MSHS Awards Honor Minnesota’s Giving Gardeners

Each year, MSHS honors gardeners and garden groups who give back to their communities in notable ways. Full stories about each of the winners are included in the November/December 2017 issue of Northern Gardener, which is being delivered to subscribers this week, and will be on newsstands about Nov. 1.

Last Saturday, MSHS awards were presented at a luncheon and ceremony at Bachman’s in Minneapolis. Bobby Jensen of Grow with KARE was emcee for the event, which also included a demonstration on creating fall decor.

Those honored were:


Nola Wagner is hugged by MSHS CEO Rose Eggert at the awards ceremony. Nola won the Life Service Award.

Life Service Award — Nola Wagner Since 2010, Nola and her family business, Wagners Greenhouses, have donated thousands of dollars’ worth of plant material to our Garden-in-a-Box program, helping children and families in need experience the benefits of gardening. She’s also been an MSHS board member, donor and significant supporter of Minnesota Green and the Spring Garden Gala.

Volunteer Recognition Award — Susan Hoehn Since 2012, Sue Hoehn has logged more than 500 volunteer hours with MSHS—in the office, at events and wherever she is needed. You’ll recognize Sue by her friendly demeanor and dry sense of humor.

Garden Club Award — Arlington Garden Club Since 1930, the Arlington Garden Club has worked to beautify this city of 2,200. This spring, club members worked with the Sibley County ACT on Alzheimer’s organization to create a butterfly garden for people with memory loss and their caregivers to enjoy. This project was a big commitment for the 19 club members, who water, weed and maintain the space, that many city residents enjoy.

St. Paul Garden Club Award — Urban Roots The mission of Urban Roots is to build vibrant and healthy communities through food, conservation, youth development programs, education and youth action programs. The program offers paid internships for teenagers who plant, maintain and harvest small-scale crops.

Governor’s Certificate of Commendation — Rice Street Gardens Created in 2016, Rice Street Gardens is a thriving community garden consisting of 260 plots. Most gardeners—80 percent—are immigrants, refugees, apartment dwellers or food-insecure families. Like many new community gardens, the founders of Rice Street Gardens faced challenges, such as gaining permission to use the land and access to water. By forming partnerships with sponsors, Rice Street Gardens has experienced success in its first season.

 Bronze Award — Gary Johnson A University of Minnesota Extension professor, Gary Johnson spreads his love of trees through teaching and research. An expert in urban forest health stress disorders (such as deicing-salt damage and urbanized soils), tree preservation and diseases of trees and shrubs, Johnson is the chair of the Minnesota Shade Tree Short Course, the coordinator of the Minnesota Tree Care Advisor program and the coordinator of Minnesota Tree Inspector Core Course certification workshops.



Betty Sletta, center, accepts an award for the school garden at Jefferson Elementary School in New Ulm. MSHS CEO Rose Eggert and emcee Bobby Jensen are shown with Betty.

Youth Award — Jefferson Elementary, New Ulm Under the leadership of Beth Sletta, 10 MSHS Garden-in-a-Box kits to serve 300 to 350 students and community members were installed at Jefferson Elementary. Teachers use the garden to teach science and math in a hands-on way.

Youth Award — Wadena-Deer Creek School System — In one of the most economically challenged counties in the state, the schools are using Garden-in-a-Box kits to teach gardening, healthy eating and responsibility. The gardens, part of an amazing high school agriculture program, are part of a summer gardening program in Wadena.

Community Livability Award — David Smith and Dianne Patras Smith, Williams Park Community Garden, North Branch — Dave and Diane spearheaded a project to create a vibrant community garden in an underused space at Williams Community Park in North Branch. Experienced vegetable gardeners and Chisago County Master Gardeners, Dianne and Dave sought funding, oversaw construction, tilled the plots and taught garden classes at the garden. Together, Dave and Dianne have donated more than 860 volunteer hours to the project.

MSHS Sponsorship Award — Deb Kvamme Thanks to Deb Kvamme and the landscape and horticulture program at Hennepin Technical College, community gardens connected with Minnesota Green have received thousands of high-quality plants over the past 20 years. The plants come from the Hennepin Tech plant sale held each May. Grown by horticulture students, community gardeners look forward to receiving these top-quality annuals, vegetables and herbs for their spaces.

Thank you to these gardeners and the thousands of other generous community gardeners throughout Minnesota!

MSHS awards demo

Jenn Hovland of Fleur de Louise flower studio demonstrates fall floral arrangement ideas.




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