New State President

I’d like to start with an old Chinese saying:

To be happy for an hour, have a bottle of wine. To be happy for a year, get married. To be happy for a lifetime, plant a garden.

And so my happy life has gone – with my very first memories that of a victory garden in the waning years of World War II.  No matter where I’ve been, growing plants has been part of my personal landscape.  I know I was the only one in my college dorm with indoor planters!  And I knew that when I retired I wanted to become a Master Gardener.

This is a wonderful time to be a MG.  Interest in gardening is widespread – especially in vegetables, and if you’ve checked your local grocery story lately you know why.  Many of us see that interest reflected in the questions we field at our Plant Clinics and gardens.

Once upon a time, we passed on gardening information between and among generations and neighbors, and some of us can still remember at least the tail end of that tradition – but today, with families moving around and across the country and the ever increasing urbanization (and suburbanization) of our population, that has changed.

Today MGs fill that niche: educating those who are interested in learning about gardening.  The difference is that our information is science based, supports sustainable practices, and is as accurate as we can make it.  (My guess is that the “olden days” weren’t quite as golden as nostalgia would sometimes lead us to believe.)

Will MGs still be relevant as we look into the future?  Very much so, I think, as we can all clearly see major changes in the American approach to food and to diet on the horizon.  The convergence of climate changes, growing populations around the world and the diversion of food crops into alternate energy sources already mean that the old ways of feeding the world’s people, and even the people here in the USA, are feeling the pinch of change.  And food safety questions continue to plague the marketplace, which only makes those home-grown veggies even more appealing.

Who better to be midwives to some of this change than knowledgeable and committed MGs?  We are, and will continue to be, on the frontlines of these challenges.

I am honored to become President of the State Master Gardener Foundation at this time – especially following in Mary Shane’s footsteps.  She has done a magnificent job steering our MG organization through some tumultuous times – times that promise only to be more challenging as we all navigate difficult funding decisions by governmental bodies at every level.

A few words about me personally:  I completed my MG training in 2003, and have been President of the King County Foundation for four years.  I am a retired Human Resources manager, married with two daughters and one (absolutely sterling) granddaughter, and a total passion for Hydrangeas.  To all of you I haven’t yet met, I’m looking forward to the possibility.  Invite me to a meeting and, if it is at all doable (and the passes aren’t totally snowed in) I’ll come.

Judy Porterfield

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