Master Gardener organizations are comprised of individuals brought together by their love of gardening and their desire to improve the world through horticulture. These dedicated volunteers create gardens, promote education, and hope to inspire change in their communities. Recently, the Collin County Master Gardeners Association was recognized by horticulturalists around the world as innovators for their EarthKind® Research Gardens project at Myers Park and Event Center in McKinney.
Greg Church, Ph.D., County Extension Agent for Horticulture Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Collin County, is pleased to announce that the Collin County Master Gardeners Association (CCMGA) was awarded the International Master Gardener Search for Excellence Award for Research Gardens on September 7, 2013 at the International Master Gardener’s Conference in Seattle, Washington.
“This much deserved recognition represents the hard work and dedication of the Collin County Master Gardeners to the Earth-Kind® Environmental Stewardship Research Program developed by Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Horticulture Program.”
Dr. Church says, “The Search for Excellence Awards recognizes the highest quality within our Master Gardener volunteer programs internationally. This award is not just an honor for CCMGA, but for Collin County and the state of Texas as well. The Earth-Kind® Research Gardens at Myers Park and Event Center represent a partnership between Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Horticulture Agents and Specialists, CCMGA, Myers Park and Event Center, and numerous sponsors. Since the study was implemented in 2010 scientists from across North America have come to McKinney, Texas to see the research gardens. It is encouraging to see that Earth-Kind® research and demonstration gardens are now being installed in other states.”
Jim Ewoldsen, CCMGA President adds, “The Earth-Kind® Research Gardens at Myers Park were the first in the United States, and are considered a Center for Excellence in Earth-Kind® because of the number and variety of research being conducted. Currently the Earth-Kind ® Gardens are conducting research on herbaceous perennials, roses, crape myrtles, vegetables, and grasses. The results from the research shows that Earth-Kind® landscape principles work and that many native and adapted perennials thrive here in North Texas without the use of fertilizer, pesticides, and excessive irrigation. Plans are underway to expand the project to conduct research on annuals, flowering bulbs, herbs, grapes, fruit and nut, and shade tolerant plants.”
Judy Florence, Park Manager at Myers Park and Event Center shares, “The partnership between Myers Park and CCMGA is a win-win for both groups, and the community. CCMGA gets to use our land to plant and do research, and the park gets the beauty! Through the research and demonstration gardens, people are able to come and see first-hand what Earth-Kind® planting is all about. The MG’s are readily available to talk to the public and explain their methods and research. Homeowners can see what plants have sustained in our hot Texas weather, and then can duplicate their new-found knowledge in their own yards. The CCMGA is a group of people highly dedicated to horticulture and education. Collin County is truly fortunate to have them as partners and advocates for Myers Park.”
Jim concludes, “CCMGA and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service have devoted a lot of hard work and love in developing and tending the research gardens. During the growing season you will see our local master gardeners braving all kinds of weather every week to collect the data needed to conduct the research. These volunteers take tremendous pride in the results they have achieved, knowing this research will help homeowners, landscapers, and commercial nurseries in making better informed landscaping decisions that will conserve time, money, and the environment.”
The Collin County Master Gardeners Association is an educational service organization of volunteers who are trained in horticulture, landscaping, soil improvement, water conservation, and many other topics important to Collin County gardeners. The CCMGA volunteer program is administered by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service through the Horticulture Agent in Collin County. In 2012 the Master Gardeners in Collin County contributed over 20,000 hours of volunteer work helping the Extension Service achieve their mission. For more information visit www.ccmgatx.org or call 972-548-4232.
Story submitted by Dawn Bluemel Oldfield, a freelance writer and Collin County Master Gardener