public gardens were small pocket parks in the city of Waupaca. It was amazing to see the amount and variety of plants in these small garden gardens. One of the gardens was connected to a recently restored historical building and reflected the character of the building. Each garden sight had either an artist demonstrating their talent or a musician playing music during the walk. This is the other WCMGV annual fundraiser. Educational handouts are available for those touring the garden related to what they can learn at each garden site.
Petals of Honor project is a new program organized by the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King giving organizations in the area opportunity to adopt an existing flower bed on the grounds of the Veterans Home to care for it during the growing season. The bed that adopted by the WCMGVs is located outside one of the residence halls. Through cleaning the garden and planting, the WCMGVs have been able to interact with the residents and spend time with them. The veterans gave suggestions on what they would like to see in the bed and are developing a sense of ownership in the flowerbed.
Educating adults. The WCMGV provide several opportunities for adults in the area to learn about gardening tips and technique during the year. Several of our meeting monthly meetings are open to the public with guest speakers on a variety of topics. An information booth is set up during the Home show in Waupaca each spring where the public can learn about Master Gardener programs and how to become involved. This year several displays were also used to provide information on different areas such as tool care and jumping worms. All projects and programs have an education component, even maintaining flowerbeds by identifying all the plants.
Education of youth is very important to the WCMGVs. For twenty-four years a children’s garden has been in existence in a park in New London. As many as thirty children participate each year learning basic gardening skills and how to use the food they grow. Some members of WCMG are also 4-H leaders and interact with 4-H members throughout the year at club meetings and the state 4-H Plant and Soil Science Day.
WCMGVs also work with adults and children during the Waupaca County Fair each August teaching them about gardening and answering questions. WCMG members help with the entry of plant and soil science projects, houseplants and flower exhibits, both for Junior fair and Open Class. They also offer assistance in the Judging and help maintain the entry displays for public viewing throughout the five-day event. An information booth with materials about the Master Gardener program is also setup in the open class building during the fair. This year the theme of the booth was on container gardening.