Master Gardener Volunteers Newsletter – April 2023

Table of Contents


Upcoming Dates to Remember!

April 1st – Hancock County Food Drive
April 8th – Grow Your Best Berries – workshop
April 11th – MGV only – Field Trip – Chuck Weber’s
April 11th – Beyond the Apple: Growing Unique Fruit in Maine – Webinar
April 17th – Patriots Day – Office Closed
April 29th – Shiitake Mushroom workshop for MGV’s
May 13th – Celebration of Life – Reeser Manley


MARJORIE PERONTOM Peronto pruning class

Those of us who work in and love gardens know and have benefited from Marjorie Peronto’s vast knowledge, experience, and patience with fledgling gardeners. But you may not know that prior to coming to Maine she served in the Peace Corps, working with subsistence farmers and women’s weaving cooperatives in Togo, West Africa. She then worked for Save the Children Federation developing community gardens in low income urban neighborhoods.  After her stint with Save The Children, she went on to pursue aMarjorie and Reesers home garden Masters Degree at the University of Wisconsin in Natural Resource Management and Environmental Education.

Upon completion of her degree she applied for a job with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. She started in 1991, developing the 4-H youth development program and sustainable agriculture/horticulture programs for Hancock County.  These were previously two separate positions rolled into one. The job eventually evolved into a sustainable agriculture and horticulture position for both Hancock and Washington Counties. During Marjorie’s 30+ year career she conducted research on lowbush blueberries, commercial productionReeser and Marjorie teaching of native shrubs, invasive species management, volunteer development, and improving food self sufficiency skills of food pantry clients . But she is perhaps best known for her work with the Master Gardener Volunteers Program. Over the years she trained hundreds of MGVs who have contributed thousands of hours working in community gardens throughout the region.

Majorie’s story is not just about her highly successful career, but also a life and professional partnership with Reeser Manley. The two met when he was an Associate Professor of Horticulture at the University of Maine.  Marjorie wasReeser M. Marjorie P taking professional development courses and enrolled in his woody plants class.   She fondly recalls Dr. Manley’s strict attendance policy with a quiz at the beginning of class. Marjorie, commuting to campus from Ellsworth and caught in traffic, arrived just in time to have Dr. Manley close the classroom door in her face. She waited outside until after the quiz and quietly took her seat. After class Marjorie approached the professor with an apology and explanation for her tardiness. And the two started what became a 21 year life and professional partnership. The two collaborated on highly regarded and popular books on gardening. The Life in your Garden, Gardening for Biodiversity (2016) and The New England Gardener’s Year (2013). The latter book is out of print at this time, but a second, expanded edition is in the works!

Last fall Reeser died suddenly while doing what he loved most, working in the garden with Marjorie. A gathering to celebrate Reeser’s life is planned for Saturday May 13th, 9:00 a.m.,  downstairs at St. Dunstan Church, 134 State Street, Ellsworth.  All are welcomed and for those who desire, to share a memory of Reeser.

Marjorie and Master Gardener Volunteers Marjorie has retired from her position with University of Maine CooperativeExtension but will stay connected to her MGVs. This summer she will once again oversee the MGV work at the Extension Office gardens. The work will be every other Friday commencing April 28th. There will be 2 shifts, morning (8:30 – 11:30) and afternoon (12:30 – 3:30). When asked why she is returning, Marjorie, said “for the sheer pleasure of working with the Master Gardener Volunteers!”

As for Marjorie’s next chapter, she would enjoy a consulting service for gardeners on pruning, building healthy soil, landscaping with native plants, managing invasive species, growing small fruits, growing vegetables, and gardening for biodiversity. Anyone interested in consulting with Marjorie may reach her by email at

GROW YOUR BEST BERRIESRaspberries and Blackberries

A couple spaces remain!  Your 2023 continuing education workshop schedule begins with one of MGV’s favorite teachers…the famous Dr. David Handley!  On Saturday, April 8 at 10:00 AM, he will present a session for MGV’s and the public at Cooperative Extension office in Ellsworth.  There is no charge for the workshop, but reservations are required and can be made by emailing:  Space is limited.  A waiting list will be kept in case of cancellations.

Raspberries and blackberries are among the favorite fruit of Maine gardeners, but keeping the plants vigorous and productive can be a real challenge in our climate.  This workshop will take a detailed look at growing raspberries and blackberries, including variety selection, planting, pruning, trellising and pest management, to help you have a successful harvest of these fruits.  Weather permitting, the session will include demonstration in the garden after David’s presentation of information in the classroom.

