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Lynn Kunstman: A teacher finds her tribe

By January 8, 2021Beet January 2021

By Maxine Cass

Master Gardener 2015

“Keep ’em flying!” Lynn Kunstman, Jackson County Master Gardener™ Association President, signs her emails. Cheering on Monarch butterflies mirrors her ardent approach to gardening.

Raised in Lafayette, California, Lynn has a B.S. in Wildlife Management from Humboldt State University and a Science Education M.S. from SOU. As a special education and science teacher for Talent and Ashland Middle Schools, she “launched a new generation of scientists.”

Now, she says, “In Master Gardeners, I have found my tribe! There is nothing more satisfying than working with a group of like-minded people toward a common goal. Because we teachers cannot turn that teaching ‘thing’ off, it is a perfect match for me. I love instructing new Master Gardeners in class and in the Practicum. It feels like I am having a positive impact on people’s lives.”

The gardener who loved to teach future scientists started early. “One of my earliest memories is of covering Indian corn ears with paper bags to do pollination experiments with my father and then my mother teaching me how to prune roses. My roses remind me of my mother’s rose garden when I was a child; my Meyer lemon tree of my father’s lemon tree.”

Lynn’s virtual guided tour of her Medford corner lot garden was featured in November’s Winter Dreams Summer Gardens abbreviated program.

She told the Garden Beet. “My front yard is certified as a Monarch Way Station, Pollinator Garden, and Wildlife Habitat. I have 35 species of birds visiting this small area. I have put up signs for each of these certifications, so neighbors passing by and seeing my ‘messy yard’ can read and learn about the reasons it looks like it does.  I do not do fall clean-up, but wait until early spring, when the native bees emerge from the stalks, and the birds have cleaned the seeds from the flower heads.”

“The entire back yard is a food garden where we grow vegetables year-round and orchard, grape and berry crops in summer.”

“I’m a lazy gardener,” Lynn muses. “If it wants to grow there, let it; the leaves can wait until I need to move them in spring to plant; dandelions look pretty in the lawn to me. My garden looks like nature. There is nothing formal or controlled looking about it. My gardening style is no style at all. I am pretty haphazard and am constantly removing and planting plants. Currently, I have been removing non-natives and replacing them with natives, or allowing the natives to fill in the open spaces. I do NOT coddle my plants!”

Lynn became a Master Gardener in 2012. By 2014, she was a Practicum Mentor and later, appeared on the Master Gardener “In the Garden” television series. The Practicum Native Plants Nursery, with Lynn’s supervision, has contributed to popular native plant “pop-up” sales and she’s a regular gardening expert on JPR’s Jefferson Exchange.

In her spare time, JCMGA’s president gardens, preserves food, cooks, crochets, enjoys watercolor painting, reading, hiking and singing in her band, Ur Mom.