Category Archives: Gardening

Award-winning photo shows MSU Extension collaboration

MSU Extension staff member holds a plant in a garden box as small child touches it.

The mother of this child in the award-winning photo shared, “I love when my child and I can get our hands dirty together.” Photo submitted by Kendra Gibson.

A photo submitted by Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program–Education instructor Kendra Gibson titled “Exploration!” received third place in the category of “Gratitude” in the Food Policy Networks 2017 Photo Contest hosted by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. The photo of Kendra and a child symbolizes the link between MSU Extension and the Lake County Community Food Council: community-driven collaboration. MSU Extension has helped the council with capacity building and community development, based on the community’s goals and needs.

The child in the photo is exploring a garden box constructed and distributed to families by the council. The council has constructed and distributed almost 600 garden boxes in the past two years in the rural county they serve. Council volunteers have worked side by side with families sharing how to start small gardens regardless of where they live. This is reflected in the photo. The funds from the award will go to the council to support its ongoing work in service to the community. Congratulation to Kendra and the Lake County Community Food Council!

For more information about this collaboration, check out the following video that highlights the MSU Extension and Lake County Community Food Council collaboration:

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Filed under Awards, Gardening, Health and Nutrition, Partnerships

Research and outreach come Together at the Farm

Thank you to our Michigan State University (MSU) Extension and AgBioResearch faculty and staff and our partners for a successful event at the Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center (UPREC) in Chatham. Over 200 people from across the state and the Midwest attended the U.P. Food Conference: Together at the Farm program.

Together at the Farm showcased our research and outreach efforts through interaction with attendees at both of the farm sites. During the morning and the afternoon sessions, a diverse pool of presenters offered over 20 workshop opportunities such as ruminant grazing systems, composting for soil quality, sustaining a school garden program, year-round herb production in greenhouses, small farm tools and implements and understanding policy to support local food systems. Presenters included MSU faculty, but the event also capitalized on local expertise and guest speakers. The evening included a keynote speaker and dinner, followed by a barn dance.

For attending, participants could receive credit in Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) Phase I, Master Citizen Planner and State Continuing Education Clock Hours.

We would like to thank all of our partners that made Together at the Farm possible: the U.P. Food Exchange, the Marquette Food Co-Op, the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department and MAEAP. Thank you to all of our event sponsors for making the program possible. Interested in finding out more about the event and our sponsors? Visit upfoodexchange.com. We hope that you’ll be able to join us next year.

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Filed under Agriculture, Agriculture and Agribusiness, Field Days, Gardening, Horticulture, Partnerships, Uncategorized

MSU celebrates National Pollinator Week

Michigan State University (MSU) hosted two events on June 19, Bee Palooza and Science on Tap: Beezzz & Brewzzz to celebrate National Pollinator Week.

Bee Palooza, a free, fun and educational event centered on understanding pollinators, is designed for people of all ages. MSU Horticulture Gardens hosted displays that focused on honeybee colonies, bumble bees, the wild bees of Michigan, plants to support pollinators and the importance of bees and other pollinators to the food supply. Hands-on workshops engaged visitors on how to create a native bee hotel and how to identify pollinators in their gardens.

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Beezzz & Brewzzz, an adults-only event, took place at the Beer Grotto in Lansing. Participants heard from MSU experts Dr. Jason Gibbs, Dr. Meghan Milbrath and Dr. Rufus Isaacs about native bees, the work Michigan is doing to protect our pollinators and the role of bees in your favorite drinks. Following the presentations, entomology graduate students answered questions from the audience on topics ranging from the types of flowers to plant for bees and general bee biology to beekeeping regulations in Lansing. There were also special bee-related drinks on tap for the night. Over 100 people attended throughout the night and many received raffle giveaways including photo prints of wild bees taken by Jason Gibbs, pocket guides, local honey, native bee hotels, T-shirts and a Beer Grotto gift certificate.

Are you interested in knowing more about pollinators in Michigan or have you gotten calls with questions about them? Dr. David Smitley worked with a team of entomologists to put together “Protecting and Enhancing Pollinators in Urban Landscapes for the U.S. North Central Region,” a free 30-page PDF resource they hope will answer nearly every question that gardeners, landscapers and tree care professionals may have about protecting pollinators.

