Hancock and Washington Counties Master Gardener Volunteers News – March 2022

Table of Contents


Upcoming Dates to Remember

March 9, 16 & 23:  Climate Change for Gardeners (registration closed)

March 28: Spring Wellness session -Improving Balance to Decrease the Chance of Falls

April 4:  Spring Wellness session – Chair Yoga

April 11:  Spring Wellness session – Chi-Gong for Master Gardeners: Building Strength, Flexibility and Balance

April 12:  Butterfly Garden Basics with Martina

April 18:  Spring Wellness session – Self-Directed Biofeedback fo Stress Relief

April 18:  Patriot’s Day – office closed

May 21:  MGV Plant Sale & Open House

June 27:  FLASH in the Pans Steel Drum Band Fundraiser

COVID Protocols

We will keep you updated on any future Covid Safety protocol changes.  Watch your emails.  Thank you all for being so patient and cooperative!

What Have You Gotten Yourself Into?  –  MGV Project Descriptions for 2022

We asked you to re-enroll and sign up for a volunteer project earlier than usual this year, and the new (statewide) enrollment deadline caught me off guard.  I did not have the complete list of projects ready yet, nor did I have project descriptions.  Here is a list of this year’s projects – just click on each one to see a description.  After seeing this, if you wish to modify your project choice(s) for 2022, please send Sue a quick email (sue.baez@maine.edu).  Thank you!

Blue Hill Community Garden
Brooklin Community Garden
Bucksport Seed Lending Library (NEW)
Camp Discovery Organic Garden (CDOG) Eastbrook
Eat Well Volunteer Outreach in Food Pantries
Extension Office Landscape, Hoop House and HCTC Veggie Garden
Friends in Action Harvest for Hunger Garden, Ellsworth
Gleaning on Farms and at Farmers Markets
Hancock Community Garden Harvest for Hunger
Island Community Garden, Deer Isle (NEW)
Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry Garden, Ellsworth
Mentor a Beginning Gardener Virtually
Native Gardens of Blue Hill (NGBH)
Rhoades Park Butterfly Garden, Southwest Harbor
Saint Dunstan’s Creation Garden, Ellsworth
Spring 2022 Plant Sale and Outdoor Open House
Sweet Haven Harvest for Hunger, Seal Cove
Washington Academy Harvest for Hunger Garden, East Machias

Hancock/Washington Counties MGV Awards for 2020 and 2021

MGVs continue to amaze me.  In 2020, 48 Hancock and Washington County MGVs found ways to volunteer from home, growing extra food in your gardens for food pantries, doing independent research projects, mentoring beginning gardeners (virtually), and writing for our statewide MGV newsletter.  In 2021, our MGV projects were cautiously reopened, with specific safety protocols in place.  You used your ingenuity and creativity to safely get out into your communities.  Despite the continued challenges in 2021, 102 of our MGVs volunteered over 4,500 hours on projects that tackle food insecurity and promote sustainable gardening in Hancock and Washington Counties.  Thank you for your dedication. Thank you for sharing your passion for gardening, your knowledge, and your bounty!

Since the pandemic prevented us from having an in-person volunteer recognition event for the last two years, we recently mailed each of you awards that you earned in ’20 and ‘21.  As a MG Volunteer in H and W counties, you receive a new garden-themed lapel pin for each year that you stay active (20 hours of volunteering) after earning your certificate.  We also keep track of the cumulative volunteer hours you report, and you earn awards when you achieve specific milestones

MGV Hourglass Awards















Annual List of Lapel Pins




























Congratulations and Thank You for continuing to volunteer!
Looking forward to another awesome season!



2022 Spring Plant Sale and Outdoor Open House Scheduled: Saturday May 21

Lisa, a Master Gardener Volunteer, dressed up as a bumble bee for the plant sale
Our Bumblebee – MG Plant Sale 2019

It’s been three years since we’ve been able to hold our traditional MGV plant sale and open house.  This is our main fundraiser to support projects and scholarships for students, AND it is our chance to showcase our MGV program to the public.  Plans are in the making for the event this year, on Saturday morning, May 21. Will you join the group and pitch in?  There are so many different ways you might contribute.  Please consider:

  • Do you have (or know of someone who has) divisions from your perennial garden that you can contribute?
  • Would you enjoy digging, dividing and potting perennials at the Extension Office?
  • Would you like to grow some annual veggies or flowers to contribute to the sale?
  • Would you like to help us set up for the sale and outdoor workshops? (nothing will be done inside the building this year)
  • Would you like to help with customer service on the day of the sale? (All MGVs will be asked to wear masks this year as an extra precaution).
  • Would you enjoy giving a public demonstration/talk on the day of the sale?
  • How about helping with a kids’ activity table?

If you haven’t signed up to help with the Plant Sale/Outdoor Open House yet, please think about how you might help, and send an email to Marjorie at marjorie.peronto@maine.edu.


