Resources for DCMGA Volunteers:
OSU Extension Volunteer Engagement page
(HandsOn Connect) password required
Dividing Houseplants Workshop
On September 29, Delaware County Master Gardeners held an interactive workshop on dividing houseplants at SourcePoint in Delaware. Nora Hiland led the hands-on activity where participants learned how to separate and repot their plants for their continued enjoyment at home.
Class began with removing the plants from their pots. The group then cleaned the pots and washed the plants, making sure to remove all of the soil. Soil mix was discussed as well as how to prepare the soil for planting. Watering and fertilizing instructions were given before our happy indoor gardeners headed home with their newly invigorated plants.
Autumn Arborfest 2022
This is the fourth year DCMGA has participated in the Autumn Arborfest held at Alum Creek Park North in Westerville. This was the best year so far, thanks to the City of Westerville bringing in more organizations and nurseries for the event. Susan Alexander, Susan DeVol and Susan Logan were available to answer really interesting questions from the public. Susan Schmidt dropped by for a visit too! Do you sense a Susan theme?
The Trees Grab and Go Box Committee developed the display, which was well received and generated lots of questions from attendees. Children were engaged with leaf rubbings and the "Whack a Walnut" game. What’s that, you ask? Well, a walnut or hickory nut is placed in a shallow divot on a thick plank and kids hit the nut with a hammer. Not exactly educational, but it sure was fun!
It was a fun day dedicated to all things trees. Remember, if you have any tree or garden related questions, submit them here. We're always happy to help!
DCMGA Hosts Booth at Delaware County Fair
The Delaware County Fair had another great year! Once again, our Delaware County Master Gardeners hosted a booth in the Merchant building with over 1000 adults and hundreds of children visiting throughout the week.
Visitors learned about ways to attract and provide habitats for pollinators, including the use of plants native to Ohio. Master Gardeners also answered questions about lawn care, vegetable gardening, creating meadow gardens, and other topics. Those who stopped by the booth were given vegetable seeds for next year's produce and children received labels for their insulated water mugs or tablets.
Kenny Cummins Wins 2nd place for Best Home Landscaping!
Delaware County Master Gardener Kenny Cummins won 2nd place for Best Home Landscaping in the 2022 Columbus Dispatch Backyard Garden Awards. Her garden was one of over 300 entries. Kenny's garden is named "Shaded Serenity." In her entry description, Kenny reflects:
Creating a garden in full shade in our back woods has been quite a challenge and has taken several years. For color and texture I used various hostas, ferns, astilbe, brunnera, bleeding heart, coral bell and several ground covers. For additional color I added impatiens to the log, the heart shaped stone bed and the inverted tree trunk along with a few coleus and caladiums.
Kenny Cummins' garden, "Shaded Serenity"
Exotic Invasive Plants Workshop
Dig it up, throw it out! That was the not so subtle theme of Nora Hiland’s open to the public Exotic Invasive Plants presentation at the Powell Parks and Recreation facility. Some of us sat quiet and guilty in our seats as the integrity of our landscaping was ruthlessly attacked. Yes, I do have a burning bush and I may have one or two barberry, luckily the wintercreeper died on its own. In my defense, they were planted long before my Master Gardening days. I heard others mumbling about the miscanthus or Callery Pears gracing their yards. In this case, some of the choir definitely needed a little preaching.
We learned where these pesky invasive plants came from, some intentionally, others as hitchhikers. Some started with good intentions like the original sterile Callery Pear that then ran amuck as cross pollination created super power fertile trees. Nora told us about the clogged waterways, deformed tadpoles, elimination of native plant food sources for our wildlife, and so many more devastating environmental consequences of these exotic invasive plants.
Some of the most heinous of Ohio’s invasive species were passed around the classroom - Tree of Heaven, Callery pear, Honeysuckle, Barberry (green and red leaf), Privet, Wintercreeper and Chinese Silver Grass. The better for us to be able to identify these thugs of our woodlands, meadows and forests.
Nora ended the workshop with a walk outside along a short treed hillside. Canadian Thistle (which is not from Canada), honeysuckle, miscanthus, and the ever present Callery pear – all present and accounted for. Dig it up, tear it out!
