Solving problems in our communities
Engaging university-trained volunteers to empower and sustain diverse communities with relevant, unbiased, research-based horticulture and environmental stewardship education. Read about WSU Master Gardeners in the news.
Annually, the WSU Extension Master Gardener Program contributes over 60,000 pounds of produce to food banks, providing approximately 438 individuals with a year’s supply of nutritious fruits and vegetables. Collectively, participants estimate saving $42,000 through the cultivation of their own food.
In 2021, 3.8 percent, or 5.1 million households, experienced extremely low food security, indicating that the food intake of household members was reduced, and normal eating patterns were disrupted due to limited resources. Among U.S. households with children, 6.2 percent, or 2.3 million households, faced food insecurity at times, as reported by ERS-USDA. The demographic most affected by food insecurity comprises female heads of households with children, lacking a spouse, and identified as black, non-Hispanic.
While food-insecure families in Washington state fall below the national average, pockets of food deserts persist across the state. Access to healthy local foods is crucial, as it contributes to the improvement of both individual and community health.
Engaging in local food production diminishes the economic and environmental repercussions associated with the cultivation, processing, packaging, and transportation of food. Individuals with direct access to local food, whether through farmers markets, community gardens, or personal cultivation, tend to consume more fresh fruits and vegetables compared to those without such access. Consequently, these communities exhibit healthier BMI levels and a reduced risk of diabetes.
The establishment of community, home, and school gardens serves to connect people more closely to their food and to one another. This collective effort fosters a heightened awareness of food insecurity, empowering communities to make informed decisions about ensuring consistent access to healthy foods for their families, friends, and neighbors.
The Master Gardener Volunteer Program advocates for the adoption of sustainable methods in cultivating local food, aiming to enhance both individual and community health and well-being.
- A total of 1,587 adults and 2,638 youth were educated on sustainable food gardening practices, as well as the positive impact that access to healthy foods can have on individual and community health.
- Responded to 1,178 inquiries concerning issues in vegetable gardening within the realm of food gardening.
- Conducted 164 classes on food gardening, covering the selection of vegetables based on family preferences and guiding the choice of suitable garden sites to ensure the thriving growth of selected plants.
- Organized 64 demonstrations, 98 workshops, and 98 field days focused on food gardening.
- Volunteers offer guidance and mentorship in 97 community gardens, fostering community unity in the pursuit of food security.
- Volunteers collaborate with young learners in 26 school gardens, where students actively participate in cultivating their own food while gaining insights into fundamental science subjects.
- Volunteers concentrate on conducting food gardening workshops in recognized food desert areas, catering to marginalized communities, immigrant populations, and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Doing our part
Incarcerated youth at the Juvenile Justice Center acquire employable horticulture skills, cultivate seedlings and food for donation, and gain insights into becoming valuable contributors to their community.
Recipients of Habitat for Humanity homes take part in a gardening mentoring program. Residents cultivate culturally significant and hard-to-find food in raised beds under the guidance of Extension Master Gardener volunteers.
Community garden participants learn and grow collectively, inspiring one another to sustain their gardening efforts.
An event centered on family seed-saving and vegetable gardening engaged individuals ranging from 7 to 93 years old in the selection and planting of seeds. A grandmother found joy in watching her twin grandsons embrace gardening.
A series designed for first-time gardeners produces knowledgeable and confident participants, eager to enhance soil fertility, establish and maintain a food garden, and successfully harvest and store produce for consumption.
Master Gardeners collaborate with SNAP-Ed and food banks to ensure that community members utilizing food banks understand how to incorporate fresh produce into healthy meals.