This summer Portland will host the biennial International Master Gardener Conference. An important part of the conference is recognition of Master Gardener chapters which have undertaken projects worthy of the International Master Gardener Search for Excellence Award. Search for Excellence projects fall into one of seven categories including Youth Programs, Demonstration Gardens, Community Service and more. One of Oregon’s four award-winning projects includes Lincoln County’s Yaquina Bay Lighthouse and School Garden.
Lincoln County’s Youth Programs project, the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse Garden, is an educational heritage garden meant to recreate kitchen garden and companion pollinator plots maintained by lighthouse keepers and their families in the 1870s. It is a collaborative effort between Newport’s elementary schools, Lincoln County Master Gardeners, Oregon Parks and Recreation, Friends of the Yaquina Lighthouses, Lincoln County School District and the local Food Share and community food pantries.
The garden’s goals: to demonstrate, educate, and inspire, are furthered by involving elementary school students in organic sustainable gardening and landscaping activities while creating an inspiring venue for visitors. The students start plants from seed and, under the tutelage of Master Gardener Volunteers, follow the project through the seasons to harvest and to prepare the beds for overwintering. Fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden give the students tangible evidence of the benefits of their work and the bulk of the produce goes to local food pantries.
Information provided by Lincoln County Master Gardeners Program