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Reaching out in a pandemic

By February 9, 2021Beet February 2021

In the darker days of winter, spring can sometimes seem far away. But I have kale, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, mixed greens, peas and cilantro started in my greenhouse: a sign of hope. Gardeners, always planning ahead, are by nature a hopeful lot. Master Gardeners especially embody this, as we strive to share our knowledge and love of all things “garden” with our community. To that end, this month I would like to discuss how our JCMGA chapter is reaching out in the Rogue Valley, as we wait to be reunited post-shutdown.

Jackson County Master Gardeners mission statement is, “We Learn, Practice and Teach the Art and Science of Gardening in the Rogue Valley.” This has not been easy since last March. So much of what we do involves direct contact with the public and each other. However, what we have done ups our game with virtual learning and teaching. Our association disseminates information though Working Groups that focus the diverse programs we support. I will try to introduce one a month to you.

The Communications Working Group is responsible for the Garden Beet, our website, Facebook page, YouTube channel, Mailchimps, PSAs, a phone for gardening questions, and all things technology. Of particular focus right now are those first four communication “vehicles”. You are already reading and aware of the Garden Beet, but did you know that we encourage members, especially students, to write articles for the publication? Students can earn direct instructional hours (you need 10) for this. Hours include the time you take researching a topic. Students, if you want to do this, send your draft to Erika before submitting it to the Beet.

The JCMGA website is an excellent resource for members. It is currently getting a beautiful, updated look. If you visit the website and click on the tiny beet icon next to member login, you will link to the Garden Beet. I encourage you look at both the public and member sides. On the member side, you can link to the Volunteer Reporting System (VRS) to report your hours. It’s so important to do that every month! You can also place a classified ad for gardening-related items, get board information, view the JCMGA calendar, access the member directory, find student materials, and renew your membership. The public side has information about the Plant Clinic, Community Education classes, the community calendar, upcoming events, and links to other local organizations.

If you are a Facebook user, please visit our FB page. Be sure to like and follow it. Janice Alderman does a wonderful job posting important and timely garden information. One of the best ways to get information out to the public is to hit the share button, and share those posts either with the public or with your friends and gardening groups. I have several groups I am a member of, and I use the option “share to a group” to push JCMGA information to local garden clubs and others. This is a quick and easy way for us to encourage good science-based gardening practices near and far! Please make a habit of sharing this well-researched information.
Finally, we are in the process of building a YouTube channel. We will begin posting any virtual Community Education classes, as well as Zoom and Webinar presentations given by our local Master Gardeners. Currently, there are two videos from our “virtual Winter Dreams, Summer Gardens” event last November – a tour of Ronnie’s Vegetable Garden, and a tour of my (Lynn’s) Pollinator Garden. The channel will also link to other Master Gardener organizations around the state that are doing the same thing. You can help us immensely and get notifications of new content by visiting the site and clicking the subscribe button. I hope ALL members and students will subscribe as soon as possible.

Whew, well that was a lot! In keeping with my call to action, I hope each of you will help us reach local gardeners by utilizing and sharing these virtual vehicles with your friends, family and neighbors.

Garden for Life!