Butterfly Garden BasicsButterfly with wings open resting on a flower

MGV, Martina Dittmar

Have you wanted to start or improve a butterfly garden?  In the workshop you will learn about butterfly biology, such as their life cycle, behaviors, and adaptations.  The most common butterflies of Maine will be introduced along with the plants they nectar and lay their eggs on.  You will learn some ideas for plants and flowers to place in your yard or garden to attract butterflies.  There will also be photographs of Charlotte Rhodes Butterfly Park in Southwest Harbor in order to obtain some inspiration for planning a garden.

MGV, Martina Dittmar has volunteered to present this session which will be hosted by Marjorie Peronto from noon-1:00 PM on Tuesday, April 12.   Remember to register in advance for this continuing education workshop offered for Hancock and Washington County MGV’s.  Please contact Sue Baez at sue.baez@maine.edu to request the Zoom link for the presentation.

MGV Profile #1
Martina Dittmar MGVMartina Dittmar, MGV Class of 2010

Martina Dittmar lives in Surry with her husband, 8 year old son, pets, and garden. She has been a Master Gardener Volunteer since 2010. Plants and nature have played a huge part of her life since she was a child. When she grew up in New Hampshire she remembers collecting wildflowers, acorns, caterpillars, and toads. She enjoyed laying in the tall grass watching dragonflies and going for long walks in the woods on paths of soft pine needles.

Hiking was Martina’s primary connection to nature. This passion started in childhood and continued in her teens and 20’s where she hiked on trails in California in high school and backpacked across Europe through trails in Greece, Ireland, and Spain. The connection to plants and nature led to her focus on studying biology in college. Plants remained her main companions as she led a lonely life moving a lot. She lived in 22 places from ages 6-32! Cooking is another connection to the earth and plants that Martina has enjoyed from a young age. She loves the smells, textures, colors, service, and creativity of preparing food.

Finally, she settled in Surry, Maine where she has lived for the past 15 years! Gardening really started to take root in her life. At that time she also started meditation, yoga, and got married. The main takeaway she received from yoga and meditation retreats was a desire to simply sit in nature. Over the years she has been doing that more often. Through sitting in nature she has been inspired to create poetry and paintings and develop her intuition.

Her involvement in the Master Gardener Volunteers has led to various projects and employment. She helped organize the plant sale for the Hancock County Extension office for a few years. She was involved with the advisory committee and the Kids Can Grow program. Martina also gained employment as a professional gardener in various estates on Mount Desert Island. The past 4 summers she has worked at Charlotte Rhoades Butterfly Garden as an educator, gardener, and volunteer leader. She gave weekly tours to the public and helped teach local school field trips and the Junior Naturalist program there.

After a life as a nomad, the Master Gardeners really became an important community connection for Martina. She remembers the welcoming feeling of being a part of a like-minded group of people. Many master gardeners became close friends with her. They even threw her a surprise baby shower, which Martina cherished the support incredibly as she was preparing to be a mother.

A few years ago Martina has been branching off on her desire to start her own business. She studied the holistic healing practices of Ayurveda, yoga, and energy healing. She healed herself with the power of plants and connection to spiritual practices. She became a vegetarian, used herbs to balance health issues, and connected herself to subtle aspects of nature. All of these practices returned her to the natural rhythms of nature.

The main challenge Martina has with gardening is also the primary challenge in her life as a whole. It is being overwhelmed and not taking time to slow down and enjoy the garden. She gets big ideas and focuses her energy on completing tasks. The pressure created by “doing” and accomplishing creates a fast moving energy that isn’t peaceful. She gets consumed by the tasks and wants to rush in order to reach an end goal.

From the awareness of that challenge, Martina has learned another tremendous benefit of her garden: pausing and learning to enjoy the beauty of nature in the garden. Over the years Martina had stopped more in the garden to sit under the grape vines, write poetry about the flowers, observe ground beetles, or watch the sunset. These moments of stillness have become the main source of joy in her life! The garden has taught her to move slowly in life and appreciate each task while performing them with care and attention to detail.

The past year has brought even more insights and visions for the future as Martina has been drawn to sit in the forest and find tremendous inner peace and wisdom. The plants and trees offer so much stillness, strength, and silence to her life. Currently, she is focusing her business on bringing people into nature to experience their true selves, find inner peace, and happiness. She is working on studying for the Maine Guide Exam and plans to take people into the forest for nature walks and retreats. Other ideas she has is leading nature walks for families and building a forest meditation garden with teens. Martina hopes to have a place to teach classes on meditation, cooking, Ayurveda, and nature awareness to people of all ages.

MGV Profile #2

BETSY ADAMS, MGV class of 2021

Before we had a home in Maine, my gardening experience was very limited and sporadic. I planted an herb garden for my mother in CT when I was in high school. Years later, I had some experience helping friends in their gardens and wished I had one of my own. All I had were a few low-maintenance houseplants that thrived on benign neglect, perched on an east-facing apartment windowsill.

