The Latest Dirt - Nov 2022
¿Qué hacía Jardineros? What are Jardineros up to?
By Anne Sutherland
Many of you know that our UC Master Gardener Program Mission Statement includes reaching underserved populations in our county. To that end, a small group of us was inspired to build on the success of Our Garden, Ask A Master Gardener, Community Gardens, and School Gardens Projects by offering our assistance with their Spanish-speaking clients. Many Spanish speakers in our county are bilingual, but many are not, and to see faces light up when hearing a few words of their native tongue is heartening.
Christina Kerekis has been translating materials for the School Gardens Project. Looking forward we hope to do some short talks and videos in Spanish where they’d be of value.
Our first solo event was a plant giveaway at the Monument Crisis Center (MCC) using Great Tomato Plant Sale orphans. Thanks to a newsletter announcement by Yolanda Gonzalez, the Monument Crisis Center Operations Manager, all 50 plants quickly found homes, along with soil, manure, and pots. Chile peppers were especially popular. Yolanda would love to have us back regularly.
Yolanda again set us up at the MCC for a day of teaching and activities at their Youth Summer Camp. With outstanding help from the MCC staff, Robyn Barker, Sol Puenzo and Rosalie Frankel, we rotated the 28 kids through three tables: potting up beans, botany lessons, and Good Bug Bad Bug with numerous live specimens from Anne Sutherland’s garden. A good time was had by all.
Our first Community Garden event was the Families CAN Harvest Day, a multi-organizational gathering at Ambrose Community Garden in Bay Point. Neal Hoellwrath and Anne Sutherland staffed a table with seed giveaways, with instructions and Quick Tips available in English and Spanish. One elementary school boy was quite discriminating in his choice of seeds, clearly an experienced gardener.
In our group’s former incarnation, “Jardineros en el Huerto” (JEEH—“Gardeners in the Garden”), we had difficulty attracting clients despite reaching out to many community contacts (Covid impacted this effort). Happily, Anne found out about the next event at the Concord Hispanic Chamber of Commerce meeting she attended. The “Festival Latino” was a big multi-vendor happening with music, food, and drink, in celebration of Hispanic/Latino Month. Keith Silva generously donated his AAMG supplies to set up a booth. Fall crop seeds, pots, soil, and a few broccoli seedlings were given away to 99 contacts, several of whom spoke no English. Stickers of insects and vegetables were a big hit with the many children at the event. One client had just moved to Concord, and needed advice about her welcoming committee of roaches, bed bugs, and rats. Many thanks to my friend, Executive Committee Co-Secretary and CoCoMG colleague Mary Stewart for help on the a.m. shift, and to Richard Schmidt for help on the p.m. shift.
This month, Día de los Muertos is celebrated, but due to short notice we will not be able to staff any events. Next year the plan is to give away marigolds and chrysanthemums, traditional Día flowers. Asians are another underserved group at these events, and we will plan to have Fall crop seeds such as bok choy and onions available in the future.
Thanks to Dawn Kooyumjian for her support and encouragement!