A corps of 470 local Master Gardeners answers thousands of questions every year and teaches classes to thousands of learners. The numbers add up to a significant community impact: Jackson County’s Master Gardener program is the largest in the state. These volunteers are passionate, and research-based training from the OSU Extension Service backs up their commitment. The list of their service projects is so extensive that Bob Reynolds, coordinator of OSU’s Master Gardener program in Jackson and Josephine counties, has a difficult time picking a few to highlight.
At the top of his list is the youth garden at SOREC, where every summer Master Gardeners work with about 75 children, ages 5 to 10 years old. “They plant and tend the garden all summer and have a pizza party with their fall harvest,” Reynolds said. “Some kids start at 5 or 6 years old and have stuck with it until they became junior counselors.” The youth garden is one of 24 demonstrations at the research center maintained by Master Gardeners to offer inspiration for projects people can do on their own.
In addition, Master Gardeners have built beautiful raised beds at Medford’s Gospel Mission, where they teach classes, answer questions, and help tend the vegetables for this homeless shelter’s Main Ingredient restaurant. This is one of many community and school gardens supported by Master Gardeners across southern Oregon.