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Garden Mentors Grow Again

The Garden Mentors completed their 6th year teaching apartment residents

The High Rise Garden Mentor program is a partnership with the St. Paul Public Housing Agency. Participants come from the agency's high rises and apply to take the weekly gardening classes which include an initial orientation and then six 2-hour classes in gardening skills. The goal of the project is to provide residents with basic resources and knowledge they they can then share with their neighbors as they garden at their sites. They become the Garden Mentors for their community. The High Rise Garden Mentor program has been a Ramsey County Master Gardener project in its current format since 2017.

Master Gardener Jamie A explains a class activity to a group of high rise residents
Every other week, Master Gardener volunteers led an in-person garden activity

In 2022, nine residents from three different high rises participated. The lectures were held virtually (online) and alternated each week with an in-person hands-on activity class. Ramsey County Master Gardener volunteers Jamie Aussendorf, Roger Hintze and Lesley Perg taught from the beginning on March 1 and concluding on April 12, 2022.

This year, the presentations covered the following.

  • Learning about plant needs

  • Growing and maintaining healthy indoor plants

  • Growing plants from seed

  • Vegetable gardening

  • Pests, pathogens and IPM

  • Pollinator-friendly gardening

  • Nature heals

Hands holding a bean seed to separate it as part of a Garden Mentor activity
Bean seeds are a great tool for showing seed anatomy and explaining how plants grow

The activities involved feeling different soil samples, deconstructing bean seeds, planting micro greens, learning about flower parts, reading seed packets, making a planting calendar, making seed tapes and making a framed art piece with dried flowers. The residents also learned about square foot gardening.

Each week during the activities class, participants were asked to share

  • THREE things learned

  • TWO things they wanted to know more about

  • ONE question that they still had

This became the basis for many interesting discussions each week and also helped guide the Master Gardener volunteers in understanding what the participants were taking away from the classes as well as provide practical answers to questions they might have.

After taking the course, the Garden Mentors help organize gardening activities at their residencies and help their neighbors find resources for tackling gardening challenges.

Jamie Aussendorf

Garden Mentor Project Co-Lead

RCMG Volunteer


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