Our property in Surry was a pretty blank canvas with a great view when I bought it in late 2004. It’s about an acre of land bordered by Spruce, Fir, Birches, and Maples. There was a large rhododendron planted on the west side of the house, facing Morgan Bay and the prevailing winds and the strong afternoon sun. I knew enough to be surprised that it appeared to be thriving.

I was itching to plant things, but clueless about what, where, when, and pretty much how. The first few years I was only here two to six weeks at a time. I planted some herbs, crocuses, and daffodils. I went to on a lot of garden tours and bought a lot of books. We renovated in the Fall of 2007 and I was ready to start in earnest when it was finished the next year. The canvas was not only blank now, but bleak. I had a raised bed installed on the west side, mostly for perennials. I put in junipers to hold in the bank on the other side of the raised bed, had some trees planted to help with screening the neighbors on the north side. Lots of ferns and hostas went in on the east side, bordering the front of the house and the walkway to the front door. The ferns and hostas still thrive. All the screening trees succumbed to a combination of wind and not enough sun – wrong place, wrong plant. The irises in the original raised bed are doing fine as was the ninebark until last winter. The rest of the bed is a work in progress. My gardening friend and her husband came to visit early on and we planted three rugosas in what I euphemistically call the lower garden. I had seen them everywhere and had no idea that they were not native. Needless to say, I knew very little about invasive or native plants. Trial and error (so many errors) was the name of the game.

I knew I wanted to take the MGV course as soon as I read about it in the local paper, many years ago. I imagined it would be a way to learn more, become more integrated with the community, and do some volunteering; but I could never make it work with my schedule. Finally, through a combination of moving here full time, no jobs due to the pandemic, and the online classes, I was able to make it work. By this time my I knew a bit more. My husband had built me some raised planters and a couple of raised beds. I had a compost bin and I had begun planting vegetables, pollinator plants, and more natives from flowering plants to shrubs. I still had a lot to learn, but I felt that I could bring something to the volunteer experience.

I signed up to volunteer at the Extension Office gardens with Marjorie. I loved every minute of it. She is so inspiring and so much fun to work with, as were my fellow volunteers. When work at the Extension Office was delayed until June, I started working at the Native Gardens of Blue Hill. It was a very different experience which I also grew to really enjoy. So, in June I was at the Extension Office every week, weather permitting and at the Native Gardens every other week. I also spent a great day apple gleaning. I’ve made lots of new friends in both gardens and even found a fellow volunteer who I went to school with decades ago in CT.  I was having such a good time and learning so much that I over-achieved my required 40 hours and ended up with 95! I was glad that I had worked out steadily through the pandemic. I found some of my old skills from working in the theatre useful; I am good on a ladder and can tie knots. I also carry a knife which I used to kill a few ticks on the picnic table, much to everybody’s amusement.

I learned so much that is helpful in my own garden, including that the garlic I planted in 2020 probably rotted from being planted in a self-watering trough. I am trying again in a raised bed with garlic from the Extension Gardens that was not able to be donated. Fingers crossed!

I’m definitely going back to the Extension Office gardens this summer and will spend some time at the Native Gardens as well. I’m looking forward to working with everybody I met last year and helping with the Plant Sale, the new gardens at the Technical School, and the Loaves and Fishes property.

Coming up!
Spring Wellness Workshops Series for Master Gardener Volunteers

In the spirit of building resiliency in our MGVs as we start to gear up for another busy growing season in 2022, please join this four-part program begun by the Hancock and Washington County MGVs in 2020. Wellness workshops are offered via Zoom at no cost to current MGVs and are taught by fellow MGVs or other skilled/trained/certified local self-care experts. Take advantage of this chance to explore new knowledge of what and how we can maintain and strengthen ourselves!

We will use the same Zoom link for each session, and you don’t have to preregister.  Just join us.  Please mark your calendar:

  • Monday March 28, 12-1 pm. Improving Balance to Decrease the Chance of Falls, with Nancy Donovan
  • Monday April 4, 12-1 pm. Chair Yoga with Sara King
  • Monday April 11, 12-1 pm. Chi-Gong for Master Gardeners: Building Strength, Flexibility and Balance, with Nancye Files
  • Monday April 18, 12–1 pm. Self-Directed Biofeedback for Stress Relief, with Jen Harry

For more information about each session, and to obtain the ZOOM link, visit:   SPRING WELLNESS WORKSHOPS
Password:  ladybug


Shout out to all MGVs!

Know an MGV who’s done or is doing something intriguing or inspiring? Send in their name to MGVnewsletterinput@gmail.com; someone on the Newsletter team can follow up for a future newsletter spot.  We know there are so many neat stories out there or MGVs finding ways to apply our training and experience.

Please be reminded to REPORT your Master Gardener Volunteer hours monthly
Volunteer Hours are due NOW  – REPORT HERE

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.  Please contact us at MGVnewsletterinput@gmail.com 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
Holly, Jane, Wendy, Linda, Mary D., Mary H., Rita