Administration – Sep ’13 Real Dirt


July/August Meeting Notes
Good Bye, Hello
New Board Positions Need You!
FALL 2013 MG Class is a ‘go’

Benzie Lighthouse

Benzie Lighthouse

July/August Meeting Notes

Sara Schmuldt

Natural Shoreline Tour,  July 26, 2013
Mike Jones, Benzie Conservation District
Carolyn Thayer, Designs in Bloom

The tour started at Almira Township Public Beach, Lake Ann and ended at a private residence on Upper Herring Lake. The Almira Township Public Beach is a newly planted project using native plants with a sandy beach area incorporated into the plan. Specific plants were identified and explanations of why they were chosen for the location were discussed. The benefits of how native plants and natural shorelines handle storm surges compared to the way sea walls handle storm surges was also discussed.

From Lake Ann we proceeded to a private residence on Big Platte Lake. This was an established, more mature natural shoreline planting. “It was designed for the Benzie Conservation District as a Shoreline Demonstration in 2005.” Originally, this site had lawn from the house to the lake. A variety of trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses were planted along the waters edge, providing beautiful views year around. This planting also provides sustaining wildlife habitat on land and in the water. Note: it looked like the neighbor was getting on board with the natural shoreline concept and doing some themselves!

The next stop took us to Watervale Resort on Lower Herring Lake. Here, coconut logs had been installed as a seawall with plantings on top of the “logs”. This is a huge project and very impressive. Native plants were used for the multiple flower gardens within the resort and above the seawall.

Our final stop was at a private residence on Upper Herring Lake. This site originally had a “failing railroad tie seawall” that was replaced with coir fiber logs (coconut logs) planted with native plants (similar to the planting at Watervale Resort). As the plants mature they will stabilize the shoreline with their deep roots.

This was a well planned, educational and aesthetically enjoyable tour.

Good Bye, Hello

Cheryl Gross and Matthew Betrand

We bid a fond farewell to our leader as Pam Schmidt Bardenhagen, our MSU Master Gardener Coordinator, moves on to work with her family’s agricultural business. Our thanks to Pam for all her efforts and dedication over the past several years helping us all to garden at our very best. Her efforts have made our region more beautiful, bountiful, and vibrant. Please be sure to give her your thanks at any and every opportunity. Fortunate for us, Pam will stay involved with Master Gardeners through our region’s vast horticultural activities. Change and transition can be difficult. After our close working relationship with Pam, who would MSU choose to replace her? The answer to that, couldn’t be better. As you may have heard, our very own, MGANM VP and Spring 2011 MG graduate, Matthew Bertrand, has been selected to be our region’s new MSU Master Gardener and horticultural educator. Congratulations to Matthew on his new post and a warm, welcoming Hello.


Matthew has over six years experience in horticulture and horticultural education. His experience includes youth gardening, gardening for food production, gardening for nature, and gardening for beauty. His career began as an AmeriCorps member for the Volunteer Center of Southern Arizona bringing youth volunteers to work on farms, demonstration gardens, and demonstration landscapes for water conservation in the Tucson area. Then, he dove fully into water conservation by helping Tucson non-profit Watershed Management Group develop a homeowner landscaping co-op, through which members volunteered for each other to transform their landscapes. During this time, he also worked for a unique non-profit nursery called Desert Survivors, which employed adults with developmental disabilities to grow over 500 species of plants native to the southwestern United States. Through gardening Matthew reveled in exploring all that made the Sonoran Desert unique, and in sharing his passion with his community.

On moving to Michigan, Matthew found work in natural areas management working in southeast Michigan to improve habitat for wildlife by controlling invasive plants. He then moved to Traverse City, Michigan to work as an invasive species specialist for the Grand Traverse Conservation District, where he enjoyed both field work and education. He helped form a unique partnership between nurseries and conservation organizations to improve regional gardens for wildlife by reducing sales of invasive ornamental plants, a partnership that became known as the Go Beyond Beauty program. To learn more about gardening outside a desert climate, Matthew took the Master Gardener program in Spring 2011. The knowledge he gained helped him to manage an 800 square foot garden in which he and his wife grew gorgeous tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplants, peppers, lettuce, kale, garlic, you name it, much of which they were pleased to put away for the winter. Matthew has five pet chickens for eggs, for entertainment, and to help improve the soils in his garden. Matthew loves gardening, whether for food, to create backyard habitat, to improve water quality, or simply for the sake of living in a beautiful place. He looks forward to inspiring others to take a more active interest in gardening, and to providing resources and support for them to find success in their goals. Matthew begins his new job on September 9, 2013.

NEW Board Positions Need YOU!

At the recognition dinner, as usual, we’ll vote for 2014 board positions. This year, we’re pleased to announce that the board has approved new positions. There will now be three additional full board positions with assigned responsibilities: Communications, Development, and Events. We’ll also have four new advisory positions that reflect MSU’s focus areas — Environmental Stewardship, Food Security and Hunger, Youth Gardening, and Social/Beautification. We’ll share more information in the coming weeks about these positions. In the meantime, please give thought to whom you think might best fill each of these roles.

FALL 2013 MG Class is a ‘go’

The class now has 30+ enrollees.  There was a push at the end to fill spots and many MGs spread the word.  Thanks to all for ensuring a FALL 2013 training class.  We can’t wait to meet our new trainees!