Queen Anne’s County Master Gardeners Celebration 20 Years

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The University of Maryland Extension (UME) Master Gardener Program began in 1978 as a means to extend research-based knowledge to the general public by providing horticultural and pest management expertise to help protect and improve Maryland’s natural resources. Today, this popular program can be found in 20 Maryland counties and Baltimore City.

UME Master Gardeners are volunteers who combine their love of plants, people, and the environment to help residents in their communities solve problems and make environmentally-sound decisions. In 1998 under the guise of then UME County Extension Director Paul Gunther, funding was secured to establish the Master Gardener Program in Queen Anne’s County. Danielle Fitzgo was hired as the Horticulture Educator and Master Gardener Coordinator where she developed the first training class of 25 interns who became original Master Gardener Volunteers on the Eastern Shore. This class was made up of residents from Queen Anne’s, Caroline, Kent, Talbot, and Dorchester Counties. In the years following, funding was secured for Master Gardener Programs in Talbot and Dorchester counties. Throughout our 20 years of service to the county and it’s residents the Queen Anne’s County Master Gardener Program has trained over 1,800 people and has contributed over 65,000 hours of volunteer service equating to over 1.6 million dollars to Queen Anne’s County.

The University of Maryland Extension Ask A Master Gardener Plant Clinic Program focuses on outreach education about plant and pest problems. Residents get their questions answered at plant clinics typically held at libraries and farmers markets.The Queen Anne’s County Master Gardener cater to residents at both the Kent Island Farmers Market and the Chestertown Farmers Market.

When the Farmers Market opened on Kent Island, it offered the opportunity for community outreach and Master Gardener Karen Wimsatt led the way with this program in 2012. Since then, our “Ask a Master Gardener” booth is held the 2nd Thursday of every month from 3:30 to 6:30 pm (830 Romancoke Rd, Stevensville, Maryland 21666).

Queen Anne’s County Master Gardeners celebrated 20 years at the Prospect Bay Country Club on Wednesday, October 17, 2018. Photo taken by: Paul Rickertt

Master Gardener Dave Gauntt started the “Ask a Master Gardener” plant clinic in Chestertown in 2007 at the Saturday morning Farmers Market. We started small with a table, some handouts, and a display board, but it gave us visibility. In 2009, Master Gardener Sabine Harvey took over the coordination of the Chestertown plant clinics.Over the years, our set up and our number of plant clinics have grown. The Ask a Master Gardener booth is held every other Saturday during the growing season from 8-noon at the Chestertown Farmers Market in Fountain Park.

The University of Maryland Extension Bay-Wise Program focuses on water quality. It comprises a comprehensive set of environmental topics that affect the quality and quantity of water here in Maryland. Most of these topics relate to landscape management, however, a few, like hydrology, wells & septic systems, hazardous household products, and water conservation, address household issues. Like many of our programs this service is free and open to the public. Bay-Wise consultations focus on practices of healthy lawn maintenance, storm water management, insect and disease control, composting waste, and selecting native plants and trees that enhance your property with minimum upkeep.  To date the Queen Anne’s County Master Gardener Bay-Wise Program has certified over 200 residential and public properties.

Along with our Bay-Wise Program, the Master Gardeners maintain the Centreville Library Raingarden.  The rain garden at the public library in Centreville was developed and constructed through the collaborative efforts of several agencies and individuals of varying disciplines.  In the spring of 2007, the Queen Anne’s County Department of Public Works was awarded a grant from Maryland Department of Natural Resources for the design and construction of a rain garden to improve water quality and reduce stormwater runoff at the Queen Anne’s County Library in Centreville, Maryland.

Collaborating with University of Maryland Extension of Queen Anne’s County Master Gardeners, a concept plan was prepared which involved locating a rain garden on a parcel adjacent to the parking lot and rear entrance of the library, replacing an existing swale that directed stormwater runoff from the parking lot and roof to the town’s storm sewer, and ultimately into the Corsica River. In a rain event, 11,600 sq.ft. of parking lot and 1,300 sq. ft. of rooftop for a total of 12,900 sq.ft. of impervious area drain to the 1,440 sq.ft. rain garden.  During a 2-year storm (3.3”) 25,476 gallons of runoff drain to the garden.  In providing 25,500 gallons of storage, the rain garden effectively handles runoff for the 2-year storm.

The University of Maryland Extension Grow It Eat It (GIEI) Program is a subset of the UME Master Gardener program. It was launched in 2009 to teach Marylanders how to grow food in home, community, and school gardens. Over the past nine years, Master Gardeners (MGs) have taught hundreds of classes, developed demonstration gardens, and helped thousands of individuals and groups start their own food gardens. The specific vision of the GIEI program is 1 million Marylanders producing their own affordable, healthy food. The mission is to help people improve human and ecological health by growing their own food and using sustainable gardening practices. The Queen Anne’s County Program has four Grow It Eat It Gardens in which we teach classes and donate food to local food banks.

• Galilee Community Garden (Chester, MD)
• Sudlersville Elementary School Garden (Sudlersville, MD)
• Washington College Campus Garden (Chestertown, MD)
• Kent County Middle School Garden (Chestertown, MD)

For further information about the Master Gardener Program please call or email the University of Maryland Extension Queen Anne’s County Master Gardener Coordinator, Rachel Rhodes, at 410-758-0166 or rjrhodes@umd.edu or see us on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/QueenAnnesCountyMasterGardeners

University of Maryland Extension programs are open to all people and will not discriminate against anyone because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry, or national origin, marital status, genetic information, or political affiliation, or gender identity and expression.

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