The Colorado Master Gardener Program: Planting Gardens, Growing People


The Colorado Master Gardener Program
in Larimer County


In Larimer County, a dedicated corps of 120 Colorado Master Gardener Volunteers bring a variety of outreach projects to life to education and inspire home gardeners. A wide variety of outreach avenues are available.


Community Outreach


Larimer County Farmers' Market
  • Farmers' Markets - The Colorado Master Gardener Program organizes, operates, and oversees the day-to-day management of the Larimer County Farmers' Market in Old Town Fort Collins. The market is located in the Larimer County Courthouse Parking Lot on Saturday mornings, 8 to 12 noon, from Late June to mid October. What a great opportunity to connect as a community, purchase fresh, locally grown produce from local vendors.

    The Larimer County Farmers' Market is the only Farmer's Market in Larimer County to accept SNAP benefits (formerly Food Stamps) at the market. Since its inception at the market in 2007, the SNAP program has grown tremendously, increasing sales by 77% from 2007 to 2010. We are proud to provide this service, allowing customers to get fresh and local produce with their SNAP benefits.

    CMG volunteers also staff Q&A booths at the Larimer County Farmers' Market plus the markets in Estes park and Berthoud. These booths serve as an outlet for customers to ask questions on vegetables, insects, disease, turf management, weed management and more.  On any given market day, Master Gardeners may answer up to 100 questions.

Larimer County Farmers' Market
  • Phone and Email Inquires - In 2011, Colorado Master Gardeners answered over 1,000 phone calls and emails from Larimer County residents.  This included time spent in the Extension Office staffing the phone hotline, as well as time spent at home answering email questions.  The peak of calls was in July, when many people's landscapes were suffering from drought stress.  

  • Loveland Youth Gardeners - This program teaches at-risk youth, ages 13-18, life skills through gardening.  Colorado Master Gardeners mentor participants in LYG to cultivate skills and promote stewardship through sustainable gardening and healthy living practices.  

  • Q&A Booths - Each season, Colorado Master Gardeners staff Q&A booths at a variety of places, including Bath Garden Center, Fort Collins Lowe's, Fort Collins Nursery, JAX Farm and Ranch, Rabbit Shadow Greenhouse, Wellington Ace Hardware and other speical events. Q&A booths are some of the most effective ways of contacting the public and answering questions from home gardeners.

CMGs working at CSU's Trial Gardens
  • Horticulture Research at CSU - Larimer County Master Gardeners work closely with Dr. Jim Klett and CSU's Plant Environmental Research Center (PERC) and the Annual Trial Gardens each season to study how woody plants, perennials and annuals perform in Colorado's climate. Colorado Master Gardeners help promote research by assisting with planting days and yearly evaluations.  

  • Larimer County Fair - With the largest 4-H program in Colorado, the Larimer County Fair is a big event each summer!  Colorado Master Gardeners assist with judging for the Horticulture and Garden Flowers -Open Class events, as well as staff a Q&A booth during the fair.  

Larimer County Farmers' Market
  • Writing Articles for the Local Papers - Each season, Colorado Master Gardeners sign up to write articles, short gardening tips and Q&As that are submitted to the Larimer County papers.  These articles run during the gardening season, from April through October and cover a variety of subjects, including vegetables, water wise gardening, herbs, insects, plant selection and more.

  • Tree Team - Trained CMG diagnosticians make house calls to evaluate, give recommendations and suggestions on stressed landscape trees.  To participate as a Tree Team member, a CMG must have at least two years experience in the program and two years experience as a diagnostician. Tree Team members are updated yearly with current research-based information on woody plant problems. In 2010, the Tree Team made 102 house calls. The fee is $25/hour and clines can call the office at 970-498-6000 to schedule a visit. The Tree Team serves the entire county, from Berthoud to Estes Park, Wellington, and everywhere in between.

CMGs doing lawn irrigation checkup
  • Other Outreach Events
  • Education for CMG Volunteers


    • CMG Basic Training is offered by a multi-county partnership with Larimer, Adams, Boulder, and Weld Counties. Larimer County offer both a daytime and evening course during the year.
    • The daytime course is held on Fridays, January through March at The Ranch (Larimer County Fairgrounds in Loveland).
    • The evening course is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, September to December in Boulder.
    • Larimer County pairs with Boulder, Weld, and Adams counties to offer many continuing education classes beyond basic training.  Some of these opportunities include:

    • Multi-county and regional educational opportunities include CMG Plus Classes, Colorado Updates (monthly CMG update sessions) ProGreen, CSU Short Course and CSU Field Days.
    • Special diagnostic training.
    • A variety of update trainings are offered through the year
    • Vegetables--basics to advanced
    • Herb gardening
    • Edible flowers
    • Mountain Pine Beetle update
    • Cut flowers
    • Hands-on Fruit Tree Pruning
    • Turf and Weed ID
    • PERC Arboretum Walks
    • Advances Soils
    • Saving Seeds
    • Tomato Variety Tasting

    Summary


    • CMG volunteers: 120
    • Annual volunteer hours: 6,000
    • Annual value of volunteer time: $132,000

    Contact Us

    CSU Extension, Larimer County Office
         1525 Blue Spruce Drive
         Fort Collins, CO 80524-2004
         Phone: (970) 498-6000
         Fax: (970) 498-6025
         CMG Email: larimermg@gmail.com

    CMG Staff