Category Archives: Spring 2015

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Master gardeners’ Cultivating Community

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Master gardeners’ mission is to serve

By Ryan Jones

Thirteen years ago a seed was planted when the North Carolina Cooperative Extension offered the Master Gardener course to residents of Davidson and Rowan counties for the first time. Today the program is fully grown and thriving with around 65 volunteers dedicated to sowing their knowledge and generosity as far and wide as they can.

download (3)Mostly hailing from Davidson County, the Master Gardeners make it their mission to beautify outdoor spaces while educating the community at large to do the same. Though their many projects are fueled by camaraderie and friendship, gaining and maintaining membership in this national program is serious business. To become a certified volunteer, prospective Master Gardeners must first complete an intensive, 40-hour course to establish their foundational knowledge of horticulture.

“The course is great. All of us joke that when you take the course you realize how much you don’t know,” said Frankie Mefford. As a graduate of the second class to be offered in Davidson County, she has witnessed the evolution of the Master Gardeners program from its earliest days with fewer than 10 participants. “It’s like a college 101 on horticulture. (You learn about) woody plants, perennials, annuals, soil, additives for a good base; parts of it go into caring for plants, pruning, and watering.”

Those who finish the course are expected to log 40 hours of volunteer service and then, to maintain membership, 20 to 30 hours of continuing education and volunteer service annually.download (2)

“It’s not a social club. It is a volunteer program. It’s a lot of training and takes a lot of work.
I think the reward is in the volunteer work. A lot of people are intimidated by that but our volunteers seem to think that it happens so quickly. One or two projects and 40 hours are gone in no time,” said Amy-Lynn Albertson, the horticulture extension agent for Davidson County. She organized the first local Master Gardener class in the fall of 2002.

“That’s kind of the fun. That’s where we’ve found a great many joys in this work,” said Joan Wright, past president of the Davidson County Master Gardener program. “We have five councils and members belong to one or more of the councils, (each of which) have a role in public education and public service.”

The continuing education and training council is responsible for organizing field trips and other activities to help members further their knowledge. The demonstration garden council plants and maintains the public gardens surrounding the Cooperative Extension office on East Center Street. The service and public education and outreach councils serve the community by sharing information at the three county-certified farmers’ markets and completing special projects to benefit those in need.

kidsGarden“Last year (the public service council) planted a special garden at (The Life Center) on West Center Street. This year it will be working on an indoor peace garden at the hospital in Lexington. It will be a place where patients and families can find a little respite from the cares most people have when they visit the hospital,” said Wright. “They’ve also worked with the (Lexington Housing) Community Development Corporation to help people with new homes figure out how to plant basic plants. The members just pitch in and take care of all these projects. You can stay as busy as you want to.”

The work of the fundraising council is perhaps the most visible, as they are responsible for two annual events that bring casual local gardening enthusiasts into the fold.

The Annual Garden Tour, now in its 11th year, pulls hundreds of people through the private gardens of five or six Davidson County residents every summer. Master Gardener volunteers staff the tour, answer questions, and provide context and insight for the plants and configurations visitors encounter along the way.

“Everything starts small,” said Mefford of the Annual Garden Tour’s beginnings. “The first year we got rained out and we had less than 100 people. Last year we did a walking tour in the Historic Uptown District in Lexington and had 600 participants. It’s grown a lot.”

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Mefford said the tour draws a variety of people – from families with young children, to older, retired adults – and raises between $5,000 and $6,000, all of which is used to further the mission of the Master Gardeners by allowing them to purchase soil, mulch, plants and other materials necessary for service projects completed throughout the year. But the ultimate goal isn’t to make money, she added. It’s to foster an appreciation for the natural world.

download (5)“A lot of people like to look at other people’s gardening. We try to teach people what to do and how to do it properly so things don’t get damaged; so they don’t plant things that are invasive to our area. Mainly it’s (the tour) about public service.”

This year the Annual Garden Tour takes place June 6 – 7 and for the first time it will be centered in Thomasville.

“We try to pick (the gardens) two years in advance so people have time to do things to their yards. We try to go all over the county. We’ve been in Wallburg, the High Rock Lake area, Welcome, Lexington and Sapona. We’re always on the lookout,” said Mefford, who admits she’s been known to walk up to a strangers’ door and knock because she noticed something special about their backyard garden. “A little added color; more than just shrubbery.”

