University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources
University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources
University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources
University of California
University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources

UCCE Client Stories - Gardening

Ailing oak trees benefit when UC Master Gardeners identify overwatering problem

Oak tree irrigation
The Farrows called their local UCCE Master Gardeners when they noticed that oak trees on their property were dying. A group of Master Gardener volunteers made a home visit and identified the base problem as overwatering. They gave the Farrows some strategies for implementing proper and efficient irrigation, and by following those strategies the Farrows were able to save their trees. The Farrows were so impressed with the results that they decided to go ahead and become Master Gardeners themselves. They have just completed their first year in the program.

Demonstration garden becomes fresh produce grocer to Contra Costa free meals program

A nonprofit center that feeds people in need contacted UCCE Master Gardeners in Contra Costa County. The center had been struggling to find a source for affordable, fresh produce to include in their meals. The UC Master Gardeners keep a demonstration garden in Walnut Creek where they grow a number of edible plants, and they decided to donate all of their harvested produce to the center. Over the past growing season, the Master Gardeners donated more than 4,000 pounds of fresh produce to the center, delivering every bit of it on the same day it was picked.

Drought-year water savings for Sonoma gardener, courtesy of UC Master Gardeners

Organic mulch
Sally* contacted the Sonoma County UC Cooperative Extension office earlier this year. She was looking for ways to lower her water bill, and felt like she might be using too much water in her garden. UCCE sent a team of Garden Sense Specialists from the UC Master Gardener program to her home, where they helped her pick out low-water plants, convert her garden to drip irrigation, and install mulch that helps the soil retain moisture. Not only has Sally lowered her water bill; she is also helping the environment, especially in this year’s drought conditions, by saving thousands of gallons of water.

Frustrated backyard gardener finds success is just a few questions away

Living on a limited income in Sacramento County, Alison was struggling with trying to grow a vegetable garden at home as a source for fresh, affordable produce for her family. She just couldn’t seem to keep her plants alive, and she had no idea what she was doing wrong. One day at the Wellspring Women’s Center, Alison happened to see a UC Master Gardener presentation on container gardening. She encouraged her family to start attending events at their local community garden, and with the help of the Master Gardeners she and her teenage children are now growing a thriving garden of vegetables and herbs and making more home-cooked meals together.

Grant funds help UC Master Gardeners teach thrifty gardening to low-income families

The San Fernando Valley is home to many low-income Spanish-speaking families who struggle to provide healthy, affordable food for their families. Many are interested in growing their own food, but lack the resources or the know-how to get started. To help them along, Los Angeles County UCCE Master Gardeners partnered with Meet Each Need with Dignity (MEND), a local nonprofit. MEND received a generous grant from Wells Fargo to provide bilingual gardening classes and help set up home gardens for 72 eligible families. The UCCE Master Gardener team helped each family design a garden for their home, taught them about all aspects of gardening from composting to pest management, and provided training on food safety, preservation, and storage.

Home-grown produce helps immigrant feel at home, thanks to UC Master Gardeners

Home Garden Tomatoes
Jaime, an immigrant from Mexico who lives in San José, found it difficult at first to maintain a healthy diet in California since he had no way to get the vegetables he had been familiar with in Mexico. With help and advice from UC Master Gardeners, Jaime was able to create a productive organic garden in his own yard. Master Gardener volunteers taught him how to grow vegetables and fruit trees how to foster beneficial insects that keep many pests in check. According to Jaime, “This program has completely changed my diet and my mentality on food and nutrition. Since starting the program last April, I have lost 20 pounds and my wife and I are now vegetarian and will only eat organic produce.”

UC Master Gardener helps Redlands kids find best veggie varieties for school garden

As part of their school curriculum, students at Grove Charter School in Redlands are expected to grow their own produce and sell it at the school’s weekly farmers market. The school’s garden land has grown to about 3 acres, and recently the students and teachers felt they needed some advice on what to grow. UC Master Gardener Cathryn Oltman stepped up to the plate, joining the school’s Agriculture Advisory Council. She helped the school develop a list of winter vegetables that are highly tolerant of pests and would be relatively easy for students to grow. For each suggested crop, she included information on planting times, growth patterns, and the plant’s water and sunlight needs. Cathryn has been instrumental in the success of the school’s winter garden and helping the students get the most out of their crops.

UC Master Gardeners' garden plan creates new social, activity center for Sonoma seniors

Senior Adult in garden
A senior housing facility in Sonoma County wanted to create a gardening program for resident seniors. The organizers contacted the county UCCE office and were put in touch with the local UC Master Gardener program. Three Master Gardener volunteers met with the residents to help plan out the new garden, select appropriate crops, gather seed donations, and build gardening skills. That garden is now the center of some of the most popular activities at the senior facility, and provides a significant amount of the facility’s food. Residents are already planning their garden for next year!

UC Master Gardeners: from a good idea in 1980 to statewide boon today

When he recognized a need for community gardening education in Riverside County, UCCE advisor Ted Stamen partnered with UCCE research specialist Jim Grieshop to start the first California Master Gardener program. The year was 1980. Since then, the program has grown considerably: trained Master Gardener volunteers now contribute more than 12,000 hours of their time to the program every year. Today’s UC Master Gardener program is active in 43 counties, training volunteers in horticulture, pest management, water management, and other urban environmental issues. Master Gardener volunteers are trained by UCCE advisors and others, and they in turn share their knowledge and skills with members of the public. The ultimate benefits are many, not least improved conservation of water and other natural resources and enhancement of the living environment throughout our state.

Veggie gardening: "Try it. You'll like it!" says new UC Master Gardener

Raised beds
Just the idea of gardening can seem challenging and intimidating, especially if you’ve never tried it before. That’s how Alan felt. He couldn’t understand why anyone would plant their own potatoes, when you could buy them so cheaply in the store. That was before he met up with El Dorado County’s UCCE Master Gardeners. In February 2013, the Master Gardeners helped Alan start his first garden. Taking what he learned from them, he installed a deer fence and set up raised beds. He began by planting raspberries, then added some boysenberries, and then strawberries, potatoes, rhubarb, herbs, and an assortment of annual veggies. Before long he had added seven fruit trees, set up three compost bins, installed drip irrigation, and added a special table with a sink in his garden. Now Alan has plans for his own greenhouse and has applied to become a Master Gardener trainee so he can pass along everything he’s learned. All this from a man who had never gardened before! “Now I know why you plant potatoes. The creamy, buttery, fresh taste is unlike anything you can buy in the store, and you know where it comes from!” says Alan.

Here's to another 100 years of science and service!

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