Sumter and Walton Counties Receive the 2023 Legacy Award

The Master Gardener Legacy Fund was created to provide financial support for outstanding Master Gardener Volunteer projects.

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Every year, counties apply to the Florida Master Gardener Legacy Fund in hopes that they will win funding. This year, UF/IFAS Extension Sumter and Walton County Master Gardener Volunteer programs won the award for their proposals.

Sumter County: Youth Garden

Children working in a raised bed of lettuce in a big bountiful garden under blue skies

For the past 20 years, Sumter County MGVs have been volunteering with the Busy Bug Garden Club, an afterschool program at the Youth Center of Sumter County.

About 25-30 children participate in the twice-weekly program. MGVs teach the budding gardeners about both gardening and community service at the center’s youth garden.

In 2022, over 2,300 pounds of produce were harvested by the club, and a large portion was donated to a local food bank.

In order for this successful partnership to continue however, MGVs realized that much of the garden’s infrastructure needed to be replaced for the success of their effort to continue. They applied for the award from the Master Gardener Legacy Fund to cover the cost of installing new signage, replacing a grape pergola, and replenishing biodegradable produce bags. Because of the Sumter MGVs’ efforts to renovate the youth garden, this important community program can continue for years to come.

Walton County: Coastal Branch Extension Office Landscaping Project

Seven volunteers pose with their garden tools as they work in a landscape in front of a brick building

Prior to this project, the Walton County Coastal Branch Extension office in Santa Rosa Beach had a landscape that was overgrown and neglected. However, a team of MGVs had a vision for transforming this area into a demonstration garden that educated visitors and volunteers on the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL) principles.

So far, volunteers have developed a master plan, removed unnecessary plants, and installed initial plantings according to the “right plant, right place” FFL principle.

Although much progress has already been made, there is still work to be done. Walton County MGVs applied for funding to purchase more plants, add compost and fertilizer, secure mulch for future applications, and place signage. The current landscape has already been used for educational programs. Once completed, it will be featured in future MGV trainings, utilized in lectures, and open to the public and media.

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