Thank you Nora for such an entertaining and informative workshop. And thank you Gina Kolp for inviting Delaware County Master Gardeners to Powell Parks and Recreation to spread the word to try to stop the spread of these dangerous invaders to our Ohio landscape.
Shale Meadows Elementary School Summer Workshop and Garden
Students have been running through sprinklers this summer while Master Gardener Karen Rissmeyer has been busy at Olentangy’s Shale Meadows’ Monarch garden. Appropriately, the monarch is the mascot of Shale Meadows. Karen has been digging milkweed out of her yard, her friends’ yards, even roadside ditches under construction (with the help of Jennie Arbona, third grade SMES teacher) to transplant this monarch caterpillar food source into the school’s namesake garden.
In true “Give a Mouse a Cookie” fashion, this all began with a January visit where Karen taught third graders to sow milkweed into milk jugs as a winter seed sowing project. The milk jug seedlings were joined by black-eyed susans, anise hyssop, zinnias and stiff goldenrod. Soon they all grew into beautiful blooms, along with a healthy crop of oxalis/wood sorrel, honeyvine milkweed, crab grass and flower of an hour weed.
Marshalling the troops, Karen asked principal Greta Gnagy to send out a Shale Meadows all-parent alert and 12 families signed up to tend the garden over the summer months. Karen held a “This is a weed, this is not a weed, this is how to physically remove it” family workshop for all the volunteers, where they also learned a little bit about monarchs and the plants in the garden.
The Monarch garden is an ever changing learning adventure and will be incorporated into Shale Meadows’ school curriculum. Thank you Karen for sharing your love of gardening and monarchs. By gifting this unique outdoor learning space to your little buddies, you have given them the gift to personally observe and experience the wonder of nature and of all of its cycles.
Gardening for Specialist Bees and Other Pollinators
Nora Hiland and Terri Litchfield presented a program on June 18 to an audience at Stratford Ecological Center as part of a day of activities in anticipation of National Pollinator Week, June 20-26. They were asked to focus on gardening for specialist bees with content suitable for a range of gardeners, from beginner to experienced.
Specialist bees, most of which are native bees and don’t include honeybees which are a non-native species, usually rely on one or two plant genera when collecting pollen for provisioning their nests. If these plants aren’t in the landscape, these specialist bees will not find a home there. Gardening for specialist bees helps bring diversity to the landscape and provides resources needed to sustain populations of these native bees.
The presentation included examples of fifteen native plants upon which certain species of native bees are dependent. Spring-, summer-, and fall-blooming plants were included to demonstrate that different bee species require these pollen resources at different times through the gardening season.
Want to learn more? The basis for the presentation was the Guide to Ohio Specialist Bees. This resource page was provided to participants as well.
Delaware Master Gardeners Celebrate 2021 Accomplishments at Banquet
Master Gardener Plant Swap
Could we have gotten a more beautiful May evening to mingle, talk shop and swap out unloved plants for plants that we hope to love? Our annual (we hope!) Master Gardener Plant Swap was blessed with sunny skies and warm breezes. Cars lined up in the Stratford parking lot with trunks popped open overflowing with plants of all stripes. Shasta daisies, hosta, canna and iris tubers, a plethora of native plants and even an arborvitae or two – it was a treasure hunt for plant lovers, and it was free!
A HUGE thank you to Nikki Sparks and Jan Irwin for planning such a wonderful evening for us all. Even those who didn’t take home any new treasures got to enjoy the simple pleasure of being together, reconnecting and making new gardening friends.
Guided Wildflower Walk at Gallant Woods Park
Sunday, May 1st was a beautiful day for a guided Wild Flower Walk through Gallant Woods Park with Master Gardeners Susan DeVol and Charlotte Niceswanger.
Introductions were exchanged at the Acorn Loop Pavilion. Armed with our cell phones and prepared to scan the QR codes on the Wildflower Signs, we set off on the Acorn Trail. There were a few surprises along the way. The group identified an emerald ash borer who traveled along the path with us, discovered a few morel mushrooms and learned about 10 different wildflowers including wild violets, phlox and May apples.
