Tag Archive | volunteering

In My Backyard: The Sauk County Gardener

One thing you’ll learn about gardeners: we love to share our knowledge and our experiences with other gardeners. Here is a reprint of an article from a fellow gardener in Sauk County that appeared in our State newsletter The Volunteer Vibe.

************************************

Phyllis Both, Sauk County UW-Extension Horticulture Educator

When I was a child many, many, many years ago I loved watching insects.  I would catch and study them under a microscope.  We had a neighborhood with a lot of kids.  We used our imaginations and made up old fashioned games.  My forte was bugs.  I’d catch them, put them in jars and charge a penny to view them.  It was so much fun for a little kid! Now days my interest is a little more extensive and I attend any entomology presentation I can.

Reedsburg-Pioneer-Village-Museum-SignWhen my Master Gardeners adopted a neglected historical site called the Reedsburg Area Pioneer Log Village we each adopted a cabin to beautify. We planted old-fashioned flowers and cared for the cabins to help attract more visitors and school children.  Black-eyed Susan’s, hollyhocks, daisies, and numerous hardy native plants were planted in the very poor soil the pioneers had to deal with.

These improvements helped but it was still not a village. Two victory gardens were planted.  It’s amazing how many people don’t know why the victory garden were planted during WWI and WWII.  It is a great teaching tool.  We loved the gardens but it was still not enough.  We started wondering what the pioneer doctors would have used since a drugstore or apothecary was not available.  An herb garden was built and medicinal herbs were planted.  This garden is another great teaching tool for both kids and adults.

What was still missing?  A prairie!  A natural habitat for bees, butterflies and wildlife was just what the village needed.  After a few summers went by, bluebird houses went up, bat houses went up, and native bee houses went up.

Still something was missing.  My love of the insect world must have pointed me in the right direction.  We decided to create a butterfly trail and add bee hives.  They work well together.  Fortunately three of my Master Gardeners were bee keepers and volunteered to get us started.

Top-bar_brood_comb_from_a_warre_hiveWe built three hives and ordered three colonies with three queens all from California. Our California girls were doing a great job this past summer but only in two of the hives. One of the hives was a bit lazy.  We still got fifty-one pounds of honey from the two productive hives.  We were amazed when the poor producing hive re-queened itself with a Wisconsin lady.  All three hives are buzzing with activity this spring.

I have learned so much about the wonderful community of bees; their leaders, their workers, their gate keepers.  The hives are wonderful teaching and learning tools for out busloads of visitors who have a love of nature.

Advertisements

Appleton Farm Market

by Master Gardener Jill Botvinik

Join us at the Farm Market!

Master Gardeners Eamonn Lenaghan and Jill Botvinik at the OCMGA booth

Master Gardeners Eamonn Lenaghan and Jill Botvinik at the OCMGA booth

Not only do we provide service to the community, but this is a fun opportunity for Outagamie County Master Gardeners to get to know their fellow MGs better. Outagamie County Master Gardeners have been staffing a booth at the Appleton Farm Market for many years. Providing this service to the community has been a tradition in almost every state by Master Gardener groups. This year the OCMGA is continuing the tradition starting June 25 and then on the second and fourth Saturday of each month through September and possibly October.

appleton-farmers-market-logoThe Appleton Farm Market Coordinator has again generously given us space for free in Houdini Plaza with other program type booths. The Saturday Downtown Appleton Farm Market is the third largest outdoor farm market in Wisconsin after Madison and Milwaukee. The Farm Market will open on June 18 and continue each Saturday through October with over 150 vendors.

The three reasons most people stop at our booth are:

  • Looking for help with horticultural problems
  • Interested in learning about Master Gardeners and their activities
  • Want to share their experiences with fellow gardeners

Volunteers at the 2015 booth have come up with a number of great ideas to increase traffic and draw in the public. These ideas range from having freebies like seed packs or fruit to dressing up the booth with plants to having a monthly theme. Ideas are always welcome.

In 2015 we staffed our booth once per month and in 2016 we are going back to twice per month. We had a wonderful group of volunteers in 2015 who I hope will return in 2016. Some were veterans and many were from the class of 2015. We will also be recruiting from this year’s class. One of the keys to success will be recruiting plenty of volunteers to be part of our team. This is a very fun and rewarding way to provide service to the community and earn service hours.

72 Acres With A Mission

Riverview Gardens is a non-profit social enterprise in Appleton WI, focused on job training for people in need, operating with the core concept that all people have value and can contribute to the community where they live.  Riverview Gardens has five social enterprises, including a 15-acre certified organic urban farm with an apiary, microgreens operations, hydroponics greenhouse being constructed, a bakery and a soon to be launched retail operation.  A prairie is planned for installation on the urban farm in 2016.

Vegetable Garden

Vegetable Garden

The seed for Riverview Gardens grew out of Executive Director Cindy Sahotsky’s participation in the inaugural class of the executive Social Innovation Leadership Experience (SILE) sponsored by Marquette University, the J. J. Keller Foundation and the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs.  Poverty and homelessness have many causes and cannot be resolved through shelter alone.  Some source of income is required to be eligible for transitional housing, and it is often impossible to secure employment without a current address and recent work history.   The enterprises provide unlimited job-training opportunities for the people served and a source of revenue.  Riverview Gardens sells produce, microgreens and bakery items through a community supported agriculture (CSA) program, at a farmers market and to restaurants, grocers, hospitals and corporate cafeterias.

Founded in 1898, Riverview Country Club and golf course was Wisconsin’s oldest private country club and an Appleton institution until its closing in 2011.  Riverview Gardens’ founders saw the beautiful, prominent property as an opportunity to address critical community needs in a completely new way, at the same time preserving and protecting the land for agricultural use. Riverview Gardens is the collaborative transformation of a 72-acre golf course and related country club.  This transformation addresses serious regional challenges, including rising unemployment, homelessness, poverty, and lack of access to nutritious, fresh food, all with a financially self-sustaining model.

While Riverview Gardens isn’t training people to be farmers, job-training participants grow from the lessons of farm life and gain critical transferable job skills that helps them move forward to self-sufficiency for themselves and their families.  ServiceWorks, the job-training program, has successfully provided job-training to over 500 of our community members in need.

You can get involved in this transformative project by joining volunteering your time or donating much-needed garden tools.  You can also enjoy walking, running and biking on Riverview Gardens’ 72 acres daily from dawn to dusk.  For more information, visit http://www.riverviewgardens.org.  Riverview Gardens is transforming land, lives and the non-profit idea.

Written by Kelly Nutty

Posted by Bev