Maine Master Gardener program helps communities thrive

By Claire Adams | Jun 17, 2017

Does the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program help Maine?

Ask the hungry people who received more than 250,000 pounds of food grown last year by Master Gardener Volunteers whose work growing fruits and vegetables supported food pantries across the state. Ask the 1,500 schoolchildren who learned about growing their own food. Ask the people who benefit from more than 80 community gardens and 86 school gardens that teach where healthy food comes from and how to grow your own food.

In a world of shifting demands for food, changing environments and mounting pressures, the skills of citizens are being put to the test. In the Master Gardener Volunteer program, participants explore methods for dealing with soil, composting challenges, pests and the countless and evolving varieties of vegetables and fruits that may be grown successfully in Maine. Volunteers also gain a greater understanding of integrated pest management, pesticide use and pruning, and learn to identify the characteristics of high-performing, productive gardens.

What do volunteers get out of their service?  Well, there are lessons learned, laughter and friendships made that make the time and effort worthwhile. The joy of sharing gardening ideas or building a twig trellis with new friends while outside is hard to match among life’s simple pleasures, along with helping our communities thrive.

A powerful lesson is how effective, engaging and exceptional the University of Maine’s Extension professors are; the reach and talent of our educators and groundbreaking researchers at the university level are something we should all be proud of. Notably, Drs. David Hanley and Mark Hutton are in demand for their expertise -- around the world -- in growing vegetables and small fruits. Dr. Renae Moran is renowned for her work with fruit trees.  Prof. Mark Hutchinson, another notable agricultural industry expert, supervises the Knox/Lincoln/Waldo counties MGV program. The ever-capable and indefatigable Elizabeth Stanley manages and organizes the logistics, and is the heart and soul of the Knox/Lincoln/Waldo program, making volunteers feel welcome and supported.

The MGV program not only leverages the talent of our university professors, but also draws in the skills and knowledge of our government employees.  Megan Patterson of the Board of Pesticides Control teams up with her colleagues at BPC to ensure the volunteers fully understand the implications of using pesticides in our community garden projects and our homes, as well as explaining the laws concerning application of pesticides.

The world has no shortage of problems, and a handful of people can and do make our communities a little better. Consider becoming a Master Gardener Volunteer or donate to this worthwhile program at To find out more about the program, visit the Maine Master Gardener Volunteers’ website at

The Knox/Lincoln/Waldo Counties MGV Class of 2016-17 includes the following: Claire Adams, Appleton; Bill Bausch, Damariscotta; Mary Davis, Belfast; Karen Federle, Lincolnville; Amy Fischer, Camden; Irene Gerny, Boothbay; Anne Goodale, Tenants Harbor; Jack Green, Union; Kent Harlow, Lincolnville; Karen Jordan, Spruce Head; Marianne McKinney, Belfast; Aimee Moffitt-Mercer, Monroe; Gail Presley, Rockland; Wendy Roberts, Cushing; Kim Sullivan, Newcastle-Damariscotta; Erika Taylor, Union; Christina Vincent, North Haven; and Gabrielle Wicklow, Camden.

Claire Adams graduated from the Maine Master Gardener Volunteer program this year.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jun 17, 2017 11:55

Community gardens is and was a wonderful idea. During WW2 the community gardens were life saving due to shortages caused by the war. Also people shared foods-stuff they did not eat, so a swap went on and sharing prevailed.

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