Thursday, June 17, 2021

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Master Gardeners digging up donations

Pam Niehues, left, Bonnie Rose, and Colusa County Master Gardeners Coordinator Gerry Hernandez check basil and other plants at the Demonstration Garden in Williams on Friday, ahead of the 2021 Big Dig Day of giving on June 4. (Pioneer Review / Susan Meeker)

Any day that people donate to the UC Master Gardener Program of Colusa County is a good day, but June 4 will be special.

This “Big Dig Day” is set aside annually to inspire generosity by raising awareness of the value of local agriculture programs.

On June 4, the Master Gardeners of Colusa County and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources aim to raise as much money as possible in a 24-hour period to expand outreach to benefit more people, said Gerry Hernandez, coordinator of the Colusa County program.

All the money they raise on that day will go toward maintaining the demonstration garden, which is located at the Colusa County Office of Education Village, in Williams.

The group has held several public educational events, including demonstrations on how to install a drip irrigation system, and the planting and care of a vegetable garden.

“It’s run entirely on donations,” said Hernandez, who was with Bonnie Rose and Pam Niehues at the garden on Friday.

Rose and Niehues co-chair the demonstration garden and have put in countless hours to make the garden a viable resource to educate the public on a variety of topics, including smart gardening practices, water and energy conservation, reducing waste by recycling, nurturing the soil, responsible pest control, supporting beneficial wildlife, and growing your own food.

So far, the Master Gardeners have planted a variety of tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and flowers. The demonstrations have been well attended by members of the community interested in learning how to grow their own food.

The group also plans to plant a variety of winter vegetables in late August or September.

“When we start doing the other two quadrants, we will need more supplies, plants, seeds, and irrigation equipment,” Hernandez said.

The group takes donations year-round and will be available during Colusa Founder’s Day on June 19 and the Arbuckle Certified Farmers Market on Wednesday evenings during the summer.

The Big Dig Day on June 4 is a special day held in conjunction with the United Nation’s World Environment Day to inspire people to give back to agriculture programs that benefit local communities.

“Messick’s Ace Hardware is kicking off the campaign by generously matching the first $250 of donations we receive,” Hernandez said. “We hope to raise $1000 for the demonstration garden.”

Those who are interested in joining the local Big Dig Day initiative are invited to visit the website at ucanr.edu/bigdig and select “Colusa County.”

All the money raised on June 4 will support the demonstration garden, which not only provides educational opportunities to the community, but provides locally grown produce to local food banks and food distribution programs. Supporters of the program can also drop off donations at the University of California Cooperative Extension office, located at 100 Sunrise Boulevard Suite E or mail to PO Box 180, Colusa, CA 95932. Checks can be made payable to UCANR.

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