Buncombe Master Gardener Takes Program on the Road

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John Bowen, Extension Master Gardener

John Bowen, an Extension Master Gardener ℠ volunteer since 2019, has been working on a program, along with several other volunteers, called “Lifelong Gardening”. This new program, already becoming a popular request, addresses modifying gardens, and gardening practices, staying physically strong and safe in the garden and learning about ergonomic or adaptive garden tools and how to modify existing tools to help a gardener age and stay in the garden longer.

Coordinators of the Alabama Master Gardener State 2024 conference learned about the program following a conversation with Alison Arnold, Consumer Horticulture Agent and EMG volunteer coordinator and invited John to present both as a keynote speaker and in 2 breakout concurrent sessions. John accepted, loaded his car and traveled to Daphne, Alabama where the 2024 Alabama Master Gardener State Conference “Paradise Found” was held April 22-24, 2024.

John presented the morning keynote on Garden Basics, modifying gardens and gardening practices. To 350 Master Gardeners. Following this he presented two sessions focusing on tools to 90 individuals.

Cover of Alabama MG State Conference ProgramJohn Bowen Bio

John returned from his trip excited and pleased how it all came together so well.

Since he stayed for the conference and was there all day, he received a lot of comments. When someone said “I loved your talk” he would try and ask them “Did you learn anything new, anything that’s going to help you?”  And then people would tell him about their gardens. Many of the comments he got were “You were talking about my garden!” “You helped me see that I don’t have to garden the whole acre haphazardly. I can keep it smaller and focused and get more pleasure from some that.” “You told me it’s OK to let go of some of those plants.” “I don’t have to do it all.” “It would make sense to group my water-hungry plants together.” “I’m going to get help for some of my mulching.” “My garden is a good size for me now. I’m getting  tired out there, and I can’t keep expanding.” And “l wish you could come down and talk to our monthly meeting.”

Given their receptivity, John was reassured that this is a winning program. As he talked with the program coordinator, it was made clear that attendees definitely received value for their time and money. Something every EMG wants to hear.

Now that John is home and rested, he and others on the Lifelong Gardening team will begin preparations for a Train-the-Trainer workshop for other EMGs in eastern North Carolina in early June.