UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Extension Master Gardeners expected there would be a renewed interest in home gardening in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, they developed the 10-part “Victory Garden Reinvented!” webinar series to support gardeners across the country.
In 2021, the Master Gardener program and the Penn State Extension horticulture team expanded this effort — aiming to reach the Latino community — and the webinars now are available in Spanish.
“The Master Gardener leadership team was quick to realize that because of the pandemic, people would be home more and would be excited to learn about growing their own food — not only to save money but also to have something meaningful to do with their time," said Valerie Sesler, area Master Gardener coordinator. "The Victory Garden Reinvented webinar series was the perfect way to meet our mission of educating the public with quality, research-based information.”
Maria Gorgo-Gourovitch, a horticulture extension educator, said, “The translation is in response to a request from Latino community leaders to increase the availability of home gardening programming in Spanish due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In addition to the webinars, nine fact sheets were translated by team members to provide additional information for gardeners and new farmers. Gorgo-Gourovitch noted that native Spanish speakers translated the webinar scripts and PowerPoint slides. All 10 webinars were recorded as well.
Part of Penn State Extension’s support of the growing Spanish-speaking population in Pennsylvania is a community of practice called the Latinx Agricultural Network.
A team of educators, students, faculty, administrators and grassroots advisers work to enhance outreach and education efforts across all sectors of the Penn State Extension portfolio.
Members of this network quickly responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and have coordinated efforts supporting multicultural needs, resulting in numerous timely products. The impact will continue to grow as network members add more materials.
“This will be a great tool for the public, but it will also support beginning farmers and provide information about the different types of fruits and vegetables that can be grown in this part of the U.S.,” said Gorgo-Gourovitch.
She pointed out that the Latino community makes up 75% of the agricultural workforce in the U.S. In some Pennsylvania industries, such as mushrooms, about 90% of the workers are Latino.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Census of Agriculture, the number of Hispanic principal farm operators in the country increased 24% to 112,451 during 2012-17. There were 759 Hispanic agricultural operators in Pennsylvania in 2017, up from 652 in 2012. These operators and their families make essential contributions to the well-being of Pennsylvanians through their work.
For more resources, visit the Penn State Extension Spanish Facebook page or contact Gorgo-Gourovitch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, there is a Spanish-language option on the 800-PENN-IPM hotline — 800-736-6476 — for tree fruit, vegetable and small-fruit growers and for Spanish-speaking stakeholders in the green industry, which encompasses the nursery, landscape, turfgrass and retail garden sectors.
The webinars are as follows:
Currently, 3,165 Master Gardener volunteers in Pennsylvania support Penn State Extension’s educational programs in consumer horticulture. They help extension better serve the home-gardening public by answering questions, speaking to groups, maintaining demonstration gardens, assisting in Penn State pollinator research and participating in many other projects.
More information is available online at https://extension.psu.edu/programs/master-gardener.