David T. Handley is a Vegetable and Small Fruit Specialist and a Cooperating Professor of Horticulture for the University of Maine.  He has been based at the Highmoor Farm Agricultural Experiment Station since 1983, where he carries out applied research regarding berry and vegetable variety evaluation, production techniques and pest management strategies.  He coordinates Maine’s Invasive Pest Management programs for strawberries and sweet corn.

Dominika Delmestro Shiitaki Mushrooms


How to Grow Shiitake Mushrooms on Logs Outdoors
Dominika and John DelMastro
Middle Earth Mushrooms

Saturday morning, April 29th
10 AM – noon
at UMaine Cooperative Extension Hancock County



Shiitake mushrooms are easy-to-grow, choice, edible mushrooms, and they are chock full of   vitamins, minerals, and protein.  Dominika and John DelMastro have grown them for the last ten years at their farm in Seal Cove—Middle Earth Mushrooms.  They have very generously agreed to show you how to do it.  In the last few years, there has been an explosion of interest in mushroom growing and mushroom hunting, but if you forage for wild mushrooms you must be expert at identifying them.  Fortunately for us, when you grow your own mushrooms you already know what they are! 

John and Dominika will explain the basics of what happens when a fungus grows, and provide you with what you need to know to cultivate them yourself.  After that, each attendee will be given one log to inoculate and take home.

Come and explore this endlessly fascinating Kingdom, while adding tasty food to your table. Tools, logs, mushroom spawn and expertise will all be provided, but registration is a must.  There is no charge for the workshop, but you must reserve a spot by emailing:  sue.baez@maine.eduSpace is limited.  Growing Logs will be given to the first 12 that register.  A waiting list will be kept in case of cancellations.

Dominika is a Hancock County Master Gardener Volunteer; John works for Acadia National Park and is an artist and photographer.  You can find their delicious fungi at farmer’s markets, Beech Hill Farm, and MDI’s Farmdrop.


April 11 field trip to Chuck Weber’s greenhouse.  (Details in last month’s newsletter.)  Add your name to the waiting list in case of last minute cancellations by checking with Mary at

April 29 “How to Grow Shiitake Mushrooms on Logs Outdoors” workshop presented by Dominika and John DelMastro.  (See details above)

Please watch the newsletter for details a month in advance so you have time to register for the following:

Field Trips for Master Gardener Volunteers only

*field trip with guided tour of Wild Gardens of Acadia

*field trip with presentation by lavender garden owners
*workshop on dry gardening

*field trip and presentation by gardeners at Incredible Edible Milbridge
*field trip with guided tour of Blue Hill Native Gardens

*field trip with guided tour of Sweet Haven Farm

Yet to be scheduled for 2023 are:
*workshop on rhododendrons at Asticou Garden
*workshop on vermiculture
*webinar on starting seeds without peat


MGV Project Leaders are reminded to please take photos of your workdays, volunteers, and harvest throughout the season.   If you have photos to share, please send them along to



Beyond the Apple: Growing Unique Fruit in Maine Register Here
Instructor – Jesse Stevens
Tuesday, April 11th
6 PM to 7:15 PM

Other Workshops Happening at Hancock County (in person)

Cooking for CrowdsRegister Here
Tuesday, April 25th
12:30 – 3:30 PM
Hancock County Extension Office 

HANCOCK COUNTY FOOD DRIVE – sign upHancock county food drive text

This April marks the 12th Annual Hancock County Food Drive, a month-long fundraiser and food collection event that supports 19 food security organizations across the county. With the help of countless community members, these organizations are working together to raise $50,000, which will be shared evenly across the participating food pantries, meal programs, and school program

To meet this goal, a calendar of events is being planned for the month of April and will include a county-wide Kick-Off Event, a month-long Read-A-Thon, a Miles for Meals challenge, pancake breakfast, food-themed open mic night, and outdoor film screening. Learn more about our events here.

Fill out this form if you would like to volunteer, organize your own Food Drive event, host a food collection, or make a donation.

Questions? Contact Rachel Emus at or visit

This month’s newsletter sent by Sue includes articles from our new “Communicate with MGV’s” task force.  We’d like the next edition to feature your suggestions and articles about gardeners and gardens.  MGV’s, please contact us at with your ideas as we work on ways for us to stay in touch with all our gardening friends while following virus-safe guidelines.

Thank you from
Betsy Adams, Jan M. Jane, Wendy, Linda, Mary D., Mary H., and Rita