In a plot at OSU’s Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center (MCAREC), dirt gets under the fingernails of small and large hands alike as Master Gardeners work alongside children and teachers. Though the garden is hosted at MCAREC, Klahre House, a local alternative high school, manages it under the supervision of OSU Master Gardener Dennis Carlson. The garden’s harvest is donated to local food banks or cooked for school meals. This is one of an estimated 150 school gardens across the state with which OSU is involved.
Elsewhere at the research station, Master Gardeners Eric Bosler and Alan Yenne whitewash a greenhouse to prepare for the annual spring plant sale. This year, Master Gardeners grew 4,234 plants and raised $7,000, according to Elizabeth Daniel, Master Gardener program assistant for OSU Extension.
Scenes like these happen because OSU Extension-trained Master Gardeners in Hood River volunteer thousands of hours of labor every year (5,000 hours in 2012), a robust representation of a statewide force of 4,160.
Master Gardeners maintain horticultural displays in the Learning Garden at MCAREC as well, where everything from the Japanese Heritage Garden commemorating Japanese Americans interned during World War II to ornamental grasses can inspire visitors.
Beyond the research center, Central Gorge Master Gardeners tend to gardens at community hubs like libraries, assisted living centers, and museums. Here’s just one highlight. The health center, One Community Health, is a modern building in a Hood River low-income neighborhood with many Hispanic neighbors. Master Gardeners, led by Kathy McGregor, assign plots, install drip irrigation, compost, teach, and keep the garden blossoming.