Gardeners' Dirt: Giving thanks with solutions for holiday 'to's and from's'
By Charla Borchers Leon - Victoria County Master Gardener
Nov. 21, 2013 at 5:21 a.m.
This time of year brings thankful sentiments amid a lot of upcoming holiday "to's and from's." Timing between Thanksgiving and Christmas will be even more hurried this year with the calendar making the two occasions a week closer than most years.
Horticulture efforts began in late 1900s
Some 15 years ago, this time of year also brought about uniquely different but similar organized efforts in the Victoria horticultural community. The Victoria County Master Gardener Association completed its first fall training class and was soon thereafter officially recognized as a nonprofit educational entity with the state of Texas.
Also in the late 1990s, the first greenhouse was acquired at the campus of Devereux-Victoria, and the horticultural program was initiated for clients to experience the world of horticulture. Since then, both programs have flourished - but not without support of the community, and the two often work together.
Master gardener program has grown
The Master Gardener program has grown from an initial class of about a dozen trainees to an annual consistent roster of 150 certified Master Gardeners and interns. It has numerous educational outreach programs that touch surrounding communities in various ways.
Much has been accomplished with statewide recognition but not without the generous support of individuals and entities that coexist in the horticultural arena and the communities it serves.
Devereux program has blossomed
There are now seven greenhouses at Devereux's growing center on U.S. Highway 59 South toward Goliad and two Devereux retail establishments - the Goliad one opened in 2001 and Victoria's in 2004. Each has plants, bakery and food items along with a selection of gifts.
Adult clients in the vocational program plant seeds, pot plants and help maintain the growing center on campus and also take pride in helping bake an assortment of goodies, including cookies and the now-famous buttermilk brownies. They also work with supervision at the two Devereux Gardens locations.
These outlets, too, would not be profitable without the generous support of the gardening enthusiasts who frequent them and the communities they serve.
Shared efforts benefit both
The two organizations share in recognizing the aesthetic appeal for gardening, sponsoring gardens for both children and adults, plants for plant sales and in the value of educational horticulture programs.
As past president of both the Master Gardeners and the South Texas Advisory Council at Devereux, I can attest to the benefit of sharing in horticultural programs like these. Both groups share with the communities they serve and are thankful this time of year for one another and those who support them.
Children's garden led to adult garden project
Four years ago, the Victoria Master Gardeners, through its Junior Master Gardener program, worked with Devereux in creating a children's garden on campus. According to staff, as youth clients come and then leave Devereux, the one thing that remains constant is the children's garden. Some of the adult clients started working in that garden, so an adult garden was then developed two years later through a generous grant.
The primary produce in the adult garden is watermelons and pumpkins. The original watermelon seeds came from an area donor with specific instructions that this was a "late season" product. Those seeds were frozen and planted this July 26. The entire campus, children and adults alike, tasted the "fruits of labor" from the adult garden.
Most recently, the 15 adults in the horticulture program harvested a second crop of several varieties of pumpkins. They were sold through the Devereux Growing Center, and everyone that participated in the program received one to use and decorate for the holidays.
Solutions for your 'to's and from's'
Assisted by the vocational programs, Devereux is able to provide solutions for the "to's and from's" on your gift-giving holiday list. The growing center on campus, known also for its Christmas poinsettias, sells them there and through both Devereux Gardens locations.
The baked goods made at Devereux can be a scrumptious addition to a gift basket that could include plants or other gifts found in-house at the Victoria store. And while shopping at the Goliad location, step up to the new smoothie bar and lunch area for a bit of shopping and personal enjoyment.
If you plan ahead, that lost week between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year will not be so challenging. You will be thankful that many of your "to's and from's" can be accommodated with gifts from the programs at Devereux.
The Master Gardeners express thanks to Devereux for support of its various educational projects. Devereux is likewise appreciative of the sharing of horticultural knowledge from the Master Gardeners.
Both give thanks for the support of surrounding communities in their endeavors.
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at VictoriaAdvocate.com.