The Giving Garden, Part 3: Kalamazoo Master Gardeners Use Garden for Outreach and Education

In two prior blog posts, I’d mentioned how the Giving Garden came into being and how the project has become sustainable for over 15 years. The vision, passion, planting, maintenance, and partnerships developed over the years yield produce to be harvested, but the Giving Garden becomes even more ‘fruitful’ in providing new opportunities for hands on learning opportunities. These learning opportunities enable volunteers to transfer their passion and skills of gardening to ‘gardeners in training’.

Both the Pumpkin Patch Event and hands on classes help extend our passion for gardening as Kalamazoo Master Gardeners and are in the spirit of the Giving Garden.

The Pumpkin Pick Event

Each October, we hold a highly anticipated event called the “Pumpkin Pick”. On a Saturday morning, employees of the companies on whose land we garden, and their families, are invited to come and pick pumpkins. Watching these children run around looking for that perfect specimen is indeed a joy. I think our garden crew gets as much enjoyment from this event as do the children

Pumpkin Pick Activity at the Giving Garden

Pumpkin Pick Activity at the Giving Garden (Photo: JC Schneider, Kalamazoo (MI) Master Gardener)

Giving Garden Pumpkin Pick

The Giving Garden Production Garden hosts the annual Pumpkin Pick event (Photo: JC Schneider, Kalamazoo (MI) Master Gardener)

Hands-on Seminars and Courses

In addition to being a production garden, this garden also serves as a teaching garden. A number of people volunteer just to learn gardening by working with our Master Gardener staff.

“Vegetable Gardening 202” seminars are given at the garden on a variety of topics. This past year we built 4 raised beds that we use as demonstration gardens for those interested in constructing and growing in raised beds. We also help other local community gardens by providing consultation and seminars.

Three of our coordinators developed and teach a 12 hour, 6 week, vegetable gardening course, “Vegetable Gardening 101 Plus”, each year prior to the growing season. This course has been so well received that we have had to expand it to two sessions each spring!

Giving Garden Classes on Rasied Beds

Giving Garden Classes on Raised Beds (Photo: JC Schneider, Kalamazoo (MI) Master Gardener)

Giving Garden Class on Raised Beds

Giving Garden Class on Raised Beds (Photo: JC Schneider, Kalamazoo (MI) Master Gardener)

Community and Volunteers Make the Giving Garden Possible

Now, this may seem redundant, but I’ll repeat here what I said in the first blog post about making this project and the learning opportunities I mentioned above possible:

Without the help we get from the community and all our volunteers, the Giving Garden project would not be possible. In 2008, Humphrey Products sold much of the land we were gardening to Kendall Electric. When Kendall realized what we were doing on that property, they supported us 100% and along with Humphrey, have been wonderful partners. Humphrey supplies all the water for irrigation, Kendall donated money for a new top of the line rototiller to replace our two 35 year old models.

Donations as well as fundraisers, held by the Kalamazoo County Master Gardeners, help fund the garden. A local radio station included us in a fundraiser; the money donated was used to build our new shed. The Food Bank also helps with expenses.

We cannot thank the community, local businesses, Michigan State University Extension and all the Master Gardeners enough for helping to make the seed that Mike Blakely planted 15 years ago grow into a project that benefits so many people, much like Jack and his beanstalk.

Blog post article submitted by JC Schneider
Kalamazoo Michigan Extension Master Gardener

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One Response to “The Giving Garden, Part 3: Kalamazoo Master Gardeners Use Garden for Outreach and Education”

  1. Florance Sneed says:

    What a treat! Looks like an outdoor experience that can clear your head and invigorate your day. God is good!