Sixteen eager-for-spring Master Gardeners gathered on March 6 at the 4-H Fairgrounds with Purdue Agriculture Educator Tricia Herr. President Sheri Bethard called the meeting to order. Vice President Nancy Bowes introduced the invited speaker, Levi Brush.
Brush is a Purdue University student, and the first recipient of the Master Gardeners $500 scholarship which is available to Montgomery County residents attending an accredited Indiana college or university and pursing a degree in a field related to horticulture or plant sciences, such as botany, agriculture, landscape design, forestry, or others. In the second semester of his freshman year at Purdue, Brush is majoring in agronomy and currently taking courses in chemistry, agronomy, and botany. As a Dean’s Scholar, Brush is able to work alongside upper-level researchers investigating biofortification methods in many species of plants.
While Brush may be immersed in all things agricultural in his studies, he assured us that he did not come from an agricultural background and indeed described his family as having the opposite of a “green thumb.” He was interested in herpetology at an early age and frogs are still his favorite animal. He joined the FFA club in junior high school and after completing several courses found his niche in crop judging, winning third in the state in crop judging and subsequently in other categories including soils and floriculture.
After trying his hand on a home garden with his new-found skills, Brush now tends a 10’ x 10’ garden filled with tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, broccoli, dill, Hungarian wax peppers, black tomatoes, and very tasty pear tomatoes. Now sold at his small farmstand are these fresh products, pickled beets (from a fourth generation family recipe) and dill pickles from a recipe he developed.
His goals are to continue building on his “side gig,” selling home-made produce, while continuing to focus his studies to pursue work in soil and water sciences, especially in irrigation and erosion mitigation. He sees this need here in the community where he grew up as erosion continues to degrade the natural beauty and habitat at Turkey Run State Park and nearer to us on Sugar Creek.
The business meeting continued with a review of 2023 financials and approval of the February meeting minutes. Certificates of recognition were awarded to our 2022 officers, Pam Mahler, treasurer, Denise Ducharme, vice president, Karen Thada, secretary and Susan Smith, president. Tricia also recognized two Master Garden interns, Sean Grady and Janella Nunan, on the completion of their volunteer commitment of at least 40 hours to achieve Certified Extension Master Gardener status.
Sheri reviewed the 2023 proposed budget with the membership and highlighted some important changes and updates. The budget was approved as presented.
Master Gardeners will be involved in many community events over the next months. The new Seed Library has opened at the Crawfordsville District Public Library and all patrons are invited to visit and take some seeds home to grow. The return of in-person 4th Grade Ag Days will be on April 10-11 from 9 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. We are expecting 220 children each day. Montgomery County Master Gardeners will be at the “Info to Go” booth at the Indiana Flower & Patio Show in at the Indiana State Fair Grounds on March 16 to answer your horticulture questions. Plans are underway for our annual April 29 Spring Plant Sale in conjunction with the Nucor Free Tree Giveaway at the 4-H Fairgrounds. Meetings with Nicholson Elementary School teachers and administration signal the start of our yearly “Growing Better Together” garden and we’re eager to meet the new students learning to love plants. Planning also continues for the Master Gardener Butterfly Garden at the fairgrounds.
Internal activities include a new MG Training Class with four Montgomery County participants. We are hoping for a volunteer from our membership to fill the vacant outreach director position. The scholarship committee, Nancy, Karen, Ellen, and Esther, report that they have received no applications so far this year for the annual scholarship. Promotions have included emails, contacting FFA educators at our county high schools, and submitting articles to both newspapers.
After a door prize drawing was presented, the meeting was adjourned.
If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener, contact Tricia Herr at the 4-H Extension Master Gardener Program, 400 Parke Ave., Crawfordsville, IN 47933 or email us at email@example.com.