What should have been one loop on the Acorn Trail turned in to two loops because our group was so engaged that we lost track of where we were!
We were so fortunate to meet a Girl Scout Troop leader and her daughter who shared with us their plans to build a pollinator garden this summer on a plot of land approved by their neighborhood association in Lewis Center. Needless to say we had an attentive audience grateful to learn about all of the resources available through the Delaware County Master Gardener Association. We parted ways excited and encouraged by everyone’s interest and with a few more steps than originally planned.
OWU Arboretum Tree Trek Guided Walk for MGs
What a gorgeous Saturday morning we spent on the beautiful Ohio Wesleyan University Campus with three very special Student Environmental Ambassadors. Delaware County Master Gardeners arranged for a private tour of OWU’s Jane Decker Arboretum, a living laboratory for learning about plant identification and diversity, arboriculture, landscape design, and ecology. With over 105 species of trees and woody plants from temperate regions around the world, the Arboretum is a hidden treasure on campus.
The Ginkgos, Fall Witch Hazels, Horse Chestnuts, Dogwoods, Sweetbay Magnolias, Maples, Oaks and Hickories were magnificent, but it was our student tour guides that were the true treasures. Carly, Isa and SK – you were so warm and welcoming, we felt like we were visiting family. You were kind enough to give us a tour of your greenhouses and herbarium and answer all our random questions about your research and campus life. Carly, I was amazed to hear about your “CRISPR” gene editing experiments – exciting frontiers! And good luck to you, Isa, as your studies take you to LSU.
A special thank you to Barb Wiehe, Jane Decker Arboretum Director, for arranging our delightful tour. And on the weekend before Finals week, Thank You SK, Carly and Isa for spending the morning with us and sharing the natural beauty of your campus.
April 9th Seminar, Maximizing Ecological Diversity in your Ohio Garden and Beyond
Naturalist Julie Zickefoose and botanist Jim McCormac presented a visually stunning program for Delaware County Master Gardener’s sell-out audience on April 9th at The Barn in Waldo. Snow may have been threatening, but we all enjoyed the sunshine and stories that Julie and Jim brought.
Through artistry, photography and videos, we were able to follow Julie's transformation in her meadows and gardens near Marietta, Ohio. We took a trip through Ohio's Flora and Fauna with Jim McCormac, visiting his favorite spots for birding: Magee Marsh, Maumee Bay, Lake Kelso, Hocking Hills, Huffman Prairie, Shawnee State Forest and Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. We ended the day with Julie's story “Saving Jemima: Life and Love with a Hard-Luck Jay” which was an emotional journey of finding grace and redemption and bonding with a wild bird. Her words of wisdom for living with a wild creature are true for all of us, “Listen, it tells you what you need to know if you just listen”.
A special THANK YOU to Laura Rosenheck, Craig Shuneson, Connie Emerson, Jim Cline, Sandy Schaadt and Charlotte Niceswanger for planning, organizing, promoting and implementing this complex, major presentation over months of hard work and covid uncertainty. You pulled together a multitude of moving pieces, all while smiling. What a great day you gave our attendees! I talked to many of our audience members (young to old) and all were smiling on their way out.
Registration ran seamlessly and everyone was greeted with a smiling Steve, Dottie, Jon and Jim. Connie and her crew (Nancy and Regina) decorated our space beautifully, “whimsical” is how Julie Z described the centerpieces, and Connie also went above and beyond to welcome our speakers and make them feel so valued. Craig and Laura reacted quickly to fix any “glitches” (screen, audio equipment) that popped up. Sue and Regina kept an eye on the audience and helped with handouts, welcomes and information and everyone helped with cleanup.
It was the perfect day to be captivated, transformed and inspired to do what we can to attract and preserve these wonderful birds in our own backyards. Thank you Julie and Jim for introducing us to your feathered friends.
