DEMONSTRATION GARDEN RENOVATION Terra Freeman, UF/IFAS Extension, St. Johns County, St. Augustine, FL.
Situation: The St. Johns County Master Gardener program maintains the 54 acres of gardens and landscape that surround the extension office as a demonstration tool. Prior to my arrival, the Master Gardener program was dysfunctional and in need of direction, education and leadership. The gardens were not conducive to supporting the horticulture departments’ educational efforts. This initiative served to meet several objectives: strengthen my relationship with the volunteers while gaining their respect as leader of the program; encourage volunteers to embrace the educational mission of the demonstration gardens; and to redesign the gardens to become more manageable and educational. Educational Methods: I developed a series of landscape design workshops that simultaneously addressed programmatic needs and volunteer management issues. Throughout this six month, six workshop series, Master Gardeners were provided the education, skill set and tools needed to redesign the demonstration gardens with my guidance and leadership. Results: 100% of 15 participants improved their landscape design skills; increased their understanding of the educational purposes of the gardens; developed a vision statement and statement of intent for the garden they volunteer in; and better understand their role as a team member of the Master Gardener program. Landscape designs were created for six different demonstration gardens maintained by Master Gardener teams and implementation of each design is underway. Conclusion: Throughout this workshop series objectives were met that contributed to a more functional and unified volunteer program, and gardens that meet the horticulture department’s programmatic needs.