Smart Gardening for Michigan Gardeners
What is Smart Gardening?
Science-based gardening, environmental awareness and sustainability have long been a hallmark of MSU Extension programs. Yet, Extension specialists andconsumer horticulture educators noticed that somehow these messages were not getting through. A need was identified to increase home gardener’s awareness about recent research conducted by MSU staff to increase wise use of pesticides and fertilizers and find new ways to serve a burgeoning number of Michigan gardeners.
In response to this the MSUE Consumer Horticulture team launched a multi-tiered campaign known as “Smart Gardening” to communicate uniform messages through a variety of methods, levels of intensity and different venues. Specially trained MSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers engage the general public in conversations about being a smart gardener and links them to universal tools they can tap into at home. By harnessing the cadre of easy-to-access electronic tools including the Soil Test Self-mailer, Toll-free Lawn and Garden Hotline and Gardening in Michigan website www.migarden.msu.edu, the smart gardening campaign helps learners “where they are” both physically and at their interest level. Throughout the campaign, focused messaging on three general areas; Smart Lawns, Smart Soils and Smart Plants, connects people to earth-friendly practices and protection of Michigan’s vast water and natural resources.
It Works! In the first two years, after interacting with thousands of people, evaluations have shown a high rate of adoption and “earth-friendly” thinking with this simple approach. By treating the campaign as a multi-tiered effort, messaging is easily adapted for the casual learner to a high complexity for an advanced Extension Master Gardener.
Rebecca Finneran, MSUE Consumer Horticulture Educator
Links to Smart Gardening information -
Clark Retirement Community Smart Gardening Event 2017
Four members of the Montcalm Area Master Gardener Association's Smart Gardening Volunteers teamed up with Katey Romence of Romence Gardens in Grand Rapids Michigan to sponsor a special event for some of the residents from Clark Retirement Community. The day started with a visit to Romence Gardens and an informational class about vegetables and herbs provided by Katey. Then the Smart Gardening Volunteers helped the residents do some shopping. Romence Gardens was kind enough to offer a special discount to the residents. Then we traveled to Clark Retirement Community where the Smart Gardener Volunteers helped the residents prepare the planting areas and plant their herbs and vegetables. An employee of Clark Retirement Community designed and built the planting tables with a combination of Square Foot Gardening and raised beds. The tables are very heavy and will support the weight of an adult. Two tables are lower so easy access for those in wheelchairs. This was a wonderful event and there are plans to expand to other retirement communities.
If your Smart Gardening Volunteers have held an event you would like to share please complete the Spot light form found at the side of this page.