One of the missions of the Master Gardener Program is to support U of M Extension by providing trained volunteers to educate the public with research-based information on the best practices in consumer-related horticulture and environmental stewardship.

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  • Master Gardener Helpline

Crow Wing County Master Gardeners respond to phoned questions year around. Recorded horticulture-related questions are answered within 2-3 days of their receipt.

Crow Wing Master Gardener volunteers guide young gardeners in basic vegetable, fruit, and native wildflower growing at the Northland Arboretum’s ‘Gardening 101’ Youth Garden. Teenage and young adult participants assist with planting their individual, multiple shared ‘community harvest’ garden beds, and MN native wildflower beds. Weekly ‘Gardening 101’ sessions include classroom MG instruction and hands on gardening, which of course includes weeding! All youth become quite proud of their gardening abilities and early success!


  • Ready, Set, Grow! Garden EXPO

The Ready, Set, Grow! Garden EXPO is a one-day event open to the public by registration through the Brainerd Community Education. This event provides educational presentations, vendors, exhibitors, light breakfast and lunch all for a very affordable fee. The surveys completed and turned in are always about 99% extremely favorable towards our efforts.

  • Lakes Area Community Garden in Brainerd 

The Lakes Area Community Garden located near Kiwanis Park in Brainerd was established in 2011 but the process of making this project a reality, like so many other projects, started a couple of years earlier. In 2009, a Blandin Leadership Conference was held for 24 Brainerd/Baxter area leaders. At that conference, several leaders identified relevant community issues. One common idea mentioned by several in attendance was establishing a community garden for the Brainerd area. At that time, representatives from several organizations committed to work together. During the process, issues came up that required the expertise and technical assistance of additional organizations, so additional team members were "recruited" such as Crow Wing County Extension and U of M Extension Crow Wing County Master Gardeners.

At the end of the process, a new community garden was established but also new relationships among community organizations were created....Lakes Area Senior Activity Center, Brainerd Noon Rotary, Brainerd Area Sertoma, Crow Wing County Extension, UMN Extension Crow Wing County Master Gardeners, Brainerd FFA Alumni, the City of Brainerd and the Brainerd Parks and Recreation Department. For more information contact Brainerd Parks & Recreation Department at 218-828-2320.

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Beginning in 2011, Master Gardeners partnered with the Good Samaritan Society to facilitate monthly gardening classes at their Woodland Campus in Brainerd. 

Also in 2011, the new Good Samaritan Community Garden based on the Woodland campus was planted! Brian Lehman, Good Samaritan Resource Development Director and daughter Megan, their friends, Barb, Nick & Anna Greatens, Sarah Speer, and Master Gardeners JoAnn Weaver and Tina Dunlap gathered July 5th to plant and mulch the new twelve raised beds. Many vegetables were planted, including several varieties of tomatoes and peppers, cucumbers, squash, onions and lots of herbs, including basil, thyme, oregano and cilantro. The flowers were beautiful and edible too, and included nasturtiums and pansies. There is also one whole bed devoted solely to asparagus, which will grow each year and will provide a harvest of tender delicious stalks each spring!

Good Samaritan residents can choose their raised bed and be matched up with a partner to help take care of it and harvest the veggies. In fact, the harvested vegetables and flowers can all be used in the Good Samaritan Dietary Departments and served at mealtime! Imagine a freshly prepared salad complete with fresh garden-picked produce with bursts of color with tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, onions--beautiful and delicious!

If you are interested in volunteering or want more information about this community garden and Nature's Blessing Good Samaritan Garden Club, call 218-829-1429 at the Woodland Campus.

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  • Gardening Presentations through ISD #182 and ISD #186 Adult Community Education

In 2013, Master Gardeners partnered with ISD #182 and ISD #186 to offer a series of gardening classes through their Adult Community Education program. The classes in 2013 were "Botany for Gardeners", "Beginner Gardening: How to Get Started" and "Growing Great Vegetables."

  • Gardening Presentations through ISD #181 Adult Community Education

Beginning in 2010, Master Gardeners partnered with ISD #181 to offer a series of gardening classes through their Adult Community Education program. Examples of some of the classes offered: "Low-Maintenance Gardening: Saving Time as well as Resources", "Gardening Small: Veggies in Pots and Raised Beds", "Victory Gardens", "Indoor Gardening: Overcoming the Roadblocks to Healthy Houseplants", "The Home Lawn: Basic Guidelines for Maintaining a Healthy Lawn", "Hostas" and "Home Composting.".