Ohio Wesleyan University Early Childhood Center
Preschoolers, parents, grandparents, teachers, and Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) students led by OWU Junior Myles Steed, braved a cold, windy and damp April day to plant a veggie garden in newly built raised beds that were installed at the Ohio Wesleyan University Early Childhood Center. The garden was the idea of Myles, a pre-med major who volunteers at the Center (https://www.owu.edu/news-media/details/a-dose-of-doing-good/). The materials for the garden were donated by parents and community members. The children planted a variety of seeds and several dozen earthworms with enthusiasm and great abandon. Center Director, Kellie Hall, is organizing the families to care for and harvest the produce throughout the school’s summer break. Master Gardener Intern, Cynthia Buettner, is serving as support and consultant for the project.
Fun Gardening Activities at SourcePoint and Powell Parks & Rec
Gardening 101, with a heavy emphasis on “fun gardening activities” was our topic at three free-to-the-public classes this March. Gayle and Nora (Delaware County Master Gardener Volunteers) journeyed to Powell Parks and Recreation’s Adventure Park while snowflakes scattered, then to Delaware’s senior center SourcePoint between heavy rainstorms. Will Spring never arrive?
Judging by the questions, the smiles, and the hugs we received after our presentation, our audience enjoyed the class as much as we did. Irreverent – yes; packed with basic information – yes; lively, beautiful slides – check; take home activity – yup!
Our listeners learned about Cutting Flowers and how to make them last, Milk Jug Greenhouses (with a Zone 6 Winter Seed Sowing Guide), Teepee Shelters of Scarlet Runner Beans, Sensory Gardens, Laundry Basket Potatoes (a very popular idea with our audience), Seed Tapes and Windowsill Microgreens. We ran out of time for Pizza Gardens, but participants took home a “Container Vegetable Varieties” sheet to help them plan “Pizza in a Pot”.
We all made vegetable seed tapes and the brave tasted microgreen arugula, sage, basil or a mix of kale, cabbage, mustard and kohlrabi. Demonstrations for Teepees, Potato Baskets, Greenhouse Milk Jugs, Seed Tapes and Windowsill microgreens kept the class on its toes. (Thank you Nora!)
Luckily, Nora and I could answer our more obscure audience “Stump the Master Gardener” questions:
Is it safe to sleep with plants in your bedroom as they take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide when they “sleep”? Yes, it is a minimal amount of carbon dioxide.
Do marigolds really deter pests? The French marigold (even though it originates in Mexico) is much more potently-scented than the Aztec marigold. This is often the species grown as an aromatic pest repellent. Many hybridized marigolds have been bred to eliminate this strong repellent odor.
What makes a good microgreen seed? Any leafy vegetable that you would eat, plus there are unusual seeds like popcorn, amaranth and even sunflower that are interesting microgreens.
Our participants’ surveys were filled with wonderful ideas for future DCMGA programs and “feel good” comments:
“Your presentation was wonderful and full of useful information”; “Excellent presentation”; “Very nice open friendly environment, fun educational program”; “Presenters did a great job. I am going to try the milk jugs”; “Fantastic session!”
Thank you to Gina Kolp of Powell Parks and Recreation and Joan Pearse of SourcePoint Senior Center for allowing us to spread our basic “good news, fun gardening ideas”. Now let’s get out in the garden and try them out!
Sustainable Beauty: Gardening for Biodiversity
A group of twenty or so individuals braved a very cold, wintery morning to hear Terri and Randy Litchfield speak about the importance of native plants in supporting biodiversity in home gardens. The setting was Cedar Bog Nature Preserve (website | Facebook), the first nature preserve in Ohio purchased with state money and considered by many to be Ohio’s premier natural area. This state nature preserve boasts the greatest plant diversity of any place in the state, harboring an amazing 40 percent of the rare and endangered plant species in Ohio.
The presentation highlighted a number of spring ephemerals which will be blooming next month, later blooming native plants, an example of a backyard conversion to mostly natives, and a brief photo-documentary of the insect life found in the garden after this conversion. The audience was engaged and several were inspired to make changes in their home landscapes. Using cardboard to smother lawn was familiar to one participant and the description of how this was accomplished encouraged him to follow through with this in his landscape. Another participant expressed appreciation for the spreadsheet of plants with growing conditions, flower color, height, spread, sun, and soil information as she is planning to do a major project in her yard but was having trouble getting started with the planning. This session was the first in their monthly series and the preserve manager was quite pleased with the interest shown in the presentation.
