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The Latest Dirt - Nov 2022

Hopeful, Happy, Cold, Rainy, and Wet Fall and Winter to You!

…A garden is the way that the land says, “I love you.”
Braiding Sweetgrass—Robin Wall Kimmerer

Hopeful, Happy, Cold, Rainy, and Wet Fall and Winter to You!
By Bill Miller


That’s not the normal salutation, but it is the wishful thinking found deep in our bones. Our plants and trees so need a deep watering, as do our souls. As light fades and nighttime arrives earlier each evening, we can feel the change in the weather and appreciate the rhythm of the seasons. Here’s to falling rain and mounting snowpack in the Sierra.

View from the ELT: Serving on the Executive Leadership Team gives one the opportunity to get a sense of the whole UC Master Gardener organization in its entirety. Evident immediately is the outstanding and generous involvement and volunteer leadership shown by so many of our members. This is an organization that does good for the community and does good for gardeners. Sharing our knowledge about horticultural best practices contributes to a more sustainable and healthier environment for all of us. What’s not great about that? It is impressive to realize how many residents of Contra Costa County we are contacting on a regular basis. Penciling figures on the back of an envelope, I estimate that all of our projects along with our newsletters “The Latest Dirt,” “News to Grow By,” our YouTube channel and blog, we reach nearly 20,000 people in our community. (Yes, some may be repeats…but still!) That’s making a difference!

And since each ELT member serves as a liaison to three or four projects and checks in with them regularly, we receive first-hand information about successes and challenges our association is facing. One of the biggest issues that comes up regularly is our need to engage our CoCoMG volunteers in meaningful and reciprocal ways, so they will be motivated to participate in the many opportunities our organization offers. Be sure to check in with a project lead and/or click on the link for JOBS, JOBS, JOBS on the top left corner of Contra Costa County VMS page to find all sorts of great ways to get involved.

Our Garden, Speaking of Making a Difference: Perhaps our labors in our personal gardens have slowed down a bit but not at Our Garden. Wednesday volunteers are still harvesting the last of the crops and sending the bounty directly to Monument Crisis Center. So far this year they’ve donated 14,000 lbs. of produce…and they have yet to harvest sweet potatoes and butternut squash, which will boost the poundage significantly. But it is not about weight; more importantly it is about providing fresh produce to those who can most benefit.

Strategic Plan 2022—2027: Over the past two years or more, UC Master Gardeners from all our projects contributed to the ideals, ideas, and goals that led to the approval of our association’s current Strategic Plan. Past and current members of the ELT took all that information and condensed the many ideas into a well-crafted and meaningful document that points us in the direction we will pursue over the next five years. We encourage you to take a close look at the Strategic Plan and see what particular goals resonate with you and your project(s). You will hear more from the ELT in future communications, but in the meantime I encourage you to look it over.

To access the current Strategic Plan, follow these steps: Sign in to ANR Portal ? Contra Costa County ? News/Docs (left side) ? Documents and Presentations (click the tab towards top of page) ? #1 Executive Committee Program Documents ? CCMG Strategic Plan 2022-26. Whew! Yes, although it is easy, it is a bit cumbersome finding documents on our portal. Don’t fret, our Strategic Plan goal #1: Improve Internal Support, we plan to “Establish an effective communications plan and improve documentation locations and access.”

December 12th Social, Recognition and Appreciation Event: How good it will be to once again gather, in person, to recognize the impressive contributions of our many UC Master Gardener volunteers. And what an opportunity to reconnect with colleagues and catch up on all the “dirt”—err…should I say “soil”?—that we have missed in this long hiatus of large gatherings. Several of our 26 New Volunteer Training mates, the class of 2023, will be in attendance. Also joining us will be our Honorary MGs (those who have resigned but who are still connected due to their tremendous service to the organization) and other special invitees from related programs. What a great occasion to meet, greet and share our excitement with all of them.

Much like the rain our gardens so crave, our time together may be just the balm we need to cultivate our connections, strengthen our ties and bring more joy to our hearts.