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Changing Lives, Improving Community

By Dawn Fradkin, Horticulture Programs Coordinator and Assistant Horticulturist

Have you ever wondered what a Colorado Master Gardener volunteer does? Every year, in Arapahoe County, CMGs provide research-based gardening and horticulture advice, educational programming and outreach to the residents of our county. Here’s a look at what we did in 2023.

Clockwise from top left: Colorado Center for the Blind (CCB), Pea Patch, Garden and Home Show, Clayton Elementary, CCB. Photos: Arapahoe County Master Gardeners.

MG Help Desk – CMGs volunteer at our Help Desk six days a week to answer yard and garden questions from county residents. We had a busy year! We have answered over 800 inquiries from the public so far in 2023. If you ever have a burning question about a problem in your own yard or even with a houseplant, you can call or email a Master Gardener for advice all year long at 303-730-1920 or   

Community Outreach – Our CMGs also volunteer at various community events throughout the year. We staff information booths at garden centers and events like the Arapahoe County Fair, Garden in a Box pick-ups, the Colorado Garden and Home show, and other city and county sponsored events. In 2023, we participated in over 42 events and connected with 1,329 adults and 168 youths to answer questions about yard and plant problems and other gardening topics. For more information about CMG events and other CSU Extension programs, click here.

Community Education – CMGs who participated in our Speaker’s Bureau taught 20 classes and workshops to garden clubs, the DAR, library patrons, HOAs and the Girl Scouts. Our Youth Gardening Committee taught classes at several elementary schools about pollinators, basic botany, composting and other gardening topics. At Jewell Elementary School in Aurora, we helped guide 200 first graders through the process of creating their own pollinator garden. The school plans to expand the curriculum each year with this new teaching garden.

Demonstration Gardens – We maintain eight demonstration gardens throughout Arapahoe County. The purpose of these gardens is to teach adults and children how to grow food and teach about the importance of pollinators. CMGs provided 18 classes to community members at these gardens in 2023. We also donated almost 2.5 tons of produce from these gardens to various food banks in Arapahoe County to help combat food insecurity through the Grow and Give program. You can learn more about our unique demo gardens here and how you can donate your extra garden veggies to the CSU Extension Grow and Give program here.

Horticulture Diagnostic Help – We have a knowledgeable team of CMG diagnosticians who can help identify insects and plants, as well as diagnose pest and disease problems on plants and trees. In 2023, this new team answered nearly 150 diagnostic inquiries through “Ask Extension” and from sample drop-offs at the diagnostic clinic in the Extension office. If you would like to know what type of bug is on a landscape plant or in your home, or what pest or disease is affecting your plants, then you can bring in a sample for an $8 fee. For hours, location and other drop-off details, click here.  

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