Wednesday, October 21, 2015

2015 Master Gardener Conference

A book signing...

At my signing table I not only signed books that people purchased from the IFAS bookstore, I also passed out native plant society brochures with the message that we think Florida should look like Florida and not Hawaii.
It was fun to talk to so many Master Gardeners: many I knew, but others are now new friends.

Education is the name of the game

There were posters and information lining the corridors.
Florida Friendly sign part I.
Florida Friendly II
A Florida-Friendly plant guide is a available for a moderate price. I just wish that more natives had been included in the FF recommended plant list. Not sure what's in the app.
A bug info poster.

The vendors

Vendors included fertilizer and pesticide companies and also  Bonnie Plants. I talked to the 2 reps at length about how frustrated I am with their offerings.
I have been frustrated with Bonnie Plants for a long time now because they sell plants that absolutely don't work in Florida such as long-day onions, which I've ranted about before. I approached the two women working the table with the hope that I could speak to someone about their plant selection. I wrote down my complaint on the back of one of my bookmarks. I tried not get angry because this situation is not their fault, but as an educator, I wanted to show how I could help their company. This was a down time for the vendors because the Master Gardeners were attending the keynote, so I went back to my table and brought a copy of my vegetable book to show them I wasn't a hack and indicated that it was a university press book. Then I praised them for Bonnie's third grade cabbage program and how important their program is for kids. So we'll see if this leads anywhere...

I did not approach the fertilizer and pesticide vendors. I know that conferences depend upon vendors and sponsors, but these products are causing harm to Florida's waterways and other ecosystems. How can you have a butterfly garden when you poison your landscape?

I signed books only for a couple of hours after the keynote speaker.
I was disappointed to see that Laurie Trenholm was speaking about fertilizers. That she recommends turf down to the edges of waterways and that lawns need fertilizing 3 to 5 times a year is so wrong for the health of Florida's waterways.
In my presentations, I talk about our "Freedom Lawn" (Free from fertilizer, free from pesticides, and free from over-watering). One time I mentioned that IFAS (Florida's extension service) is still recommending lawn fertilizer and received this rant on my Facebook page.

You threw us under the bus using your platform to say that Master Gardeners go out and TELL PEOPLE TO FERTILIZE their lawns. Um No,,, we have been trying to teach our community lagoon friendly landscaping, volunteering our time with lectures and training. I personally am out teaching composting, rain barrels and vermi-composting. The extension office has to train commercial landscapers THE CORRECT way and times in fertilizer and pesticide use for their licensing. If someone comes with questions on fertilization we do answer them because some HOAs demand St Auggy grass and as you know it is bad news for the lagoon. And then there are the golf courses, soccer fields, nursing homes and schools that need this help. I belong to the Native Plant Society as well as being Pres. of our IR Master Gardener program for several years. I found it extremely hurtful and discriminatory that you clump all MGs into category when they PAY for their training and volunteer their hours to be HELPFUL to the community. I don't doubt that there are a few old school MGs that may still say MIRACLE Grow is the way to go BUT,,,,, most of us are trying to push the natural methods. I think you owe the nature loving Master Gardeners an apology .

I pointed out that while I appreciate that she is doing the right thing, IFAS as an organization, is still featuring Laurie Trenholm on a regular basis, which was my point. This is yet another instance... I really do appreciate that Master Gardeners do pay for their training and they volunteer untold hours, it's amazing how many good positive projects they are able to complete..I'm just trying to convince people that lawns can do quite well without any fertilizer and our waterways would be in much better health..

Only a few events are left in my #FloweredShirtTour. I hope to see you at one of them.

Green gardening matters, 
Ginny Stibolt

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