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Marcie Katz

The President’s Corner — What is a Master Gardener?

By Beet 2023 02 February

I am sure after reading the title of this article, that a word or idea comes directly to mind about what a Master Gardener is to you. To many, it refers to a knowledge of gardening, the how and why of being a successful gardener, forever learning. To others it invokes pouring over seed catalogs, looking for just the right seeds to raise that special heritage tomato or long-forgotten bean. Then there are those who look to improve their environment and the planet by planting natives in their home landscape to benefit the local wildlife and insects, and to support their food chain.

Or maybe it is just about joining a group of like-minded people, working side-by-side in the Demonstration Gardens, greenhouses or on special projects. We are a community. We come from different walks of life, different careers and sometimes different states or countries! Gardening is what brings us together, and whether we are novices or licensed pros, we enjoy each other’s company in doing what we love.

Gardening is something we can do our whole life. Whether a sunny windowsill full of house plants, a big yard, or a small patio, it is someplace to get our hands dirty and grow things. Gardens, like life, will wax and wane according to our responsibilities and constraints put upon us. When we are young and energetic, there are so many demands of running a home and career. As we age, we have the time, but physicality sometimes puts limits on us. We find ourselves in new roles as our needs and abilities change.

For many, taking the Master Gardener Program comes later in life; lucky are the ones who can be a part of it in their youth! For those of us that have some free time on our hands, however, there are other ways to be involved that don’t require heavy lifting or a strict schedule – you can be a Master Gardener Volunteer! Volunteering is the heart of our organization; it is what keeps the program going and serves the public by teaching the art and science of gardening for future generations.

In our Jackson County Master Gardener Association there are lots of ways to volunteer! Of course, not everyone wants to be the President or on the Board of Directors, but that is a great way to know what the organization is doing and have a say in its future.

If you don’t want anything quite that formal, join a Working Group that only meets once a month! There is a variety to choose from; find one that fits your interests or skills:

  • Gardens WG (Native Nursery, Practicum, Demonstration Gardens, grounds maintenance, garden enhancement)
  • Marketing and Technology WG (Garden Beet, Facebook, Mailchimps, YouTube, the JCMGA website, advertising, photography and videography)
  • Member Services (Directory, Member registration, condolences)
  • Community Outreach WG (Garden/School Grants, Scholarships, Speakers Bureau, Community Gardens, Diversity, Equality and Inclusion)
  • Fundraising WG (special events, incoming grants)
  • Practicum (mentors, Garden Buddies)

Last but not least, the Plant Clinic is where your help would be much appreciated. In addition to all that fun we aways need extra bodies for the once-a-year events such as Spring Garden Fair (yes, it’s back!), Fall Festival (new, coming this fall!) and Winter Dreams, Summer Gardens (held virtually, virtual host volunteers needed). Or, how about just coming out to help for a few hours at the Picnic, Graduation, or on Wednesdays, March through October in the Demonstration Gardens?

YOU, the JCMGA members, are the Master Gardener Body and your volunteerism is its life blood! Please come and donate some of your free time, be around people who share the same interests and have fun. It’s good for you and benefits the community. No matter your level of involvement – whether online in zoom meetings making decisions, on committees, or out on the grounds getting dirty – we need and appreciate all of you!


The President’s Corner

By Beet 2023 01 January

Welcome 2023!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday Season and that you all were able to spend quality time with family and friends, especially those that you may not have been able to see during these last several years.

It has been a very fun time of year, what with the Gingerbread Jubilee, Festival of Trees, and the Soroptimist Holiday Home Tour all back in person after the long COVID-19 hiatus (yes, I go to them all)! Yummy Christmas luncheons and Open Houses were again enjoyed, making this year’s season feel warm, cozy and most certainly helped to put one in the holiday Spirit. (The eggnog and wine may have had something to do with that, too!)

I am very enthusiastic for this new year as your elected President!

We have slowly been coming out from under the umbrella of COVID-19 restrictions, each year doing a little more while allowing us to feel useful, productive and accomplished.

This past year on campus, we installed a water catchment system and caged water tanks to allow us to remain sustainable during the drought. The Native Nursery was enlarged and joined with the Propagation Nursery. Practicum moved from the condemned COH (Creepy Old House) into new storage PODS. Master Gardeners had five plant sales, a High Tea Membership Drive, Yard Sale, Annual Picnic with Awards, catered the Graduation Dinner, had a Holiday Bazaar, and produced a very successful 4-day on-line Winter Dreams Summer Gardens Symposium!

We learned we can make money while working within a limited budget, albeit with fewer volunteers, and still take care of the needs of the Association!

It takes a village and Master Gardeners have risen to the task of helping where needed.  Members got our message out there by teaching through OLLI, Winter Dreams Summer Gardens, the Speakers Bureau, at Garden Clubs and on Jefferson Public Radio.

While we were able to hold our first hybrid Board Meeting and a Retreat, we are happy to be back again (somewhat) in person and will have hybrid meetings once a quarter in the new year!