Weed Identification Class at Stratford Ecological Center
Twenty nine enthusiastic Stratford volunteers participated in a spring weed identification class on Tuesday, March 8th. After a basic overview of growth habits, botany and my usual nightmare-producing speech on Giant Hogweed, the group proceeded to use the weed key from Weeds of the Northeast. Together, we keyed a dandelion and purple deadnettle. Then, the group broke into teams of 2 and identified white clover, hairy bittercress, ground ivy and wild violet. As usual, the group had a hard time deciphering the difference between basal rosettes and whirled leaf arrangements. In the end, our weed samples were pulled to pieces, our hands were dirty and everyone agreed a little more practice was required! A special thanks to Cynthia Buettner for her assistance all afternoon.
Basal rosette of leaves
Winter Seed Sowing at Stratford Ecological Center
What a great start to a dreary February weekend! Regina and Barb enlightened and entertained a Sold-Out crowd of community gardeners hoping to get a head start on their spring planting of native plants and vegetables. Thirty-seven hopeful gardeners (only nine of them Master Gardeners) drove up the winding road to Stratford Ecological Center, dreaming of blooming native plants and tasty tomatoes. What they received was so much more.
Yes, everyone took home a beet seed tape, and two mini milk jug greenhouses, one planted with cabbage seeds, another with purple coneflower. But it was the information and the “true plant” stories that Regina and Barb shared that were the true treasures of the morning. Stratification, germination, what is a native plant and where can I purchase them, how to divide milk jug plants, which vegetables are best for milk jug sowing, what soil (not dirt) do I use … all these and more were presented.
What we learned through the seed tape and milk jug sowing successes and failures of Regina and Barb were even more important:
Label, label, label – for you will forget what you have sown.
Protect/contain your milk jug from strong winds, animals, enthusiastic children (that’s my contribution) – or it will be blown away, tipped over, or stepped on.
Mist your seeds, don’t drown them – or they will float (and germinate) around the edges of your jug.
Use single-ply toilet paper for your seed tape – but perhaps for nothing else.
Ensure that the end of your seed tape is secured under soil – or birds and other curious wildlife will abscond with your toilet paper row of radish seeds.
The class was filled with laughter and excitement. 100% of participants enthusiastically gave Regina and Barb a “Do this Again!” rating and the surveys were filled with a very common theme:
“Loved it; Fun; Learned a Lot, Really Enjoyed it; Awesome Presenters; Educational; Fun; Outstanding Presenters; Fun Project; Easy to do at Home; Lots of Fun …” I think we all get the message!
Thank you to Regina Lach and Barb Butt – our awesome speakers. And a big thank you to all the support team: Nancy Freeland, Nora Hiland, Terri Litchfield, Randy Litchfield, Mary Sandberg, and Nancy Traub.
Shale Meadows Elementary School
Karen Rissmeyer (Master Gardener class of 2021!) has initiated an exciting learning project at Shale Meadows Elementary School. Karen, a newly retired educator from Olentangy Local School District, reached out to principal Greta Gnagy and teacher Mandy Robek of the Shale Meadow Monarchs to offer Master Gardener help to create a Monarch school garden and to teach students about the life cycle and food source for the Monarch butterfly.
After two years of schools restricting outside access to their students for health concerns, Master Gardeners were finally invited back into the classroom to share the science and fun of gardening – woohoo!
On Wednesday, January 5, three intrepid Master Gardeners (Karen and MG intern helpers Cynthia Buettner and Stephany Merick) arrived at Shale Meadows Elementary school armed with milk jugs, milkweed seed, a handy dandy drill, duct tape and soil. Their mission – to educate five third grade classes about monarchs, their migration, their host plant, and why creating a monarch waystation is helpful to the continuation of the species. Karen led a discussion that taught the students about monarchs and also about milkweed, winter seed sowing, and reviewing the water cycle. As a retired teacher, Karen was more than ready to jump into leading the students in a game, simulation, and discussion that led up to the winter seed sowing activity.
