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Garden Coach Program Updates

We had mixed results in 2021 but we learned a lot!

Jan 15, 2022


First, we'd like to thank everyone who volunteered last spring to be part of the first year of the Garden Coach Project. It was a year of great uncertainty within the St Paul Public Schools (SPPS) system and, as a result, we had mixed results within the project but we learned a lot! In addition, the resounding success of the Tulip Test Project which was run with the school system in the fall, the Garden Coach program is a great example of the great outcomes that can come from our mutual partnership.


The remainder of the current (2021-2022) school year faces equal uncertainty so we have decided to use our learnings to make some changes to the project in 2022. This is intended to provide an overview of the 2022 project as well as to ask if you would like to continue as a volunteer for it.


In the near future, we will post a sign up on Sign Up Genius for this project. This will only be sent to those who volunteered in 2021. Those who sign up will be considered to be in the pool of volunteers for the project this year.

Name Change: Garden Partners

First, we are changing the name of the project from Garden Coach (old) to Garden Partners (new) to better reflect the equal status of the teachers and Master Gardeners and hopefully, to make the project more inviting to the teachers.

Improved Teacher-Volunteer Alignment

Kirsten Saylor, the SPPS Garden Specialist Consultant plans to have in-depth conversations to those teachers who have expressed interest in school gardens to better assess their readiness and willingness to partner with a Master Gardener Volunteers this school year. Kirsten will relay the names of the teachers and schools who are prepared to go ahead to the RCMG Youth Coordinators, Susan Cathey and Ed Shinbach.


Susan and Ed will then contact Master Gardeners from a list of interested volunteers to provide matches for each school. (Master Gardener Volunteers who worked with a specific school last year will have first opportunity to continue with that school.) Contact information for the teachers will be provided to each participating Master Gardener volunteer so they can contact the teacher and develop a plan together. Volunteers should contact Susan or Ed if any questions arise.


Using this approach, we expect to have a smaller number of schools working with us but hope to have a more consistently positive outcome.


Organization Changes

There will be no regular group Zoom discussions as there were last year.


Timeline

There will be at least two (2) dates selected to distribute seeds and plants for the gardens. Currently, we plan to distribute seeds on March 5 and distribute plants on May 16 but these dates could change. Once the dates are confirmed, we will request Garden Partners Project volunteers use Sign Up Genius to assist with the distribution. If there are any additional "group projects" needed to support the programs, we will take a similar approach.


Thanks again for your willingness to participate in this pioneering project!


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Susan Cathey

RCMG Youth Projects Co-coordinator




Ed Shinbach

RCMG Youth Projects Co-coordinator





School-based projects range from providing telephone advice to implementing a complete gardening curriculum. Master Gardener volunteers may work directly with students to stratify seeds, plant them, transplant the seedlings, and finally plant them in a school garden or watershed district project, or they may consult with teachers and provide feedback or advice.


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