Wayne County Extension Master Gardeners cultivate community growth

Wayne County Extension Master Gardeners contribute over 10,000 hours of volunteer service in 2023.

Fresh produce from a community garden in the back of the car.
Fresh produce from the WIC Community Garden at the Wayne County Extension Office – Western Wayne. Photo by Lindsey Kerr, MSU Extension.

In 2023, 262 certified Wayne County Extension Master Gardeners went above and beyond, dedicating a whopping 10,482 hours to volunteer service and spending an additional 2,885 hours in continuing education activities. That's a community value of around $316,032, according to Independent Sector!

These passionate Michigan State University Extension volunteers aren't just tending to pretty flowers—they're getting their hands dirty in gardens that grow produce for local food banks and share veggies with anyone passing by. From planting seeds to weeding to harvesting, these Extension Master Gardeners are on a mission to fight food insecurity and make sure everyone gets their fair share of fresh, healthy produce.

But it's not just about the gardening—their impact goes beyond the soil. At places like Eastern Market, Canton Farmers Market and Northville Farmers Market, they chat with over 2,000 visitors, handing out free seeds and plants, tip sheets and information on classes and events. It's not just about growing stuff; it's about sharing science-based knowledge to keep plants and the environment healthy.

MSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer Celestine Taylor greets a visitor to the information table at the Eastern Market in Detroit. Photo by Lindsey Kerr, MSU Extension.

Even with the challenges of the pandemic, Wayne County hosted its first in-person volunteer onboarding in three years. Fifteen new faces joined the Extension Master Gardener crew and, by December 2024, they'll each have clocked at least 40 hours of community service. Already, some of these trainees are diving into projects like helping at the Detroit Bird Alliance, speaking at Taylor Conservatory events and lending a hand at the Livonia Civic Center Library seed library.

As these Michigan State University Extension volunteers nurture plants, they're also nurturing our communities, one garden at a time. Cheers to the Wayne County Extension Master Gardeners for their green-thumb generosity!

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