Students drilled milk jugs, filled them with potting soil and wet the soil. Fluffy milkweed seeds were scattered in the soil (and possibly elsewhere) and gently misted. Do-it-all duct tape sealed the cut edges of the jugs and they were ready to be put outside to stratify in the cold. The student “Milkweed Crew” will watch over the jugs when they're out on the playground over the winter. Karen taught the “Crew” what to watch for (moisture –too much, too little) and what to do to make their little seedlings healthy and happy.
Thank you to Greta Gnagy and Mandy Robek for giving us such delightful mini gardeners and for allowing us to share the wonder of Monarchs with your third graders.
And thank you to our creative and energetic intern MGs Karen Rissmeyer, Cynthia Buettner and Stephany Merick who are bringing the science of gardening back to our schools!
John Heinz - 2022 Delaware County Master Gardener of the Year
The Mission of the Delaware County Master Gardener Association is to provide environmentally sound, research-based horticultural education to the residents of Delaware County. There are many ways to accomplish this, but this Year’s candidate stands out specifically in three areas. John Heinz has worked tirelessly and quietly answering questions sent to the Help Desk, replying to questions submitted to the state-wide Ask a Master Gardener program, and interpreting and making recommendations regarding soil analyses.
John became a Master Gardener Volunteer in 2007. By 2011, he took charge of reviewing soil analyses and providing detailed advice to homeowners on how to amend their soil to improve their lawns and gardens. On average, John provided recommendations to 45 homeowners per year. John’s expertise was called upon to help MGVs enrolled in the 2018 Advanced Master Gardener Soils Specialization Program and more recently to develop and train a group of Master Gardeners in 2021 to take over this project.
In addition, John provided education to residents through the Helpdesk as the primary volunteer. Every Monday morning the Extension Office could count on John to appear ready and willing to research and answer various gardening emails and phone messages from Delaware County residents. In his spare time, he developed a filing system for replies and trained many of the new interns so they could readily respond to inquiries.
Since 2013, John has been responsible for answering questions submitted to the statewide Ask a Master Gardener program. As one would expect John’s replies were always well-researched, informative and succinct.
Over the years, John was involved in other DCMGA projects, including the plant sale, fair gates and the I-tree survey. He has been fondly referred to as the Tree Guy by many an intern. John has been an exemplary model of a Master Gardener Volunteer and because of his devotion to the Delaware County Extension Office and Master Gardener Association, John Heinz has been named the 2022 Delaware County Master Gardener of the Year.
DCMGA Wins 2021 State Awards in Four Categories!!
Congratulations to all our winning Master Gardener Volunteers and their projects. We are excited to announce that our Delaware County group of Master Gardener Volunteers swept the awards at the 2021 OSU Extension Annual State Conference!
We all give in so many ways in so many amazing projects, paying forward to our community and to each other. This year, we recognized the following projects, MGVs and Friends of MGVs and we are thrilled that they were acknowledged by the State as being the “best of the best”.
Terri Litchfield – Outstanding MGV
Native Plant Propagation Project – Outstanding Large MGV Project
Pandemic Perseverance Award:
Stratford Ecological Center– Outstanding MGV Friend
We’d like to give just a brief overview of the achievements of each of our winners.
Terri Litchfield – Outstanding MGV
Terri is a generous and tireless ambassador for Native Plants in the Master Gardener program. She is welcoming, patient beyond bounds and a judicious delegator, all useful traits for the Chairman of the largest committee in the DCMGA organization. Technical know-how and organization are just a few of the strong leadership qualities that make Terri an inspirational leader who is bubbling with ideas and knows how to make them happen. Planning education days, seed starting events, garden walks or solving technical problems while sharing her love of native plants with the community, Terri always has a smile. She empowers MGs to never cease learning and to share their knowledge with others. Inspired by the interest in her native garden, Terri assembled a committee and got to work growing native plants to sell, and along the way, created educational opportunities for both the community and MGs. Butterflies and Master Gardeners alike, we thank Terri for all that she does on our behalf and on the behalf of all gardeners.
