The Washington State University Master Gardener Program is continuing to support the state’s food production and distribution chain thanks to the essential status granted under Gov. Jay Inslee’s continuing Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.

Since 1973, the WSU Master Gardener program has been cultivating plants, people and communities across the state.

“University-trained volunteers empower and sustain diverse communities with relevant, unbiased, research-based horticulture and environmental stewardship education,” Jennifer Marquis, who leads the WSU Master Gardener Program, said. “The program addresses critical issues that are important to the health and wellness of Washington residents.”

WSU Extension operates around 85 demonstration gardens across the state, with a presence in 31 counties. Last year, the WSU Master Gardener program produced more than 65,000 pounds of fresh food for food banks thanks to the work of nearly 5,000 volunteers.

The governor’s exemption is designed to recognize the popular WSU Extension program’s essential support of the state’s food production and distribution chain while taking steps to protect its staff and volunteers.

“Food security is a growing concern across our state,” Marquis said.  “Demonstration gardens are commonly used as outdoor classrooms to teach sustainable, best gardening practices with food gardening education as a component of the education offered. Hands-on workshops and classes held in demonstration gardens provide community members with practical, science-based information on how to be successful in growing their own fruits and vegetables. Food raised in the beds used for teaching supports food security and the health and wellness of Washington residents.”

To comply with the state’s existing order, the WSU Master Gardner Program is permitting volunteers to perform limited maintenance in demonstration gardens. Volunteers are also taking the following precautions:

  • At least two, but no more than 10 volunteers are allowed to provide maintenance in a garden at a given time.
  • All volunteers must be able to maintain at least six feet of distance between one another, the further the better.
  • Volunteers should wear respiratory etiquette masks as recommended by the CDC
  • Shared surfaces, such as tools, hose spigots or hose handles, must be sanitized using approved cleaners.

More information on the WSU Master Gardner program can be found on its website.

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