June 2024 Master Gardener Volunteer Newsletter

In this issue…

From the President…

Inspired by the new growing season bursting forth, little league games, spring dance recitals, new birds arriving, outdoor dining, bees buzzing about, weddings, our favorite ice cream shops reopening, proms and graduations… this is the season of enjoyable moments and dreams. 

Eleanor Roosevelt spoke of our springtime dreams when she said “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Certainly, the beauty of the natural world we experience during the Spring is a highlight of our lives and inspiration for the future.

While May and June are always busy months for gardeners, it was also a very busy time for our Association. The preparation for our June 1st Annual Plant sale creates a buzz of activity on many fronts. Our monthly May Board meeting focused on statewide and Cumberland County Master Gardener updates from Pamela Hargest. 

A few Statewide Updates:

  • Given the current budget situation, the statewide home horticulture team will not be getting any additional staff in the near future (unless there are external funds to pay for new positions). This means that the 5.5 horticulture professionals across the state will now manage the MGV program in all 16 counties (700+ MGVs). The staff distribution for coordinating county programs will be shared by Tori Jackson (Program Leader) in the near future.
  • Tori has also informed Pamela and the team that the entire staff will need to shift their approach to volunteer management by taking a more hands off approach and building the capacity of MG volunteer leaders. This makes the work of the CCMGA is even more important! 
  • Another important update is that the MGV training this fall will not be offered so staff can have time to adjust to these changes. However, the Maine Gardener and Maine Horticulture Apprentice Training will still be offered as we rely on revenue generated by these programs to pay for staff positions.

A few Local Updates:

  • Several years ago, the CCMGA operated as a true association overseeing our own bank account and managing our own finances. That account was transferred over to a university account nearly seven years ago just like other MGV associations were doing across the state. At the same time, those associations (boards) were changing over to advisory committees since they were no longer considered their own entity. The decision to transition to an advisory committee was postponed in Cumberland County, even though the University began viewing the CCMGA as an advisory committee and no longer a “board”.
  • With these statewide changes, it’s time to consider the transition to an advisory committee or a leadership committee (whichever makes sense). In reality, this shift won’t change the scope of work for the CCMGA, it’s mostly a name change. However, it does mean we should look at our by-laws and see what the group wants to keep to maintain the function/structure of the organization. The changes also mean we’re going to change the frequency of financial reports, but the budget process will likely remain the same.  
  • Otherwise, pretty much everything else will remain the same. More information will be shared about this transition.

The CCMGA “Board” will extensively discuss all the aforementioned matters again in our June 13th meeting. 

Congratulations to Bonnie Barthmaier, Plant Sale Chairperson, and everyone who invested in making the CCMGA Plant Sale a great success!  Thank you to everyone who rolled up their sleeves and contributed to our largest fund-raising event.

Mark your calendars, the Annual Harvest Celebration has been scheduled for Saturday, October 9th, 2024, from 3:00 -6:00 PM at Tidewater in Falmouth.  

Enjoy the growing season. May it yield us not only a beautiful and bountiful harvest, but as importantly, tranquility.

Gary Hoyt

CCMGA President


Welcome to our newest regular newsletter column, Roots. Each month we’ll feature a different Cumberland County Master Gardener Volunteer – not just their garden projects, but the places and people that nourished and shaped them along the way. 

First up: Sally Wright of West Falmouth. 

Though she did not have much exposure to gardening until college, Sally has always enjoyed spending time outside. She recalls a magical childhood in Weymouth, MA exploring woodland paths and enjoying wild Concord grapes around her home. Sally attended Sterling in Craftsbury Common, Vermont where she studied agriculture and ecology and learned about food systems, sustainability, and best practices. “From there I discovered community gardening and I have been a part of one community garden or another for more than 20 years.” Passionate about accessibility to healthy food, Sally started volunteering with Cultivating Community where she helped build three community gardens in Portland from the ground up. 

Upon completing her 2015 Master Gardener class, Laura Mailander of Cultivating Community encouraged Sally to write a grant for a new garden at Oxford Street. “Until the shelter closed in 2023 and the land was sold, I was part of a dedicated team that grew food and flowers for marginalized communities. The shelter has since moved to Riverside Street in Portland and Janet Kane, Mary Dumond, and I are filling raised beds with flowers and ready to eat crops. We’re also thrilled to be acquiring some new MG recruits this season!” 

As with any growth story, there have been challenges along the way. “When trying to encourage new Americans to join in with us at Oxford garden, they were often hesitant. We assumed it was a language barrier issue but we soon figured out that they simply didn’t know what to do with our New England-focused crops. So we started growing things they were familiar with – like onions, garlic, and sweet potatoes, a staple of many cultures. Several women eventually joined us and to our surprise would deftly pick the leaves off the plant and leave enough for the root to continue to thrive to full size.”

Sally loves sharing her gardening knowledge with others, and offers advice for those just starting out… advice that’s applicable to life outside of the garden as well:

  1. Ask a friend or neighbor for a tour of their garden. Your community is right there, under your nose. Wisdom is passed plant to plant and person to person. 
  2. Before you choose plants and spend money on tools, build your soil with natural materials. A solid base is always a great place to begin. 

When not focused on growing native plants, you’ll find Sally writing, reading, and traveling. 

