The Colorado Master Gardener Program: Planting Gardens, Growing People
Colorado Master Gardener Outreach in Arapahoe County
Colorado Center for the Blind Legacy Garden
The students at the Colorado Center for the Blind (CCB) are given an opportunity to work with the Colorado State University Extension, Arapahoe County Master Gardener Program to experience the challenge and satisfaction of flower and vegetable gardening. The students help with all aspects of gardening from amending the soil, to planting, weeding, and harvesting produce to be used in the CCB kitchen.
CCB is a world-renowned training center located in Littleton, Colorado, sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind. The training employs innovative teaching techniques and a philosophy that takes blind people to new heights of independence.
The Legacy Garden was originally created in 2002 to honor students who have completed the CCB program. Since that time more than 650 students have been influenced by the gardening program. Their comments: “I learned so many new things and had a lot of fun doing it,” and “I’ll use this fresh tarragon to make my mother’s chicken dish.“
The age of the students at CCB varies from older adults, young adults, and teenagers. Some have been without sight for years, others only months. Some have gardened before, but for many this is their first experience. With a bit of help, all the students can become confident gardeners.
As sighted gardeners, we often do not appreciate the full sensory experience of gardening. How often do we really stop and smell the roses? Using their sense of touch and smell, the students can explore the garden and come away with a real understanding of the plants. A ripe tomato feels very different than a green tomato. The fuzzy leaves of squash feel different than the soft lamb’s ear. The smell of chocolate mint is just as intoxicating as the aroma of a rose. Sandy and clay soils are easily recognizable by touch.
Working with a terrific team of CMGs and the amazing students at CCB is a wonderful experience for all. As a CMG volunteer, it is unbelievably rewarding to help people experience the joy of gardening in new and different ways.
Written by Susan McGilvray, CMG volunteer. Photographs by Janina Kozacka.
CSU Extension, Arapahoe County Office
6934 S. Lima St.
Centennial, CO 80112