For the past 6 years Village Gardens has been partnering with the Oregon State University Extension. Many community members have a big desire to start gardening but don’t, do tolack of knowledge or fear of killing all their plants and seeds. We have been able to offer the amazing educational opportunity of 11 weeks of intense gardening training through OSU’s Master Gardener Program . All Master Gardener classes are given by experts in the field and most if not all have PHD’s in their respective fields. After the 11 weeks of training, community members are then required to return to the Village Gardens’ urban garden sites and support new gardeners by sharing the knowledge that they learned during the course.
The Master Gardener Training is not only an opportunity to learn more about plants, but it also is the perfect environment for community members to branch out and get to know other like minded citizens who have similar passions for growing plants and vegetables. This is where the magic starts to bubble. Community members’ skills and confidence grow like a tomato plant in late July. Connections are made, friendships are cultivated and unity is palpable. All of this has been supported by the OSU Extension. Their generosity has been so impressive that the entire 11 week series of training has been provided free to Village Gardens’ participants. This has been by far one of the most generous acts of support we have had at Village Gardens. For one individual to attend the training’s, the costs is around $400 dollars.
This year we have 5 participants who are comprised from two different Portland communities. Trish has been a Seeds of Harmony Garden Leader for 2+ years and for the first time is taking the Master Gardener Class. Jean has been working with Village Gardens planning and designing the new Market Gardening project, where 3-5 families will be growing on a 1/4 acre located on Sauvie Island. Stephanie, Mary, and Kathy are all new gardeners from the newest Village Gardens Community Garden, Unthank Eliot Memorial Garden. These 3 women have been carpooling and then holding study hours during the week to practice for the tests and review the material.
This really sums up why the Master Gardener training is so much more than garden education. It is about more than growing red tomatoes, or greening the grass. For Village Gardens’ participants the training has provided an opportunity to grow connections and build community through shared experiences. The knowledge and resources that are gleaned during the trainings last for decades back in the community gardens. We have gardeners who participated in the OSU Master Gardener training 6 years ago and are still leading workshops on invasive weeds and how to safely remove them, and others who are training new gardeners on the art of composting.
From all of us at Village Gardens we thank you Oregon State University Extension and a specific thank you and gratitude to Mr. Weston Miller who has made this possible.