  • Gardening Talks through ISD #181 Fun 'N' Friends Summer Program

In May of 2010, kids participating in the Fun 'N' Friends summer program at Washington Educational Services Building in Brainerd, planted a new youth garden thanks to a $7,500 Statewide Health Improvement Program grant. The fenced-in youth garden was planted in an empty lot the school district purchased years ago.

At the beginning of the summer Lisa Stawarski, coordinator for Brainerd Community Education's Youth Connection program, contacted Jackie Froemming, County Extension Educator and MG County Coordinator, to bring Master Gardeners into the classroom once or twice a week throughout the summer to teach the children about gardening. During the months of June, July and August, the following gardening talks were given by Crow Wing County Master Gardeners: "Basic Garden Tools", "Mulch", "Plant Parts", "Basic Garden Maintenance", "Edible Flowers", "Herbs", "Composting and Worm Composting", "Common Veggies and Fruits", "Uncommon Veggies and Fruits" and "Putting the Garden to Bed".

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  • Green Speakers at County Fair

In 2007 Master Gardeners offered short gardening presentations at the Horticulture Building during the county fair in 2007. The topics presented were "Stormwater 101", "Rain Gardens", "Rain Barrels", "The Beekeeper's Garden", "Shoreland Management", "Shade Gardening", "Oh dear, Deer!" and "Vegetable Container Gardening."

  • Kids' Kountry Agricultural Learning Center

Kids' Kountry, a mobile interactive agriculture learning center, is used to educate young children about basic agricultural practices such as how milk reaches grocery stores. The concept for Kids' Kountry was developed by two local women, one of them a Crow Wing County Master Gardener. During the county fair, many volunteers staff the "stations" of Kids' Kountry - several of these volunteers are Master Gardeners.

  • Brainerd Lakes Area Farmers Market - "Ask a Master Gardener" Booth - 2008

Several Master Gardeners set up and staffed a "Ask a Master Gardener" booth while the Farmers Market was open for business. Questions about the rain gardens and other horticulture-related topics were answered. From Mid-May thru Mid-October, the Brainerd Lakes Area Farmers Market is open for business every Tuesday at the Franklin Arts Center parking lot in Brainerd and every Friday at the Gander Mountain parking lot in Baxter. The market is open from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm.

  • The Center's Annual Plant Sale - "Ask a Master Gardener" Booth

As a fundraiser, The Center has an annual plant sale in May. For several years now Master Gardeners are present during the sale ready to provide answers to horticulture-related questions that area residents visiting the plant sale might have.

  • Nisswa Flower Show - "Ask a Master Gardener" Booth

This one-day annual event has about 500 visitors. Area residents find this event to be an excellent educational opportunity to see what can be grown in Zone 3. In addition to the booth, some local Master Gardeners also present seminars for beginning and advanced gardeners.


  • Crow Wing County Fair - "Ask a Master Gardener" Booth

Each year Master Gardeners staff a booth located in the Horticulture Building. Every day, fair visitors can pick up educational materials and get answers to their horticulture-related questions.

  • Gardening Presentations at Public Library in Brainerd

In 2007 a four-week "Spring Gardening" series was offered by a Master Gardener at the Public Library in Brainerd. The topics included in the series were "Perennials", "Annuals", "Ornamental Grasses" and "Planting under Trees." In 2013 the partnership was renewed by offering a series of youth presentations (Examples: "Worm Composting", "Build Your Own Terrarium") as part of the summer reading program. A series of adult presentations was also offered in 2013 (Examples: "Introduction to Rain Gardens", "City Chickens: How to Keep a Backyard Flock" and "Edible Landscaping.") Starting in 2014 the series was expanded to monthly classes. 

  • Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity - presentations to new families

In 2008 the Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity contacted the County Extension Office requesting a gardening presentation by Master Gardener volunteers. Originally the request was for a presentation "explaining to new home recipients on how to successfully grow grass at their prospective locations". The original task of instructing folks with no gardening experience on how to install lawns in the heat of the summer blossomed into a full fledged gardening class. From soil amendments to spacing trees, from planting annuals and perennials to planting conifers and deciduous trees, to the correct use of fertilizers and herbicides, Master Gardeners presented to the new home-owners the very basic do's and don'ts of growing things other than disappointment. According to all parties involved, the class was a huge success.

  • Writing Gardening Columns and Articles

For many years now, there was a gardening column written by a Master Gardener printed in the bi-monthly magazine Lake Country Journal. The column "Through the Garden Gate" covered many different aspects of horticulture. In 2008, Master Gardeners also started contributing a monthly column in the Brainerd Dispatch. This column, normally printed at the beginning of the month, includes answers to many horticulture-related questions as well as timely gardening tips. Master Gardeners also contribute articles to other groups' publications such as lake associations' newsletters.

Ask The Master Gardener monthly columns