(BRIDGEWATER, NJ) ― The Rutgers University Master Gardener Program, a volunteer organization of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, annually recognizes the outstanding volunteer work done by members of each county organization. In Somerset and Hunterdon Counties the Seeds to Salad Team was recently honored at the 29th Annual Rutgers Master Gardeners Association Conference for the work the team accomplished in local elementary schools. Bedminster resident Dave Johnson was also honored for his outstanding work at Rutgers Snyder Research and Extension Farm.
The Seeds to Salad program, led by Whitehouse Station resident Lona Nonni, have volunteers working in four different elementary schools in Somerset and Hunterdon Counties throughout the academic year. With help from these Rutgers Master Gardeners, teachers and parent volunteers enable the very young students to learn about nutrition, soil, earthworms, rainfall and insects as they plant and harvest a bounty of edible vegetables. The team members, Ellen Kaplan, Marilyn Hulme, Beverly Pranzatelli, Joanne Karpinich, Carolyn Taylor, Anita Sawczuk and Barbara Pinzur, love to hear the students rave about the yummy tastes of the vegetables they nurtured from tiny seeds to a bountiful harvest at the “salad fest” party held at the close of each school year.
Dave Johnson became a certified Rutgers Master Gardener in 2003 and since has devoted more than 1500 volunteer service hours to various volunteer activities. Dave came from a farming family and after retiring as Director of Materials Research at Bell Laboratories he came “back” to farming as a team leader at the Rutgers Snyder Research and Extension Farm in Pittstown. At the Farm, Dave’s team of 28 Master Gardeners help support 18 fruit and vegetable projects on 14 acres. Dave has been the Tour Guide Coordinator for the Tomato Tastings tours and has even been known to cut lumber from trees to make much needed tomato stakes!
The Rutgers Master Gardeners of Somerset and Hunterdon Counties are justifiably proud of the accomplishments of their fellow Master Gardeners. Anyone interested in more information about the Rutgers Master Gardener program can contact the local county Rutgers Cooperative Extension office; Rutgers Cooperative Extension is an equal opportunity program provider and employer.