October 1995 // Volume 33 // Number 5 // Ideas at Work // 5IAW3

Previous Article Issue Contents Previous Article

Master Gardeners and Youth Gardeners Raise Vegetables to Help Needy

Master gardeners and youth gardeners raise vegetables to help the needy in Clermont County. This is a joint effort involving two Extension agents, 20 master gardeners, 15 4-H members and their parents, Clermont County commissioners, local businesses, and The Freestore/Foodbank to address this need in our community. Our master gardeners will be able to implement the theoretical knowledge that they have gained by teaching a new generation of gardening enthusiasts--our 4-H members. This should prove to be a rewarding experience for our volunteers as they will be providing those in need of quality vegetables. It is a win-win situation for everyone.

Gary Gao, Ph.D.
Extension Agent
Internet address: yugao@agvax2.ag.ohio-state.edu

Walt Bumgarner
Extension Agent
Internet Address: cler@agvax2.ag.ohio-state.edu

Amy Doran Buettner
Administrative Assistant
Horticulture and 4-H
Internet address: cler@agvax2.ag.ohio-state.edu

Clermont County, Ohio

Master gardeners and 4-H members who are interested in gardening will combine forces to combat hunger and nutritional deficiency in Clermont County, Ohio. This project will be a joint effort among two Clermont County Extension agents, 20 master gardeners, 15 4-H members and their parents, county commissioners, many local businesses, and The Freestore/Foodbank Eastern Branch.

The Freestore/Foodbank collects canned goods donated from various businesses in the Midwest and distributes the supplies to 15 local agencies in Clermont County, Ohio. Very little fresh vegetables have been donated to food pantries due to their short shelf lives and high cost. The vegetables grown through this program will be of great value to food recipients who would not be able to afford them otherwise.

Traditionally, many of our 4-H members have been interested in gardening projects. Those 4-H members, under the supervision of the 4-H agent, will gain gardening skills from master gardeners, and will also learn to be caring, responsible, and productive citizens. In return for their involvement, an award program will be implemented to honor youth gardeners who have made significant contributions in this area.

Master gardeners will be able to apply practical gardening skills as well as the theoretical knowledge gained from our Master Gardener Program. Several master gardeners have children in various 4-H clubs and most of our master gardeners have indicated an interest in participating in a youth gardening program on the application forms. Under the supervision of the horticulture agent, these volunteers will utilize their knowledge in garden design so that high quality fresh vegetables will be available all season long.

Five acres of land is available to the program through The Freestore/Foodbank. However, the total garden size will be approximately 2,000 square feet the first year and will be expanded as necessary during future years.

Seeds, transplants, fertilizers, tools, top soil, and organic materials for soil improvement will be donated by local businesses. A composting bin will be utilized to provide the composted materials that are needed to amend clay soils. This may also be used as a teaching tool for future composting demonstrations.

This innovative program will provide a win-win situation for all involved. In addition to providing a much needed community service, the program will enable our Master Gardener trainees to implement the knowledge that they have gained and apply it to training our 4-H members.