We are starting out knowing that the 2023 Master Gardener Program will have a full-size class of more than 50 students, with Practicum returning and a new Coordinator! Meeting in Greenhouse 1 as a classroom, they will focus on growing vegetables and herbs for a Spring Plant Sale. We might even ask some venders to join us on campus for a slightly modified Spring Garden Fair. I’d like to see a collaboration between the other programs at the Extension – inviting them to join us in some events, have Garden Tours in our beautiful Demonstration Gardens and hopefully this fall, have a Harvest Fair with winter vegetable starts as well as items to sell made from our lavender harvest.

We have a terrific group as the new Board of Directors and I am looking forward to seeing what wonderful things we can do in the coming year. So, raise a glass (mine is always half full) in a toast to JCMGA 2023 and come join the party!


Our Unsung Hero —  Doug Kirby, Keeper of the Sacred Grounds

By Beet 2022 11 November

That title was bequeathed to him as an Award at the Annual JCMGA Picnic last August in recognition for all he does for the Demonstration Gardens and grounds. It was a small token of appreciation for someone who has such a huge sense of volunteerism.

Most people who come out to the Extension Gardens see Doug in his Perennial Garden, digging, or on his hands and knees hand-pulling weeds out of the pathway. If you stop to admire his beautiful garden, he will engage you in wonderful “garden talk,” telling you about the latest thing in bloom or how he is squirrel proofing his plants.

His amazing garden is accomplishment enough – he works out there almost daily – but Doug is also an integral part of JCMGA because he manages and maintains the grounds. Every place we plant requires irrigation and he is the behind-the-scenes person who monitors the well and repairs all the irrigation systems for all the gardens. He often takes on big projects that require physical hard work or refitting gardens with an improved system. In addition, he is the person responsible for all the compost and coir bins being full, as well as those with D/G and wood chips. All the gardeners depend on him; if you have a problem, he happily stops what he is doing and goes to check it out with you.

As if that isn’t enough, Doug’s future projects include completely emptying out the tool shed and re-organizing while putting tools back, replacing the irrigation controller, finish building a gate in the new wheelbarrow area and mounting shelves to the walls.

When there is an all hands workday, Doug is always there, no matter what the project, from sanding benches to blackberry removal, always willing to give to the group.

All of us should follow his example in volunteerism. One way to do that is to come down and help at the next workday when the wheelbarrow area will be completed. That will also help Doug out by making a locked storage area for supplies.

That is Doug Kirby, Jack-of-All-Trades, Gentleman Gardener, and all-around great guy who we are very lucky to know and call our friend!


The Picnic is Back with Master Gardener Awards!

By Beet 2022 09 September

After two long years, the annual Master Gardener August Picnic is back! Although our numbers were not what they were before COVID-19, we had a wonderful turn out of about 50 people. The auditorium was beautifully decorated with tablecloths, burlap runners and Mason jars of flowers by the Picnic Committee that included Sandy Hammond, Marcie Katz, Sandy Hansen, Lynn Kunstman, Colet Allen, Regula Pepi, Lucy Pylkki, Pam Hillers and Margaret Saydah. The menu was delicious BBQ burgers with all the fixins, and a wonderful variety of side dishes and desserts brought by the attendees. It was a joyful get together with old acquaintances and students from 2020 and the 2022 classes who finally got to meet and mingle with our newly graduated as well as experienced Master Gardeners.

Awards were the key focus of the event, with a BIG congratulations going to Jane Moyer (although she was not in attendance) who received the 2022 State Master Gardener of the Year Award, selected over nominees from all the MG Chapters in Oregon! Jane’s service and dedication to our organization for the last 17 years is impressive and her Practicum Curriculum has been copied and shared throughout the state. Jane is currently on the committee to select the new coordinator for the 2023 MG class and to plan next year’s Practicum.

Jackson County Master Gardeners awarded Lynn Kunstman as the 2022 Master Gardener of the Year for her hard work in keeping the Native Nursery functioning through the hard times and bringing in much needed revenue from plant “pop up” sales. Her passion for spreading the word about native plants emphasizes a key objective for Master Gardeners as we go forward into a time of insect apocalypse and climate change. You can hear her each week on Jefferson Public Radio as she answers listeners’ gardening questions. Lynn also taught a class on native plants at the recent OMGA Mini College and is always willing to answer questions about native plants. You can find her working diligently in the Native Nursery.

Sean Cawley (2020 class) was awarded the JCMGA Behind the Scenes Master Gardener for his enthusiastic and hard-working management of the Vegetable Garden (formerly the Children’s Garden) and the Orchards! He has single-handedly pruned all the apple, pear and peach trees in the big orchard as well as pruning the Fig Grove down to the ground last fall to give it a revitalization! Those interested in cover crops, companion planting and the various other experiments going on, should visit his garden. Sean also taught several outdoor classes to the 2022 students and helps with grounds maintenance in assisting Doug Kirby. Sean and Lynn were both instrumental in getting the new Water Containment System in and preparing us for the future.

The Award Nominations Committee also wanted to acknowledge several others who have contributed to the organization throughout the hard times we have experienced in the last few years and presented awards to the unsuspecting recipients.