If you are interested in this volunteer opportunity, get in touch with Sally Wright at sallylucywright@gmail.com. Know an MGV that you’d like to see featured? Nominate them by sending their name and email address to Heather (heatherwberger@gmail.com).

Master Gardener volunteer Sally Wright with Mary Dumond
Image Caption: Sally Wright and Mary Dumond May 2024 Riverside Shelter MG Project

Volunteer Opportunities

The Jordan Small Middle School Garden Club, located in Raymond, is looking for two Master Garden Volunteers to assist with the after-school garden club program. The club meets on Wednesdays from 2:30 to 3:30 PM for 6 weeks in the spring and in the fall. The Garden Club currently has 13 fifth graders participating in it.

Volunteers would work with 3 to 4 youths at a time in helping guide activities. In the spring the club spends time prepping gardens, working in the greenhouse, and starting seedlings for summer crops. The garden club votes on what seedlings to start each spring. Last year, they chose to grow watermelons and it was a bumper crop!

During the fall, the club finishes harvesting and preparing the beds and greenhouse for winter. The garden club has a partnership with Windham-Raymond School district to supply the cafeteria with fresh vegetables for the fall season and is paid for the produce grown. This is a great opportunity to get kids interested in gardening and share your love for gardening.

If you are interested in volunteering, please reach out to Sheila Frappier at  maglady57@hotmail.com or by phone #: (207)776-4727

Tomato plants in gardenWatermelons in box

Cumberland County Master Gardener Speaker Series

June 6: Small Fruits with Joel Leak/MGV’s (Zoom) 5:30 – 7:00 PM 

What exactly is a small fruit? Technically, a low growing plant (shrub, bush, bramble, herb) that produces berries. These little flavor morsels are often small, round, and packed with antioxidants. Examples include strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

Join Master Gardener Joel Leak and explore the many different small fruits you can grow in any sized yard.  Fruits are delicious and nutritious, and many are easy to grow. Joel will cover over 20 different kinds of fruit – both native and cultivated; some you are already familiar with and some you may not have thought of growing before. You will understand the growth habits of different kinds of small fruits, identify what cultivars you want to use, know the basic requirements of small fruits and establish a basic foundation for diagnosing problems

Joel Leak has been a Master Gardener since 2001 and has been gardening for over 50 years.  He teaches Adult Education classes in vegetable gardening, fruit trees, herbs and growing berries. He maintains a vegetable garden, orchard, and grows berries at his home in Falmouth.  

The program fee is offered on a sliding scale, $0-$10 and is free to enrolled Master Gardener Volunteers. This session will be recorded and shared with those who register for this webinar.                              

Registration link:  https://umaine-extension.formtitan.com/ftproject/events?eventid=a1cUy000001D4QD  

Master Gardener Plant Sale 2024

Thank you all for a successful plant sale! We met our goals: raised a lot of money, indulged ourselves with good fun, and made our success look easy!!! 

Success is measured in several ways:

The professional appearance we presented 

The streamlined systems we perfected

The community outreach we provided is obvious and quantifiable.

But more importantly, we should value the friends new and old that make plant sale day the best day of the year. Connecting with old friends after a winter of hibernation, meeting new Master Gardeners that share your passion, and talking with strangers who look to us as the “Experts” is the reason we host the plant sale!

Thank you for helping with this extremely successful event fundraiser. I will share our financial success when the numbers have been tallied.

Bonnie Barthmaier

Harvest Celebration: Save the Date

Master Gardener Harvest Celebration Saturday, October 5th 3:00 – 6:00 pm Tidewater Farm, Falmouth ME.

A traditional event now down on the farm. A perfect time to catch up with old friends. Meet new Master Gardeners. More Details and Potluck sign up to follow. Come for the Suppah – Stay for the Fun!

Upcoming Events

  • Tue.,  June 4:    Yardscaping  |  6:00 – 8:00 PM (Freeport, ME)  Free

New PIN Numbers for MGV Portal

Beginning June 1st, you will no longer need to receive an email with a temporary pin number. Instead, each Master Gardener Volunteer will be assigned a unique number to log into the MGV Portal and access the Master Gardener Volunteer Dashboard. 

Please watch your email for your new PIN number! Beginning June 1st, you will log in by entering your email address and your assigned PIN number. 

If you have any questions or need assistance, please email extension.mastergardeners@maine.edu.

Reporting MGV Hours and Produce Donations

Please be sure to report your hours through the new Master Gardener Volunteer Portal.
If you have any questions, please email Extension.mastergardeners@maine.edu so we can help you.


Do you need more CLYNK bags? CLYNK bags can be picked up at the office Monday thru Friday, 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Our account grows steadily and the money supports Cumberland County Master Gardener projects. Collect your returnables in one of our designated CLYNK bags, drop off at your local Hannaford and help us grow our Seed Money.

The Cumberland County Master Gardener Volunteer Newsletter is edited by Clarissa Brown and Kerri Frazier. listings are Heather Wiggins-Berger writes the monthly Roots column, and Kerri Frazier writes the volunteer opportunities and compiles the Upcoming Events section If you would like to submit an article or help with any aspect of the Newsletter contact AJ Cornell, the newsletter coordinator.