RCMG volunteers provide Habitat for Humanity homeowners with their first gardens
How do you start a garden? Simply plant something and water it. How do you build community? Smile at your neighbors while you are watering your garden. Ramsey County Master Gardeners’ partnership with Habitat for Humanity facilitates community building by providing new Habitat for Humanity homeowners with their first gardens.
2022 Garden Teams
Over two Saturdays this past summer, nine teams of six Ramsey County Master Gardener volunteers joined new Habitat for Humanity homeowners to install new landscapes. Each team was led by a Master Gardener volunteer serving as lead designer and another as lead educator. The designers focused on leaving behind beautiful landscapes. The educators focused on leaving behind homeowners equipped to maintain their new spaces. Experienced Master Gardener volunteers guided new Master Gardener volunteers (interns) through the projects, encouraging their growth as well. In July, with rain forecast for early afternoon, the teams were a model of efficiency despite the challenges presented by clay soil. In August, an influx of Habitat for Humanity volunteers helped to finish the projects in record time.
Garden Design & Planting
The process was similar at each home. It was a marvel to watch, but if you blinked you may have missed it. At 8:30 on Saturday morning, volunteers started to gather. The homeowners, often shyly, sometimes with limited English, stepped out of their front doors and greeted the crews. A Master Gardener volunteer lead described the design plan, perhaps including Autumn Joy sedum, Purple Palace Coral Bells, Stella D’Oro daylilies, a bleeding heart, a hydrangea, a spirea and a hosta or two. These plans consist of plants familiar to experienced gardeners, selected for their reliability for beginning gardeners. Someone grabbed a wheelbarrow, others picked up shovels. Weeds were cleared and holes dug. Trees, shrubs and flowers were slipped out of their pots and into the ground. Mountains of compost and woodchips were moved. There was lots of laughter, sweat, and bottled water. A few hours later, with plants watered, sidewalk swept and tools packed, everyone gathered for a photo before heading home.
Ramsey County Master Gardener volunteers shine in so many activities but they just may shine brightest in their work with Habitat for Humanity. Designing, planning, partnering, teaching, mentoring, planting and then hauling away yard waste: working on landscapes for Habitat for Humanity homes allows master gardeners to use a full range of skills to make tangible and intangible impacts that strengthen our community.
Photos taken by Gretchen Hesli