In 2016 the tour will take place back in Lexington in the Country Club area.

A second fundraiser, the Annual Gardener Conference, draws a more concentrated crowd of botany buffs and, according to Mefford, is more a public service than moneymaking event.  This year around 120 people attended the fourth annual conference, which took place on Feb. 11 at First Lutheran Church. Speakers included Bryce Lane, host of UNC-TV’s “In the Garden,” the president of the American Camellia Society, and a Japanese maple specialist.

“One of the things that the Master Gardeners have wanted to do and have been able to do now is provide opportunities for the general public to learn about horticulture. They have a lot of opportunities for continuing education, but they wanted to offer something to Davidson County residents,” said Albertson. “The goal is to inspire and educate Davidson County gardeners about new things happening in horticulture. It was something for everyone. I felt like it was well-received. They work really hard; they’re very passionate. They want people to learn about good gardening practices.”

Wright said that for all the public service she participates in as a member of the Master Gardener Association, she experiences the most satisfaction from being around others who share her passion.

“It’s a kind of community with other persons who love gardening. A sense of fellowship in service to the community and making our own grounds and those of public places more beautiful, and helping to create a better environment physically — and an ambiance — we think is helpful for people to grow and develop in healthy ways.”

“People that dig in the dirt are just good people,” said Mefford. “They’re down to earth, easy to talk to and appreciate the people around them.”

 

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Focus Winners

The results are in and guess who the winners are this year? 

gold-trophyYou’ll have to dig into the magazine to find out, but one thing is for sure. They’re all local! A lot of people ask me about our Focus Favorites like, “How do people win?” “Do you get a lot of ballot entries?” “Do the same businesses win multiple years in a row?”

“Yes,” is the answer to all of those questions. We get a ton of ballot entries, and since making voting available online, our entries have almost tripled! There are no fancy gimmicks; we go hand by hand tallying the votes until a winner is decided. There are multiple businesses that have won and continue to win various categories year after year. That’s because they’re a favorite of our readers and they are good at what they do. It’s all about the community and what you like best about our local businesses. If you want to see a new business win a category, then mark it down next year!

Thanks to everyone who voted again this year! You’re the reason for the winners, so stop by the winning locations and tell them congratulations!

Spring is finally in the air and warm weather is on the horizon. The colors of the season are starting to bloom. In the theme of spring, the Davidson County Master Gardeners are featured in this issue. Aside from their members’ vast knowledge of flora and fauna, they also contribute to our community through service projects.

Recently, I’ve been thinking of ways our community members could get involved to help beautify our county. As I drove into Greensboro not too long ago, I couldn’t help but notice an exit ramp that was greatly trashed and polluted with food bags, cups and bottles. It saddens me to think that people give no care to this space we have to live in, and I wondered if that area was part of a community program that picked up litter and trash? If not, it crossed my mind to contact the city or state to see how I or someone else could get involved.

Not that everyone has to volunteer for an entire area, but if we all just put our trash in a proper place, recycle and help pick up after each other our world would be a more beautiful place. So this season, as the weather gets warmer, grab a pail and head outside. Let’s keep our home and community a beautiful place to live!

Best wishes for a happy and beautiful spring!

MOWcarMulTrn

Meals on Wheels

Home-delivered meals keep seniors in their own homes

imagesStarting in 1987 with two routes in Denton, the Home-Delivered Meals program at Davidson County Senior Services has grown to serve approximately 250 seniors daily on 23 routes throughout the county.  These homebound seniors, age 60 and over, rely on more than a meal when volunteers come by each weekday; volunteers may be the only visitors they see during the week.

Basically, many of these seniors could not remain independent and active in their communities without these meals and wellness checks.  As Senior Services celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, the agency continues to fulfill its mission, with community involvement, to “support, assist, and advocate for older and disabled adults and their families by offering an evolving array of programs and services to meet their present and future needs regarding their well-being, independence, involvement in their community, and the ability for them to remain in their own home.”

For many seniors in Davidson County, Home Delivered Meals is the first service that they seek for assistance to help them stay in their own homes and live independently. Without meals supplied by Senior Services, many seniors would be prematurely placed in assisted living or nursing homes due to their inability to shop for food or prepare their own meals. Home Delivered Meals help seniors who live alone without family support who may face the threat of hunger due to limitations in their daily living activities.

