A GardenRant shout-out to Adrian Higgins at the Washington Post for his stirring endorsement of Extension Services and related Master Gardener programs. Sadly, what makes it newsworthy are the recent cuts the Virginia legislature made in state funding, which effectively guts some very successful programs in Northern Virginia.
Higgins lauds the Virginia and nearby Maryland programs but doesn't mention D.C.'s Cooperative Extension Service or Master Gardener program. Ironically, it's DC's Extension Service that snagged a whupping big $5 million jolt of funding as part of the last federal farm bill, which goes to show that nutrition and growing food have some political support, at least in Congress, partly thanks to work by Mrs. Obama and the USDA.
Too bad the public won't see much for that extra $5 mil. DC's Master Gardeners have no organization, no projects (the usual and laudable teaching of the public, helping with school gardens, etc). They're not even allowed to have an email group to help them make things happen. Their lack of even a web presence speaks volumes. (A few of us started a website but were forced to shut it down). Bad reviews of other parts of the agency are commonly heard, so the problems are no secret, at least among activists and others in government.
Yes, I've ranted about this before and City Council members have been complained to, but Extension Services and Master Gardener programs aren't on anyone's radar. The public doesn't even know what they're supposed to be getting, so nobody complains. We can all hope Higgins's article gets people excited about what these programs actually can and are doing.