Native Plant Propagation Project – Outstanding Large MGV Project (Environmental Horticulture)
The Native Plants project began in 2018 as a means for Delaware County Master Gardener Volunteers (DCMGVs) to learn more about plants native to our state and region and to grow these natives to sell to the public. It evolved into a major educational and plant nursery effort of 38 DCMGVs who promote the ecological benefits of native plants to our community and grow 16 species of natives to offer to the public through our annual plant sale.
We reach out to both Master Gardeners and the casual gardener interested in preserving biodiversity through our workshops, presentations and plant sales and digitally through our webinars and Facebook. We strive to teach gardening practices that are ecologically sustainable and promote habitat health for insects and birds through the use of native plantings.
Specifically, our goals are to:
Increase public awareness of the importance of native plants in local ecosystems and to the use of native plants in gardens and landscapes
Advance DCMGV’s education (workshops and hands-on experience)
Pandemic Perseverance Award
This was a (hopefully) once in a lifetime award to address how each county reacted and adapted to the limitations place upon them by the COVID pandemic. How did MGVs continue to reach out to their communities? This award required two essay nominations and we chose the new DCMGA Website and the Grace Clinic project.
1. In what ways was your county able to continue to connect to MGVs and the community during the pandemic?
DCMGA Website – the tech committee
Delaware County was resilient throughout the pandemic, finding ways to continue to engage with stakeholders both internally and externally. Creating fact sheets, plant profiles, educational videos and other materials, the members realized there was nowhere to “house” all of these (and past) great resources. The association created a technology committee to brainstorm next steps and potential options. The tech committee came to the conclusion that a website needed to be created to be the hub for all the educational resources. The website was created with the vision of being a resource to Delaware County community members as a gardening and horticulture library and quickly grew to so much more.
Studying extension and horticultural websites across the nation, the Master Gardener Volunteer technology committee itemized priorities to make the website intuitive, fun, colorful, current and packed with useful easy-to-access gardening information for both the casual and Master Gardener.
Last year was a difficult year for our Master Gardeners, but the pandemic gave us time to assess and catalog our strengths. It gave us time to find and develop a new path to digitally connect to our Delaware County and MGV communities and to further open access to all our wonderful educational and horticultural resources.
Stratford Ecological Center – Outstanding MGV Friend
Over the years the Delaware County Master Gardeners have made use of both Stratford’s physical resources and the Center’s knowledgeable welcoming staff to host monthly Master Gardener meetings and to present a variety of programs to the local community. One staff member, Bob Harter, is a specialist in native plants and has been extremely helpful with several of our native plant programs.
In early 2020, Delaware County Master Gardeners (DCMG) entered into a partnership with Stratford to build two raised beds on SEC property. We needed more land for our native plant nurseries. DCMGVs would provide native plant training to the community at Stratford in exchange for use of SEC garden property – truly a win-win situation!
Delaware County Master Gardeners value Stratford Ecological Center as much more than just a ‘Friend’ of our organization but also as an important resource for Central Ohio. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with them on so many varied educational horticultural events and we thank them for all the support and knowledge they have so generously shared with us.
2. Please provide examples of successes (up to 3) that you achieved in your county projects despite the limitations created by the pandemic.
Grace Clinic – Barb Butt and Carol Champa
Grace Clinic is a free medical ministry in the city of Delaware that serves uninsured and underinsured members of the community. Diabetes and obesity are major health concerns and nutrition is a frequent topic of conversation between the clinic and their clients. Learning what to eat and just as importantly, having the right food choices readily available were goals of the partnership between DCMGVs and Grace Clinic.
Barb Butt and Carol Champa answered the clinic’s call for help and advice on how to provide fresh produce and to educate their clients on the benefits of eating fresh vegetables. They planted raised beds with lettuce, peas, beets, cucumbers, beans, cabbage, squash, tomatoes, and sweet peppers and instructed clinic staff on best practices for watering, harvesting, and maintenance. The clinic tended the prolific garden and provided their clients with many goodie bags of fresh vegetables to enjoy, always with a reminder of the benefits of fresh produce.
