Sponsored By
Missouri Ruralist logo

Master Gardeners plant extra rows for food pantriesMaster Gardeners plant extra rows for food pantries

The COVID-19 pandemic depleted many food banks; MU Extension is working with gardeners to fill the gap.

June 18, 2020

2 Min Read
Man on tractor tilling soil near a church
PLANT PRODUCE: Master Gardener Tom Ruf tills ground on the site of a new community garden at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Arnold, Mo. Courtesy of Jefferson County Master Gardeners

Master Gardener chapters across Missouri planted extra rows of produce to donate to local food banks and food pantries struggling to keep up with an influx of patrons during the COVID-19 crisis.

As the extent of food insecurity became visible, David Trinklein, University of Missouri Extension horticulturist and Master Gardener state coordinator, reached out to chapters across the state to see if members would plant more rows of produce in their gardens to donate to local food banks and food pantries. And they responded.

Local support

Debi Kelly, horticulture specialist and Master Gardener chapter coordinator in Jefferson County, says Master Gardeners in her area already were thinking about helping others through growing fresh food even before the coronavirus.

Related: Complete coronavirus coverage

“There were five Master Gardeners who belong to a church in my county creating a community garden this year,” Kelly says. “They're going to try to feed folks in need at their church and donate everything else that's left over to the food bank in the area.”

Part of Master Gardeners’ mission is to extend their knowledge to help others, even when communities are not experiencing unusual circumstances.

One example of the work the volunteers do: “We had a nonambulatory residence home reach out looking for gardening advice,” Kelly says. “We advised them on what would look nice and explained what to look for in a landscaper. Now, a couple of my Master Gardeners help maintain that garden once a week and interact with the residents of the home.”

Get involved

When COVID-19 halted face-to-face programming, Kelly and fellow MU Extension specialists immediately transitioned in-person offerings online. Despite the abrupt shift, Master Gardeners didn't lose their passion for horticulture, Kelly said. Ninety percent of her class continued their lessons and even found new ways to serve their communities.

As Master Gardeners step up to the challenge, MU Extension and community members continue to work together to provide others with the support they need in trying times.

The Master Gardener program provides in-depth horticultural training to individuals throughout Missouri who then volunteer their time applying what they have learned to help others in their communities learn about gardening. In 2019, more than 2,600 Master Gardeners contributed almost $4 million in volunteer service hours to Missouri communities.

To become involved in a Master Gardener chapter near you, contact your county MU Extension center. Learn more at mg.missouri.edu.

Source: University of Missouri Extension, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Read more about:

Covid 19
Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like