Michigan is a leader in honey production and in many pollination-dependent fruit and vegetable crops. With worldwide concerns about pollinator declines, we’re seeking to raise awareness about their importance and spread the word about what individuals can do to help. MSU Extension provides the latest information on pollinators and pollination including fact sheets from the Smart Gardening Program, webinars, educational seminars, email newsletters and other online resources.

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Filed under Entomology, Events, Gardening, Horticulture

Smart Gardening may be coming to a garden show near you

It may not feel like it with the months of freezing temperatures we’ve been experiencing in Michigan, but spring is coming soon! If you’re going to be starting a garden, you may be interested to hear about the Smart Gardening initiative, which started in 2013 and will continue to promote science-based gardening, environmental awareness and sustainability to home gardeners across the state.

The Smart Gardening initiative began when the consumer horticulture team realized that home gardeners were missing some simple but extremely helpful advice. The team worked with communicators Joy Landis and Mallory Fournier to develop resources for repetitive, consistent use of a small number of concise messages. They labeled messages they developed as Smart Lawns, Smart Plants and Smart Soils. The team includes Rebecca Finneran, Rebecca Krans, Mary Wilson, Gretchen Voyle, Mary Gerstenberger, Karen Burke, Carol Lenchek, Bob Bricault, Diane Brown-Rytlewski, Elise Carolan, Linda Whitlock and Hal Hudson.

The Smart Gardening concepts are used in multiple ways across the Gardening in Michigan website, as well as other media sources, but the key to launching these messages is promoting them at booths at gardening shows across the state. The consumer horticulture team recruits Master Gardeners to work in the exhibit displays. The Master Gardeners engage people strolling by, share the messages and collect demographics and topics of interest from anyone viewing the display. Other educational opportunities are also presented by experts. Michigan State University (MSU) Extension news articles regularly feature the smart messages as well.

This year, Smart Gardening will be featured at four shows during the pre-garden season. All of you are encouraged to attend and invite gardening enthusiasts to learn more about the Smart Gardening principles. The upcoming shows include:

Cottage & Lakefront Living Show – Detroit
Suburban Collection Showplace
46100 Grand River Ave.
Novi, MI 48347
Feb. 26 ‒ March 1

West Michigan Home and Garden Show
Devos PlaceSmart Gardening Show
303 Monroe Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
March 5 ‒ 8

Lansing Home & Garden Show
MSU Pavilion
4301 Farm Lane and Mt. Hope
East Lansing, MI 48823
March 19 – 22

Garden Extravaganza Gardening Conference
Northern Michigan University UP Campus
1401 Presque Isle Ave
Marquette, MI 49855
April 11

Smart Gardening events have reached a diverse audience by interacting with rural and urban audiences through events across the state; these public events drew people from more than 50 of Michigan’s 83 counties and two surrounding states. In addition, we’ve seen increased use of MSU Extension resources such as the Gardening in Michigan website and MSU soil test kits since the implementation of this program. Great work from the consumer horticulture team!

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Simple but smart

Many people tend their gardens and care for their lawns but not everyone knows how to approach these tasks in an environmentally friendly fashion that can save money. Michigan State University Extension educators and specialists are doing their part to make sure that folks become knowledgeable about earth-friendly, research-based lawn-care and gardening techniques through the Smart Gardening initiative.

MSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer Judy Workman (right) of Oakland County helps a client

MSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer Judy Workman (right) of Oakland County helps a client learn about using native plants in the landscape at the Cottage and Lakefront Living Show in Novi on February, 21, 2013. (Photo: Rebecca Finneran)

According to Extension educator Rebecca Finneran, it all started when MSU professor of entomology David Smitley said to her, “Rebecca, the commercial green industry folks are doing a great job of implementing MSUE research to help be better stewards of the environment but not homeowners ‒ why not?”

Rebecca realized that the message needed to be reinforced with home gardeners. Rebecca and the consumer horticulture team members’ desire to reach home gardeners about getting smart about the environment launched the Smart Gardening initiative. Throughout this campaign, the message of smart gardening comes across in everything they do.

