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.

  • 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. (218) 824-1068

  • Giving Gardens Project

Like so many individuals and organizations throughout the country, the Crow Wing County Master Gardeners came to the realization in mid-March that they would be unable to hold Gardening 101 classes at the Northland Arboretum in 2020. However, the committee agreed that it was imperative to do something to help the community during these challenging times. And so, the Giving Gardens project was born.

Master Gardeners established vegetable gardens at a portion of the expansive G101 site, with plans to donate all the vegetables, fruit and herbs produced. However, even more than getting their hands dirty, Master Gardeners love to educate. Why not give the knowledge and skills to grow your own tomato, in addition to the tomato itself? Particularly given that during these times of social isolation, economic hardship, and disrupted supply chains, more people were trying their hands at gardening than ever before.

The following fact sheets were developed by Crow Wing County Master Gardeners as a resource for how to grow prolific, well-liked vegetables. Common disease and pest problems are included, as well as a delicious recipe or two to use when all the work is bearing fruit.

Read more about ”Solarization: a tool to control disease and weeds”.

  • Joint ‘Gardening 101’ Youth Garden Project

Crow Wing Master Gardeners guide young gardeners in basic vegetable, fruit, and native wildflower growing at the Northland Arboretum’s ‘Gardening 101’ Youth Garden. Youths participate in sessions June through August, with classroom MG instruction and hands on gardening, which of course includes weeding! The youth are quite proud of their gardening abilities and early success!

The passion of many became a reality in 2019 as “Gardening 101 Goes Inclusive”, with the site two expansion operationally complete this spring. The expansion of the programs amenities includes added additional youth gardening space, a new Veterans and their families gardening program, a Brainerd Garden Club’s plant propagation space, and  propagation space to support Northland Arboretum’s existing gardens.

Gardening 101 has more than doubled in space, educational opportunities for aspiring  youth gardeners, and other demographics taught by U of M Extension Crow Wing County Master Gardeners. Site one and two registrations increased in 2019 to forty seven participants, including youth from the Brainerd Lakes YMCA Summer Day Camp program.

The installation of aesthetic pollinator plantings for Gardening 101 will begin this summer with the relocation and substantial expansion of the Ed Feiler Native Plant Demonstration beds around site one. Ongoing financial support will be sought for the purchase and installation of several memorial fruit trees, a native wildflower prairie in the youth orchard, and installation of the certified Monarch Waystation.

The Gardening 101 expansion garden exists due to the generosity of many, including approval and support of programming by the following: Northland Arboretum Board of Directors, Northland Arboretum Grounds and Trails Committee, Mid-Minnesota Credit Union substantial donation, Crow Wing Energized Healthy Living substantial grant, U of M Extension Master Gardeners in Crow Wing County, Northland Arboretum’s members and staff.

Amenities construction completed by volunteers, including clients from Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, U of M Extension Master Gardeners, Arboretum staff and families, and Northland Arboretum members. Northland Arboretum, Erickson’s Greenhouse of Brainerd, U of M Extension Master Gardeners in Crow Wing County, and Northland Arboretum members provided participation with a wide range of healthy, chemical free vegetables, herbs and fruit plants. Wild Bird Store Little Farm Market donated seeds.

  • 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 and one common idea mentioned by several in attendance was establishing a community garden for the Brainerd area. Additional team members were “recruited”; Crow Wing County Extension and U of M Extension Crow Wing County Master Gardeners and a new community garden was established.

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.

  • Gardening Presentations at Good Samaritan – Woodland Campus 

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 Good Samaritan Community Garden based on the Woodland campus was planted! 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. Any extra harvested vegetables and flowers can be used in the Good Samaritan Dietary Departments and served at mealtime!

If you are interested in volunteering or want more information about this community garden, contact Woodland Campus at 218-829-1429.

  • 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

Beginning 2007 presentations in various series have been offered by a Master Gardener at the Public Library in Brainerd. Starting in 2014 the series was expanded to monthly classes. Topics have included “Perennials”, “Annuals”, “Ornamental Grasses” and “Planting under Trees.”  

  • 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.