For a Master, Year-Round Gardening | Local News

SHERIDAN — For Harold Golden, gardening season is year-round.

“Some people look at a travel magazine and dream. Well, gardeners will sit down with a seed catalog and get lost,” said Golden, a master gardener. “Plan, learn from what went wrong last year, come up with a new plan. … You might think winter is a slow time, but it’s not. It’s always gardening time. »

Golden, who first learned gardening from his own mother, was named the recipient of the Rooted in Wyoming Volunteer of the Year Award for 2021. Golden was recognized for his “tremendous contribution and commitment” to volunteerism in primary gardens in Coffeen and Meadowlark, as well as the construction and installation of new signage for six of RIW’s school and community gardens.

“Harold enjoys sharing his knowledge and experience with others,” said RIW President Ami Erickson. “He has been an incredible asset to RIW, and we appreciate his support.”

One of the reasons he enjoys gardening, Golden said, is that even in Wyoming, you can see success with very little investment and in a short time. Ever humble, Golden himself is a Master Gardener in the University of Wyoming Extension Program and has years of experience. Not only did he learn by trial and error, but master gardeners are also scientific gardeners who promote research-backed horticulture.

“I started gardening when I was a kid and my mom taught me,” Golden said. He continued to accumulate knowledge as he grew older. He is a wildlife biologist and at the time rated Colorado State University’s curriculum as excellent.

“I still use stuff I learned in college. Now that I’m older, I’m able to put things together and be like, ‘Aha! That’s why it works this way,” Golden said.

Master gardeners teach people who may not know how to garden and work with people who would like to learn more. They use applied science, he says, because it works.

“Luck has nothing to do with it, it has to do with science. The more I learn, the easier it gets and the less I work,” Golden said. “It’s about finding ways to work with nature instead of fighting it, and these are the things that master gardeners try to teach.”

Rooted in Wyoming was formed in 2016 by a group of volunteers out of an immediate and long-standing community desire to promote a better understanding of local foods, nutrition and sustainability in the community. Volunteers continue to play a vital role in moving every garden project forward. RIW partners with community organizations and schools to facilitate outreach programs and cultivate educational gardens. RIW envisions a future where everyone in Wyoming has access to fresh, local food and is equally motivated to grow their own.

The Master Gardeners’ mission closely mirrors that of Rooted in Wyoming, Golden said, and so the connection is natural.

RIW created its annual award to recognize community members who demonstrate commitment, dedication, and outstanding volunteer service to the nonprofit organization’s mission to build school and community gardens. In 2021, Golden has volunteered over 100 hours at RIW Gardens and Projects. He helped design, frame, and install new yard signage as part of a Wyoming state forestry grant. Garden and educational signs were displayed at Isidore’s Garden at Holy Name Catholic School, Henry A. Coffeen Elementary School, Meadowlark Garden, Pride Garden at Woodland Park Elementary School, Eagle’s Nest Garden in Ranchester and Ram’s Harvest Garden at Big Horn Primary School.

“Harold has brought his incredible positive attitude to our Meadowlark School Garden project,” said Ian Wallace, Meadowlark Elementary Garden Manager. “His help has been invaluable in building and preparing our raised beds for this season. We can’t wait to start planting and I look forward to working more with Harold in the future.

Golden said he enjoys working with children and attributes their knowledge and enthusiasm to their teachers.

“Children are like sponges, they are easy to learn. I attribute that to the teachers,” Golden said. “When they go out to the garden, I often find that they have a little perspective and that they are already on the subject. They are pumped and enthusiastic, and they love being outdoors. We are simply helping to build on what the teachers started.

Golden said there are 55 master gardeners in Sheridan County and many more have also volunteered for Rooted in Wyoming.

Chris Hilgert, state coordinator for the UW extension’s Master Gardener, called Golden a dedicated and passionate volunteer. His enthusiasm for gardening helped develop the Sheridan County Master Gardener program, and his volunteer efforts and coordination with other volunteers and community partners have resulted in hundreds of volunteer hours. His work has led to a number of projects that benefit home gardeners, introduce young people to gardening, and support farmers’ markets and local growers, Hilgert said.

“He really deserves this recognition from RIW,” said Hilgert. “On behalf of the UW Extension Master Gardener Program, I want to congratulate Harold and thank you for all you do for your community.”

There is no longer an agricultural extension educator in Sheridan County through UW programs. Although that leaves a void, Golden said the master gardeners are working to fill it with volunteers.

“In a perfect world, people with questions about their garden would call the extension office and speak to the extension worker. We don’t have any more, so that’s one of the functions of the master gardeners,” Golden said. “We’re not just teaching in schools, but we’re looking at teaching a class this spring on not only gardening, but also lawn and tree care.”

People can call the county extension office and calls will be transferred to a master gardener, Golden said.

“There is a need there. People are hungry for gardening knowledge. We learn from grandma, we learn from our mother. Mom may not have come from Wyoming,” he said. “We learned a few things about gardening and can’t wait to share what we learned.”

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