Sandy Hammond is “Captain of Fortune” for her tireless delivery of Garden Guides from Ashland to Grants Pass, the sales of which have kept us in the black and for her work as Chair of the Fundraising WG!

Doug Kirby is “Keeper of the Sacred Grounds” for his dedication to maintaining the irrigation system, ordering soils and amendments, working on the weekend fixing the pump piping, and always being there to help on volunteer workdays, sanding benches, moving beds, cutting blackberries, etc., all while he keeps the beautiful Perennial Garden a delight to behold.

Last, but not least, is Ronnie Budge, who was awarded the title of “Herald” for her active role in Chairing the Community Outreach WG while living in Seattle! With the goal of Diversify, Integration and Equality she has led her group on a renewal of the Speakers Bureau, Community Garden projects and School Scholarships. Ronnie was also made a Lifetime Member of the JCMGA for her 11 years of service, which included years as mentor in the Practicum. As President, she led us through the year of COVID-19 in 2020; she kept us together while learning how to navigate and conduct board business meetings on (the dreaded) Zoom!

Congratulations to all the Award recipients!

To those who have been on the fence, please stay involved. We are making our way back to “normal” with many future events planned.

I hope to see you all at the Graduation in October. Come and meet the new Master Gardeners and let’s get ready for a fantastic 2023!

Call for Board Nominations for next year’s Board of Directors

By Beet 2022 08 August

 JCMGA Board needs YOU!

We are looking for new, and experienced members of Master Gardeners to serve on our JCMGA Board for 2023.  Could that be YOU, or someone you could recommend?

Please consider becoming a board member.  The Board is the governing body of the association.  It adopts the budget, sets policy, and generally oversees the present and future direction of JCMGA.  Meetings are held the second Friday of each month.  Most board members also sit on one or more of the association’s working groups and are among the first to volunteer when jobs need to be done! Your input is important, and fresh perspectives on how we move forward is the key to our success.


The following positions are to be elected this fall:  Vice-president/president-elect, membership secretary, OMGA representative, and five members-at-large.  Nominees must be members of JCMGA in good standing, and be willing to serve if elected. Let your voice be heard, help plan for the future of Jackson County Master Gardener Association!


If you have questions, contact Marcie Katz, Vice-President at

 Deadline for nominations is SEPTEMBER 1!         


Par-Tea in the Gardens

By Beet 2022 05 May


Spring is in the air, calling us into our gardens to enjoy the rebirth of the land! Just like at home, the Demonstration Gardens at the Extension are in bloom, and they long for visitors to view them and enjoy their beauty.

In the past two years, we have sheltered in place, obliged to wear masks, and stand six feet apart when in public. Through that process, we lost the connections that we previously had to people and places and the Jackson County Master Gardener Association has been especially hard hit. In those two years, we lost over half of our membership!

Well, we are inviting you back! Back to view the beautiful gardens, back to see, meet, and reconnect with other Master Gardeners, have tea, stroll, and see what changes have evolved on the Extension grounds. The Member Services Working Group, along with the Fundraising Working Group, Garden Enhancement Committee, and GEMS, would like to invite you, the Members and past Members of JCMGA to an afternoon “Par-Tea in the Gardens” taking place in the Arboretum on Saturday, June 18, from 1-4 pm. This is an “open house” event, so come and go when you please, tour the grounds, and then finish off with iced beverages, hot tea, and an assortment of tea sandwiches and desserts. Sit in the shade of the Arboretum to renew old friendships, make new ones, and catch up with what’s happening. So, come one and all, join in the fun and hopefully become involved again in our wonderful association!

Look for the JCMGA Mailchimp to arrive in your mailbox coming soon. A RSVP is encouraged!

For any inquiries, please contact Carol Bogedain at or Marcie Katz at 

Due Annual Master Gardener of the Year Award Nominations

By Beet 2022 04 April

Due Soon!

Nominate Someone for the Annual Master Gardener of the Year Award

It’s that time again to recognize those Master Gardeners who have gone above and beyond in their outstanding dedication and service to the Jackson County Master Gardener Association and their support of sustainable gardening to benefit all of Jackson County and the Oregon Master Gardener Program. It has been a trying two years with the limitations put upon us from COVID-19 restrictions, but there were those who persevered to keep the Association running and gardens growing, problem-solved and continued to input our positive influence into the community.

Describe your nominee’s contributions in education and outreach, such as work in the Plant Clinic, teaching Zoom or OLLI classes, serving as a mentor, and planning and/or organizing a major project or activity. Include any leadership roles they have held and if their work has had an impact beyond the borders of Jackson County!

The annual Behind the Scenes Award also recognizes individuals for their service at the county or statewide level. They are Master Gardeners who work quietly and unselfishly in ways that may not be noticed by everyone, such as keeping records, contacting sponsors/donors or taking on projects and seeing them through to completion. In 200 words or less, describe your nominee’s activities as fully as you can with specific examples and e-mail your nominations to:

Marcie Katz at 

Nominations are due by April 20th.