A second, and wildly successful part of the partnership, taught Grace Clinic clients how to grow their own vegetables. Carol and Barb assembled over 30 tomato “kits” and created a “Vegetable Gardening 101” PowerPoint that was made into a YouTube video in a MGV’s home garden. Clinic clients interested in taking home a “kit” watched the video during their appointments and learned about growing vegetables, specifically care of tomatoes.
Along with the Grace Clinic Executive Director Melissa Mason, we thank Barb and Carol for their “overwhelming success”. “The container gardens were such a hit – we got more calls for that program than any other nutrition outreach to date! Patients would come in each week with reports on how their garden was growing.”
Platinum Level Standard of Excellence Award
(Highest Level of Excellence)
DCMGA and the Delaware County Extension Office were granted the Platinum Level Standard of Excellence Award for meeting at least nine criteria of the Master Gardener program. Requirements include submission of membership data including CEUs and hours volunteered, adherence to state policies, internal financial review, offering of a community education program, and submittal of award nominees.
Charlotte Niceswanger - 2021 Delaware County Master Gardener of the Year
The Delaware County Master Gardener Association is proud to announce Charlotte Niceswanger as the 2021 Delaware County Master Gardener of the Year.
Charlotte developed our Master Gardeners’ Facebook page into a major presence in horticultural education and information. She recognized the untapped potential of Facebook and with humor, well organized postings and beautiful photography she brought our extensive gardening knowledge to social media and into the homes of all of our many “friends”.
Last year was a difficult year for Master Gardeners. Our Mission Statement is to “educate others with timely, research-based gardening information”. When state and OSU restrictions were put in place in Spring 2020, Facebook became one of our prime communications venues. Charlotte works tirelessly with Master Gardeners to identify programming and educational postings to keep our Delaware County residents entertained, learning and gardening.
An excellent hobby photographer, Charlotte uses her unique skills to add beauty and her creative and timely ‘Humor Thursdays’ add a touch of fun when it is desperately needed. As our gardens grow and evolve, so too has the Delaware County Master Gardener Facebook page under Charlotte’s loving care. A dash of fun, a sprinkle of sparkle and a heaping dose of education and information – these are the tools that Charlotte uses to reach and teach our public friends.
The Delaware County Master Gardener Association has been enriched by Charlotte’s commitment and her willingness to creatively step up and help out. In honor of her contributions, DCMGA will award two $2500 scholarships in Charlotte’s name to any High School seniors and/or college students going into the field of horticulture.
Thank you Charlotte, for your gifts of time and talent to us and to all of the home gardening community.
By: Gayle O’Sullivan
Liechty Honored as an Outstanding Master Gardener Volunteer for 2019
The Delaware County Master Gardener Association (DCMGA) is proud to announce that Susan Liechty was honored as an Outstanding Master Gardener Volunteer for 2019 at the OSU Extension Annual Conference. Susan has been active in DCMGA for 25 years!
Susan is the embodiment of a tireless ambassador for the Master Gardener program. She is an innovator of new educational programs that attract MGVs and draw in the gardening public. She empowers MGVs to educate others and to never cease teaming. She is a mentor, an educator, a leader and a highly respected MGV at all levels, local to national, professional horticulturalist to first time gardener. In a perfect analogy, one gardening magazine described Susan as "warm and comfortable as a country kitchen" ... if one throws in a pinch of spice!
Her joyful hands-on approach to teaching, her extensive contributions to herbal knowledge and her enthusiasm in sharing that information, her willingness to listen and lead have only intensified over her 25 years as an extremely active MGV. Susan is one of our strongest supporters for advanced Master Gardener education and her vision, guidance and hard work have created so many learning opportunities such as her "Green Thumbs" Workshops and her "Advanced Specialization in Herbs" program.
Garden communicator, herb enthusiast, author and integral part of the Education Committee, Susan is a constant source of support and inspiration and has helped (and helps) to mold the DCMGA into the vibrant and growing organization that it is todav.