Happy new year!
View this email in your browser

President's Letter

January 2020
By Michele Worden, AEMG

A fire is crackling as I write this, contemplating the beginning of the new year.  The garden is blanketed in white, asleep. Outside appearances are deceptive as inside we are engaged in a flurry of activity preparing for the business of MGANM and Master Gardeners in 2020.

Reminder – do not forget to renew you Master Gardener certification for 2020.  Payment for re-certification is separate from dues made to the Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan.

Every year brings changes, and this year we have changes coming to our nonprofit partner Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Grand Traverse Conservation District (GTCD).  

Historical Note:  We were the first nonprofit partner of the GTCD.  The native plant gardens surrounding the Boardman River Nature center were conceived of and installed in partnership with Master Gardeners in 2005.  At that time, the president of MGANM was Ellen Lapekas, who was also in a leadership position in the GTCD. Master Gardeners have been active in maintaining them as an educational demonstration garden ever since they were installed in 2006.  You may remember a presentation about the gardens at the 20 year anniversary celebration in 2016 the GTCD Executive director at that time, Marsha Clark and me.

Our MOU for 2018-2019 stated that Master Gardeners and/or MGANM members needed to volunteer 80 hours each year at the Grand Traverse Conservation District and/or Boardman River Nature Center in order to maintain nonprofit partner status.  Nonprofit partner status allows us some cabinet storage in the building and to hold monthly meetings in the Community room for no fee. The current nonprofit rental rate for the Community room is $40 per hour. This means the nonprofit partner MOU has a value to Master Gardeners of 7 meetings x 3 hrs x $40 = $840.  This amount would not be affordable if we had to pay it each year. Also, it has been valuable to have the Boardman River Nature Center serve as a home base for MGANM.    

We have easily met this volunteer goal in the past.  GTCD is one of our top volunteer projects and in 2019 through November we already volunteered 176 hrs according to the Volunteer Management System.  This is a $4,400 value in volunteering based upon the Independent Sector published 2019 rate of $25/hr for volunteers. In addition, Master Gardeners volunteer a significant amount of hours in Environmental Stewardship, some of which we believe is in service to the GTCD.

However, this year GTCD is adding a new requirement.  In addition to the 80 hrs of volunteering, they have asked us to provide docents to staff the main desk at the Boardman River Nature Center 3 hours each week.  This raises the number of volunteer hrs by 3 hrs x 50 weeks = 150 additional hrs. It is an increase of almost 300% in required volunteer hours. They would also like us to report our volunteer hours using their online form.

Because of the new volunteering requirements, the MGANM board is seeking your input.  Please take a moment to take this survey here.  We need to understand our ability to meet the new requirements, and if not, seek a new place to meet for 2020.  Whether we go forward with the new MOU will depend on whether the Master Gardener community can support our requirements in the MOU.  We are meeting with the new executive director at GTCD on January 15, so we will need your response by January 10 at the latest.

Thank you for all you do.

Bananas in Saint Lucia, by W. Miller


Going Bananas in Saint Lucia
By Whitney Miller, AEMG

How do you grow bananas? How long does it take to grow them for harvest?

Winter Sowing
By Tamara Premo, EMG Trainee

You can get your gardening fix even in the harshest of winters. Read about this cost-effective way to get the jump on the next gardening season.

MG Coordinator's Corner

Volunteer Selection Process (VSP) for EMGs and a new location for this spring’s EMG training program!
By Nate Walton, MSUE Master Gardener Coordinator, Consumer Horticulture Program Instructor

According to Nate, “Registration is open for this spring’s training program so please help to spread the word!” The location for the classes this year has changed. There is also NEW Volunteer Selection Process (VSP) for ALL EMG's, so please read further to discover more.

News & Events

There are so many wonderful events and workshops happening in our community that we simply cannot list them all. Please be sure to check directly with the websites and Facebook pages for these organizations and the events that they offer:
Botanical Gardens at Historic Barns Park, Boardman River Nature Center (Grand Traverse Conservation District), Plant it Wild, Wild Ones, NW Michigan Invasive Species Network, NW Michigan Horticulture Research Center, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, Saving Birds Thru Habitat, Benzie Conservation District, Leelanau Conservation District, and Leelanau Conservancy.


Volunteers are always needed to help with setup/cleanup before and after the meetings. This can earn you extra hours in addition to the 1.5 volunteer and 1.5 CE hours that you earn just by attending the meeting. Interested volunteers can sign up in the General Event Calendar on the VMS page or by contacting Michele Worden ( or Nate Walton at 231-256-9888 or (

Tuesday, January 7th 6:30 p.m. with a potluck at 6:00 p.m.  “Plant Diagnostics” with Dr. Nate Walton, MSUE Home Horticulture Educator

Tuesday, February 4th 6:30 p.m. with a potluck at 6:00 p.m. “Invasive Species in Gardens and on the Horizon” with Katie Grzesiak, Invasive Species Network

Tuesday, March 3rd 6:30 p.m. with a potluck at 6:00 p.m. “Growing Herbs” with Michele Worden, Member of Herbal Renewal study group

The educational meetings are held at The Boardman River Nature Center, 1450 Cass Road, Traverse City unless otherwise noted.  The educational meetings are open to the public.  A $5 donation from non-members is appreciated.  For more information please see the website


What do i do with that tree?

There are several options for disposing of your Christmas tree(s) in our region that support good stewardship of the land. While this list is by no means exhaustive, all programs are supported by MGANM. Make sure all ornaments, tinsel, and any plastics are off of the tree prior to disposal. 


Gardening for Winter Interest – Throwback 2017

By Cheryl Gross, AEMG

A couple years ago, Cheryl provided us with ideas on how to plan our landscape or garden to keep it interesting year-round, even in the winter months. It was such a thought-provoking article with so much useful and relevant information, we thought we would share it again. Click here to learn more!  


Calling All Gardeners
By, Lisa Hagerty, EMG and Editor for The Real Dirt

The Real Dirt represents a community of Master Gardeners and we need help from our community for the March issue. While we have always focused on the four main categories that matter to us most: Nourish, Beautify, Steward and Serve, we recently added a category for IPM. We strive to have stories that fall into each of these categories with every issue, but we don’t always reach our goal. 

Did you know you can earn volunteer hours to write for The Real Dirt? You can write about the MGANM monthly meeting you attended… write about the tree or shrub or bulbs you planted…write about the trouble you are having with one of your indoor plants and the steps you took to address it. Did you go to the library, or search online to see what others are saying? Where did you get your information? Share what you find with us, but we do like it to be science-based. You can write about anything and everything that is plant, yard or garden related, as long as it’s relevant to the current time of year. 

Remember, you don’t need to be the best writer to share a story or some insight into a topic that other Master Gardeners might benefit from. Just do your best. If it needs a little sprucing up, we will take care of it! 

If you are interested at any time, please send an email to the Editor, Lisa Hagerty at Please consider joining us in our writing efforts!

Share Share
Forward Forward
Copyright © 2020 Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp