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By Ronnie Budge

 Master Gardener 2011

JCMGA President


The frustration was palpable. When businesses reopened in Oregon and we could, if we chose, again visit museums, art galleries, and other places of interest – keeping six feet from others and/or wearing masks – still no one could be on the Extension campus. It seems that the Governor’s directive for education institutions like OSU has a different timeline than other organizations. But at last there’s some light: volunteers will now be permitted to work in the Demonstration Gardens, under strict guidelines. Because of the essential nature of the work we do, helping with food security, exceptions have been made for volunteers to be on campus. The numbers allowed at any one time will be limited, so work in the gardens will be spread out over multiple days instead of being concentrated on Wednesday mornings. This is for our own safety, but I know we’ll miss the congeniality of coffee and donut breaks. Master Gardener Coordinator Erika Szonntag and the garden coordinators will share the details.

At our regular June Board of Directors meeting (held via Zoom, naturally) each of JCMGA’s working groups gave an update on their plans for the coming months. The Fundraising Working Group and the Communications Working Group will together do even more promotion of the efforts already underway to raise money through the sale of our Garden Guides, bottle and can returns, etc.

My personal favorite of these is requesting that my purchases at the Grange Co-op be credited to JCMGA. Of all the local stores I used to patronize, the one I’ve continued to visit during the pandemic is the Grange Co-op, to buy fertilizer and other supplies for my vegetable garden. (I go during the first hour of the morning when the store is open only to seniors.) Each time I check out, even if I’ve bought only a package of seeds, when the clerk asks if I’m a member I say “No, but please credit the Jackson County Master Gardener Association.” It takes a few minutes for the clerk to locate JCMGA in the computer, but s/he always does find it. The amounts of these purchases add up, and at the end of the year JCMGA gets a percentage credit that can be used to buy supplies for the Practicum or Demonstration Gardens. The credit isn’t huge, only about $300 each year, but if we all remembered to do this I believe it could be much larger.

It looks as though “pop-up sales” of the natives and other plants raised by the Practicum, and which are still held on campus or being fostered by members at their homes, will not be possible until at least September. However, one of our Board members volunteered her large property for a “community garage sale” in August, with an emphasis on garden supplies and equipment. Several of us will pitch in as private citizens to help and to donate items to sell. This would not be under the auspices of JCMGA, but it is expected that proceeds will be donated to our organization after the event.

You may remember that last year there was a Holiday Gala in Greenhouse 2 where winter-blooming bulbs, wreaths, and other decorations were sold. Depending on the circumstances, we want to have a similar socially-distanced activity on campus, or a virtual Holiday Gala instead.

Our traditional Winter Dreams/Summer Gardens education event, normally held the first Saturday in November, is of course cancelled. There are many professionally produced webinars and YouTube videos available to learn about gardening, and we see no need to try and compete with these as an alternative to Winter Dreams. However, the Community Outreach Working Group would like to develop locally-focused virtual gardening lessons and demonstrations, but lacks equipment and expertise. If you have either or both to offer, please contact Jim Buck or Bill Gabriel.

Looking to 2021, what we do depends on COVID-19 and guidelines from the state and OSU. The Spring Garden Fair Working Group is starting to plan with two alternatives in mind: Holding it at the county fairgrounds as usual, or having a virtual event, with links to vendors (including JCMGA) who could take orders online and sell from their own locations. So, as they say, stay tuned.