Besides Rebecca and Dr. Smitley, other members of the Smart Gardening team include Bob Bricault, Mallory Fournier, Mary Gerstenberger, Gary Heilig (retired), Hal Hudson, Joy Landis, Carol Lenchek, Beth Stuever, Gretchen Voyle, Linda Whitlock and Mary Wilson.

The team’s directed outreach focuses on three simple messages: smart soils, smart lawns and smart plants. That’s it. Simple but smart.

The smart gardening team along with Master Gardener volunteers got out their smart messages to the public at Ag Expo and at home and garden shows in Novi and Grand Rapids that reached approximately 45,000 people. The educators delivered 16 mini-seminars at the two shows.

MSU Extension horticulture educator Mary Wilson (left) shares gardening expertise

MSU Extension horticulture educator Mary Wilson (left) shares gardening expertise Feb. 21, 2013, at the Cottage and Lakefront Living Show in Novi, Mich. This was just one of a series of 16 Smart Gardening lectures provided by MSU Extension staffers at two public shows in winter 2013. (Photo: Rebecca Finneran)

The Gardening in Michigan website redesign produced the Smart Gardening website where folks could not only access fact sheets and watch videos, but also leave their live questions in an “Ask an Expert” box. The team distributes electronic fact sheets across the state to all of the district coordinators who in turn give them to local leaders such as county commissioners who place them in e-newsletters.

The team and volunteers have had thousands of discussions with clients and have distributed nearly 32,000 Smart Gardening tip sheets. They’ve continuously reinforced the smart gardening message through public outreach, conferences, classes, seminars, media work, websites and day-to-day discussions. And of course, it’s all research-based.

Going forward, the team is collaborating with the Ohio State University Extension to pool resources to create an even stronger impact.

A Smart Gardening Conference will take place Sept. 14 in Marquette. Read more here.

The Smart Gardening initiative connects people to the tools they need to care for their lawns and gardens while protecting the earth and saving money as well.

MSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer Linda Dodge of Kent County directs a client

MSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer Linda Dodge of Kent County directs a client to learn more about reducing the use of phosphorous in her lawn March 1, 2013, at the West Michigan Home and Garden Show in Grand Rapids. (Photo: Rebecca Finneran)

 

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Take Extension educator’s advice on recycling your Christmas tree

Many of you chose a fresh Michigan pine or spruce to pose as the stately center of your festivities this holiday season. Now the celebrations have ceased, and what was once the focus of attention and symbol of good cheer heads for the compost pile.

Rebecca Finneran, Michigan State University Extension educator, offers up a fresh idea for your not-so-fresh tree. She suggests using boughs from the tree to protect your shrubs and perennials from hungry deer, especially now that we have an accumulation of snow over much of our landscape.

I will confess that I count on those hungry deer to help prune the rose bushes in my back yard, but there are some arborvitae I’d just as soon shape with my own pruning and not the browsing range of deer. So I’ll try protecting them as Rebecca has suggested. Still, if their mouths are tough enough to handle thorny roses, I’m wondering how pine and fir needles can deter them.

Find her helpful advice and accompanying photo on our MSU Extension website at http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/recycle_your_fresh_christmas_tree_and_protect_against_deer_browse.

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They’re growing more than vegetables in Kalamazoo County

As you know, Michigan State University Extension excels at developing partnerships that impact communities. There’s a plot of land in Kalamazoo County that is growing community as well as vegetables. Humphrey Products and Kendall Electric provide the land that is tended by Kalamazoo County Master Gardener volunteers led by Linda Whitlock, MSUE Kalamazoo County horticulture educator. Humphrey Products also provides city water and a place for volunteers to park; the city of Portage provides partially mulched leaves and Kalamazoo County loaned the use of a tractor. The partnerships do not stop there. The Food Bank of South Central Michigan will pick up the fresh produce grown in the garden and deliver it to Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes, which has seen a large increase in the need for food. More than 15,000 pounds of fresh vegetables were collected from the garden last year to feed people who are in need. For more on the story, click on http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2010/06/kendall_electric_continues_gar.html

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Filed under Gardening, master gardener