The Latest Dirt - March 2023
¡Saludos a los jardineros maestros, especialmente a la clase de 2023!
(Greetings UC Master Gardeners, especially the Class of 2023)
By Anne Sutherland
Jardineros (Gardeners) is a small group that wants to help underserved populations grow their food and learn gardening basics. Most of us speak Spanish but recognize that recently arrived people of Asian and Eastern European extraction may also be underserved.
A little history: First, a shout-out to the originators of our current group: Elicha Gastelumendi, Lori Palmquist and Joyce Brahms Hennessey. Second, we began by patterning ourselves after Growing Gardeners in 2020-2021, teaching a virtual course in Spanish on gardening basics. Unfortunately, despite our fabulous team of organizers, translators, speakers and researchers, perhaps because of Covid, attendance was not what we had hoped.
Currently: Several UC Master Gardeners in the original group found other activities and projects or had family obligations, but we gained new Spanish-speaking members. We have restructured our focus to serve CoCoMG projects needing Spanish-speaking support. I have made a few valuable community contacts based on reaching out to groups on their terms rather than trying to have them fit into ours.
Yolanda Gonzalez is the Operations Manager at the Monument Crisis Center in Concord and has a committed team of volunteers. She would love to have us there Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings when we could offer free seeds and advice to a captive audience. We have held two events there so far, a plant and soil giveaway last Spring, and a hands-on gardening event for one of the youth Summer Camp classes.
Through the Concord Hispanic Better Business Bureau, we were invited to set up a booth at the Festival Latino. We had many good client contacts and lots of interested children. Richard Schmidt, Mary Stewart (an unofficial member) and I got through a long day and loud music.
Marisa Neelon is the Nutrition, Family & Consumer Sciences Advisor for the UC Cooperative Extension. I met her at Families CAN Harvest Day at the Ambrose Community Garden in Pittsburg where Neal Hoellwarth and I had set up an Ask A Master Gardener table. Marisa put me in touch with the organizers of 15 Spanish-speaking graduates of her Nutrition program. These 15 women meet every Friday at Mountain Meadows Elementary School in Concord, and the organizers were delighted to have us present hands-on classes. The first class was a vegetable plant and soil giveaway and instruction about growing vegetables in containers. I was ably assisted by native speaker Sol Puenzo, who is also a teacher. The second class this past January was instruction in planting bare-root fruit trees, again with a tree and soil giveaway. We were well-received both times, and the group’s organizer Marta Flores provided excellent support.
Sol Puenzo and I are Help Desk participants and can answer questions from Spanish-speaking clients.
Future: We are part of the CoCoMG Volunteer Support Project and encourage all UC Master Gardeners, especially Project Leads, to contact me if Spanish-speaking support is needed at schools, community gardens, AAMG, or special events. I hope to nurture contacts with CoCoMGs from Alameda County to expand our reach and share ideas. The Concord Hispanic BBB and the Latin Bay Area Events website provide information regarding special events. I want to continue hands-on instruction and expand our contacts. We need to update our Web and Facebook pages. I am working on a budget for the upcoming Fiscal Year (July 2023 – June 2024).
I was out of town last year and we missed an opportunity to participate in Day of the Dead. This year I want to attend events and give away chrysanthemums and marigolds, two of the traditional DoD flowers. If any of these activities excites you readers, please contact me! ¡Dígame!