The Colorado Master Gardener Program: Planting Gardens, Growing People
The Colorado Master Gardener Program
in Boulder County
You’ll find Colorado Master Gardeners answering questions on everything from powdery mildew to aphid damage at places like McGuckin, Home Depot and popular greenhouses around Boulder County in the spring and summer. Those clinics represent only one portion of the work these garden gurus put into educating and enriching the lives of Boulder County residents. For more than 35 years, the Colorado Master Gardener Program has worked to match the skills and interest of its members with those in the community. Around 230 Colorado Master Gardeners volunteer by mentoring, teaching classes, writing articles, answering questions at demonstration sites and answering questions by phone or in person.
The Boulder County Jail Project - Since 1995, Colorado Master Gardeners have been mentoring inmates at a 1-acre food production garden at the Boulder County Jail. The garden provides fresh vegetables and fruit for the jail kitchen as well as for Community Food Share. Drip systems, compost, and water-wise techniques ensure that this large-scale garden has a low impact on natural resources. Inmates learn life skills by caring for plants.
Vegetable Gardening Email Newsletter - In response to requests for monthly updates, Colorado Master Gardeners provide tips and timely advice on vegetable gardening in this monthly newsletter delivered right into subscribers’ email. There’s no fee for this information; sign up to receive your newsletter by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Head Start family gardens - Families in the Head Start program receive a season-long CMG mentor to help them learn how to grow their own food. To get the families off to gardening success, Colorado Master Gardeners start from the ground up, teaching tilling, planting, care and harvesting. “Jo was amazing. She helped tell us what would grow best where, and when we had a problem with a tomato plant, we called and she came right out. Our garden is thriving because of her," says Head Start parent Noemi Contreras. In national recognition, the program received the 2012 Achievement Award from the National Associations of Counties.
Other Outreach Activities
- Staffing the Colorado Master Gardener desk at the Boulder County Extension Office
- Staffing informational clinics at nurseries and garden centers on weekends
- Mentoring youth in elementary school gardening programs
- Writing newspaper articles
- Teaching gardening classes
- Mentoring gardening projects with youth and special needs populations
- Longmont Symphony Guild Tour
- Carriage House Garden
- Diagnostics team
- Demonstration Garden
- ProGreen Expo
- Vegetable email writers
What else is going on?
- Carol O'Meara reaches out to everyone from beginner gardener new to the state, to experienced gurus with questions with her blog, Gardening After Five. Both her blog and her columns in various local papers educate people about everything from harvesting sunflower seeds to dealing with aphids.
- CSU Extension's Veggie Newsletter goes out to avid veggie gardeners and offers suggestions for everything from when to harvest to what plants work best in our heavy clay soil.
Education for CMG Volunteers
- CMG Basic Training is offered by a multi-county partnership with Boulder, Adams, Larimer and Weld Counties. Boulder County offer both a daytime and evening course during the year.
- The daytime course is held on Fridays, January through March at The Ranch (Larimer County Fairgrounds in Loveland)
- The evening course is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, September to December in Boulder.
- Boulder County Extension offers CMG volunteers a variety of continuing education opportunities.
- Special diagnostic training.
- Local training sessions focus on such topics as tomatoes, edible herbs, edible flowers, fruit tree pruning, fertilizers and soil amendments, plant pathology, and soil testing.
- Multi-county and regional educational opportunities include CMG Plus Classes, ProGreen, CSU Short Course and CSU Field Days.
- CMG volunteers: 175
- Annual volunteer hours: 4,000
- Annual value of volunteer time: $88,000
CSU Extension, Boulder County Office
9595 Nelson Road
Longmont, CO 80501-6359
Boulder CMG Help Line: 303-678-6388
- Carol O'Meara, Extension Agent: Horticulture/Entomology at 303-678-6377