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ben capozzi
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I'm not sure where is the best place to ask this question, but after not seeing anything in the Communities forum, this made the most sense.

Are there folks here who are Master Gardeners AND Permaculturists and if so, how do you square the two commitments?

I've gotten upset a few times during my MG training when we spent time on chemical solutions and the supposed dearth of “non-scientifically-validated alternatives.” There's very little discussion that are other ways to maybe do this better.

I read that Paul Wheaton is a MG, and one of my own mentors locally is an MG. I was really excited to begin the training and to graduate 4 months later, but here I am as I type this, literally, in a Land Care Steward training course for Advanced MGs and our instructor has just talked about treating bamboo in the spring and late summer with “as much RoundUp as the instructions will allow for, probably, 5 to 10 years.”

This does not sound like stewardship to me. I joined the MGs to become a true gardener, a cultivator of the land and resources. I read and feel (yes, I FEEL it, unscientific as that is) that permaculture is right. It is wise. It is good and I get upset when industrial chemical solutions are so widely embraced, especially by volunteer gardeners who want to do good work in their communities.

Occasionally, I feel like the MGs are errand boys for big ag and big chemical. Is this a regional inflection? Is it my own misperception? What do I not understand about glyphosate, science (I'm admittedly not a strong science person), agriculture, ecology, and/or the scientific method? I'm willing to be wrong, but I don't have the hard science memorized so I often feel like I'm ill-prepared to challenge these chemical notions when they're put forward.

~ben
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Howdy Ben, I was a Master Gardener in Wyoming , years ago. Same thing happened there so I think it is pretty common. I, and others in the program there, would just jump over the chem stuff and give as much Organic advise as we could. The extension agent didn't like it but we were all he had.
 
ben capozzi
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Thanks, Miles! I'm not sure we have those kinds of numbers, here! =]
 
John Polk
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Yeah. Because of their emphasis on chemical treatments for everything, I have stayed away from the program.
The MG program is through the Extension Service, which is associated with the Land Grant state university. The state universities are partially funded by the major agricultural corporations. Of course there will be a bias in the education. Money doesn't talk, it swears !

Most of the county agents were educated in those same compromised systems. There are a few that are into organic practices, but they are a small minority.

Watauga County, NC has an extension agent who is a PDC instructor. That's pretty odd in a system that survives by BigAg money.

 
ben capozzi
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John Polk wrote:Watauga County, NC has an extension agent who is a PDC instructor. That's pretty odd in a system that survives by BigAg money.


Holy cow! That may be close to where I live; I will look into that! Thanks, John!
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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Hey Ben - what you describe is pretty common (John describes the situation well above). I am a MG (Arizona) and a permaculture designer and PDC teacher. Here in Phoenix, our MG program is slowly being infiltrated by permaculturists! It has happened over the past decade, so it's not a speedy process.

When I became an AZ MG back in 2008, even at that time, some instructors were loathe to recommend chemicals. Since then, two very well known local permaculturists now teach sections of the curriculum - one does a section on water harvesting and the other does integrated design! The whole program is now managed by a woman who is permaculture friendly and an advocate of sustainable, non-chemical solutions.

So it can happen, but one needs to develop a groundswell. That needs to come from folks like you!
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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Also a plug FOR the MG program:

A PDC can only introduce people to the basics of permaculture and get them started on a climate-appropriate design. However, a lot of details are left for other classes. This is where I think the MG program can be greatly beneficial. I learned many propagation techniques, became more familiar with native plants and found out about experiments the Extension folks were conducting through the MG program.

Also the Extension folks are critical partners in the community garden movement in Phoenix along with St. Luke's Health Initiative and the Valley Permaculture Alliance. I know I have written grants for urban orchards and other projects where buy-in from the MG program was critical. Our main St. Vincent de Paul campus has an urban orchard and community garden because of their input.

Ag Extension also has the land and tools to do some cool experiments like one that is still ongoing using low bush blueberries as an understory in a citrus grove.

So despite some things like use of chemicals, the MG program also has many aspects that can be hugely beneficial for permies. And if permies slowly infiltrate the ranks of the MG program...well that's cool too!
 
ben capozzi
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Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:Also a plug FOR the MG program...So despite some things like use of chemicals, the MG program also has many aspects that can be hugely beneficial for permies. And if permies slowly infiltrate the ranks of the MG program...well that's cool too!


Thank you, Jennifer! That is awesome and helpful!
 
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