Manatee and Franklin Counties Receive 2021 Master Gardener Legacy Funds

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

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Counties apply annually to receive grants for new or continuing educational projects.This year's Legacy Award winners include one of our oldest Master Gardener Volunteer programs and our newest. The Master Gardener Volunteer Program couldn't be more proud of the work of Manatee and Franklin County's MGVs. Read on for a summary of each county's winning proposal.

Manatee County Outdoor Classroom

Who says adults can't have just as much fun learning as kids? Following the success of the outdoor classroom attached to its children's garden, Manatee County Extension is creating a classroom for adults. This new facility will be installed at the Barbara Davis Educational Center.

The Barbara Davis Educational Garden was designed to educate the community and MGVs about proper horticultural practices. It demonstrates Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ principles throughout the gardens. The grounds include vegetable and herb plantings. Butterfly plants, wildflowers, rare fruits, and wetlands are also found on site. There is even a greenhouse and nursery area for plant propagation.

Shady wildflower garden with signage

The Barbara Davis Education Garden has education signage throughout. Photo courtesy of UF/IFAS Extension Manatee County.

With the grant, work will begin on the new outdoor classroom. The adult education space will seat 20 to 30 learners and will be furnished with instructional aids like a microphone and amplification system. Manatee agents hope to use the classroom to resume in-person, socially-distanced classes for both MGVs and partner programs. This new space for interactive, hands-on instruction will continue to support Manatee County Extension's legacy of innovation.

Franklin County Mobile Outreach

Franklin County Extension will be hitting the road with its Legacy Fund grant. The award will help fund the creation of two new mobile education units for Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ classes, waterwise education, and learning all about gardening in the Panhandle.

As the newest Master Gardener Volunteer Program in the state (established 2019), Franklin County agents want to focus on outreach. The county is unique in that its towns are spread across 45 miles of coastline. This makes it hard for residents in the easternmost part of the county to access the Extension office in Apalachicola.

The grant will fund two mobile educational/outreach units that Master Gardener Volunteers can bring along when traveling to events like plant clinics, festivals, and farmers markets. The units will include a video display and microscope. Attendees will be able to view plant specimens and insects under an LCD microscope. This novel peice of equipment will draw curious visitors. The video display will loop slides such as the 9 key FFL principles. In addition, a portable digital projector and screen will allow MGVs to present workshops at sites that lack media facilities.

Map of Franklin County, Florida showing that it's mostly coastal and wide

Detail of Florida map showing Franklin County.

This new approach of going where the people already are active will allow us to reach new sections of the county, spread out plant clinics, give people hands-on experience, and recruit volunteers for next year's training.

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