According to statistics from Feeding America, 17.3% of Davidson County’s total population – 27,860 residents — is food insecure. Of this group, roughly 65% are income-eligible for federal anti-hunger programs, leaving 35% who are dependent on charitable food assistance.  Based on these percentages, a conservative estimate of 5,841 individuals, age 60 and older, experience food insecurity in the county on a regular basis. There may be as many as 2,044 senior citizens who face food insecurity but do not qualify for federal food assistance.

aboutus2Currently, many Home-Delivered Meals routes suffer from a lack of enough volunteers to provide this crucial community need.  Some volunteers, who may be seniors themselves, are over-extended on routes like Silver Valley, where the chairperson delivers up to eight times each month just to keep the route afloat.  Clients on the newest route, Noahtown, receive five frozen meals once per week due to a lack of volunteers able to deliver hot meals on a daily basis.  Other routes, including Denton, Hasty, Pilgrim, Pilot, Reedy Creek, and Wallburg are also in desperate need for new volunteers.

When new service members, age 18 or older, are recruited, they must fill out an application, pass a background check, attend a volunteer orientation, and train with a meal route chairperson or experienced volunteer.  Every year, the agency has a banquet for its most dedicated volunteers, just to show a token of the community’s appreciation.  In other words, Senior Services is proud to say that its volunteers are loyal, experienced, trustworthy, and dedicated to the agency’s mission.

To learn more about becoming a volunteer with Senior Services, contact Jacob Gordon, Volunteer Services Coordinator, at 242-2948 or Jacob.Gordon@DavidsonCountyNC.gov.

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Homemade Mother’s Day

Homemade Mother’s Day – Straight from the Heart

Red_WH heart3-2-9hAll right, dads and kids, listen up! Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and this year it’s important to remember the date so you have time to plan! May 10th is the important day on the calendar. It’s not just about mothers, but grandmothers, stepmothers, godmothers and any other important person in your life who is like a mother to you. It’s time to get your hands messy and make a wonderful handmade gift that will hold a special place in your mother’s heart from this day forward. Here are some great ideas to get you started.

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A beautiful clay heart necklace or thumbprint necklace is sure to charm Mom this year. This is a simple project, but one that will remain close by throughout the year.

Supplies:

Polymer clay – this is craft clay and can be baked

Cookie cutters – the smaller the better because it will be a necklace so be careful you don’t go too big. You can skip this part altogether if you want to form your heart by hand.

Toothpick or knitting needle

Roller, if needed – metal or plastic works best so the clay won’t stick

Now the fun begins! Directions:

  1. Knead the clay for 2 minutes or per package directions
  2. Roll the clay until it’s ¼ to ½ inch thick
  3. Using your cookie cutter, cut out a heart from the clay
  4. Being very careful not to smash the heart with your hands, stick a toothpick or knitting needle through the clay
  5. Remove the needle or toothpick and check to make sure the hole will fit the chain or rope you want to feed through it after it has finished baking
  6. Place on cookie mat or parchment paper and bake based on instructions of clay. Typically, it’s 275 degrees for 15 minutes. Make sure the clay is fully cooled before handling.

Once it has completely cooled, you can paint the clay in Mom’s favorite color. Feed the string, chair twine or whatever you choose as the necklace through the clay and wrap in a pretty package.

Stepping Stone of Love

Customized stepping stones to the garden, backyard or even driveway will be a great way to surprise Mom this year. From now on Mom will remember all the love you shared with these great tokens that express how much you care.

Supplies:

  • Quick drying concrete mix
  • Aluminum pan or silicone mold of your choice
  • Cooking oil spray
  • Gems, mementos, colored rocks or accent pieces

Directions:

  1. Spray your mold with cooking spray
  2. Mix the quick drying concrete
  3. Pour concrete into mold

Now it’s time to decorate. You can write sayings on the stone, add colored rocks or accent pieces to it, or even make a hand or footprint. If you want to make a hand or foot print, spray your hands or feet with the cooking spray to make sure you leave a clean impression.

Let the stone dry completely based on concrete instructions and remove gently from mold to prevent breaking. Place the stones for Mom to see!