Author: Stacey Stearns

FULL: Learn Gardening Fundamentals in New Online Course

four pots on the ground with different plants growing in them
Photo: Markus Spiske

Class is full, stay tuned for the next session. Interested in how plants grow? Do you want a healthy, productive, and sustainable landscape for your home?  UConn Extension now offers the Fundamentals of Home Gardening, an asynchronous online series of classes covering a wide variety of gardening topics. These classes explore the foundation of good gardening practices, and help explain the “why” of successful gardens.  Taught by UConn Extension educators and specialists, and drawing on the Extension Master Gardener curriculum, this four-part, online series can be taken at your own pace, at times that work for you. Choose just the segments you’re interested in or complete all four components and earn a certificate of completion in the Fundamentals of Home Gardening.

The four modules cover Core Fundamentals, Environmental Factors, Ornamental Plants and Growing Your Own Foods. Each module is independent and does not require any prerequisites. All modules will be available by the end of April, and a registrant will have six weeks to complete the three or four classes contained per module.

Modules are $150 each. A flyer with more information is available. Registration is at https://uconnmastergarden-ers.gosignmeup.com/  or for more information, contact sarah.bailey@uconn.edu.

Job Opening: UConn Extension Master Gardener Coordinator-Lower Fairfield County

Sarah-volunteerThe UConn Extension Master Gardener Program is seeking applications for the position of Master Gardener Program Coordinator for Lower Fairfield County, based at the Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens in Stamford, CT. This is a 16-hour-per-week position and is a temporary, six-month appointment. Renewal is optional pending coordinator review and availability of program funding.

Responsibilities include but are not limited to: provide leadership for the Master Gardener Program in southern Fairfield County. Successful candidate will coordinate staffing of program mentors, volunteers and interns; work with UConn Extension center/county based faculty and staff, as well as university-based faculty and staff as needed. Will also need to work with allied community groups and Extension partners such as the CT Master Gardener Association; train and supervise interns when classroom teaching is completed; arrange for and conduct Advanced Master Gardener classes each year; develop and coordinate outreach programs and projects with community organizations in southern Fairfield County, including the Bartlett Arboretum. They will prepare annual reports on program activities, impacts, incomes, outcomes (number of clientele contacts); and communicate effectively with the state coordinator, other county coordinators, and the Bartlett Arboretum staff. Monthly reports shall be communicated to the state coordinator and topical information may be shared with others as requested.

Preference will be given to candidates who are Certified Master Gardeners, or with a degree in horticulture, botany, biology or equivalent experience. Interested applicants should possess strong organizational, communication and interpersonal skills and be able to show initiative. They should be able to demonstrate experience in working collaboratively as well as independently, and be willing to work flexible hours including some evenings and weekends. Must be familiar with Microsoft Office and must be comfortable with on-line communications and programming. Volunteer experience is desired.

Submit letter of application, resume and names of three references to:
Sarah Bailey, State Extension Master Gardener Coordinator at sarah.bailey@uconn.edu
Please put Master Gardener Coordinator Position in the subject line.

If you are unable to use email, you may send it to:
Sarah Bailey
State Extension Master Gardener Coordinator
UConn Extension
270 Farmington Avenue, Suite 262
Farmington, CT 0632

Screening will begin immediately.

State of the Garden: Coronavirus

UConn Master Gardener LogoIn the 40 years of the UConn Extension Master Gardener program, we have never faced anything quite this … unknown. This isn’t a flood, or hurricane, with a clear finish. This pandemic is an onslaught: health, finances, social interactions, and daily routines are all impacted.

What doesn’t change is the incredible value of gardening; of digging our hands into the soil, of the warmth of the sun on our faces, of fresh food and beautiful vistas, of the sounds of the garden and the wild spaces around us.

As a friend, Gary Oppenheimer of AmpleHarvest, said recently, “Gardening has NOT been cancelled”. Our Master Gardener programming and volunteer work will continue as scheduled, although we will have to be creative in some areas.

Here’s where we stand today:

The 2020 Master Gardener class is continuing on schedule. We have moved the remaining five weeks to an all-online format with online discussions replacing the half-day in-class sessions. This allows us to stay on schedule and we will continue to add new content opportunities as we go forward.

As many of you are aware, the CMGA symposium has been postponed until fall. They will update us as more information becomes available.

We are in the midst of arranging Hot Topics. Originally scheduled for May, it is likely that we will now hold a virtual Hot Topics online. My hope is that it will be interactive. Stay tuned….

Outreach and Office Hours:  Many of our outreach projects will not be impacted by the social distancing restrictions, others will. We will adapt as needed to current and evolving restrictions and we will develop new opportunities that best respond to new needs in our communities. If you have thoughts on how we can best respond to the new reality, please don’t hesitate to share them.

Office hours fall within the current recommended group size. Many of our clients may not want face-to-face interactions; we are looking into options such as online “office hours” and promoting the use of email for communication. For anyone who has underlying health concerns (their own or an immediate family member) making face-to-face contact unwise, we will adjust and adapt.

In summary, this is a time of change, adaptation and creative thinking. There are a lot of unknowns, and it’s likely we will be dealing with this reality into at least some of the summer. We are, however, versatile. We are resilient. Gardeners are constantly adapting to the changes in the surrounding environment; this is just one more. Please do not hesitate to share ideas, issues and concerns with me or with your coordinators.

Getting outside into the fresh air and the sunlight is one of the recommendations for offsetting the negative reactions to social distancing. We’re ahead of the curve!

Keep Calm, and Garden on,

Sarah Bailey

State Program Coordinator, Master Gardener Program

sarah.bailey@uconn.edu