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Experiential Learning Garden at Walton County Extension

In 2016, the Walton County Master Gardener program took root, and we have grown to 50 active master gardeners providing over 3,000 volunteer hours annually back to the community. In January 2023, we assisted in relocating the Walton County Extension office from downtown Monroe to a brand-new building beside the Walton County Agricultural Center on Criswell Road. Located near Criswell Park with ball fields, indoor/outdoor pickleball courts, disc golf, and a livestock arena, our new location offers a myriad of opportunities for growth and education. 

Adjacent to our extension office is an acre of land, generously allocated by Walton County for our use. Our first objective was to construct a greenhouse. Through a lot of determination fueled by fundraising, grants, and community support, we erected a 20’x40’ sidewall greenhouse with rolled tubing, covered by UV-treated poly greenhouse film, with electricity and an 8-zone irrigation system. This greenhouse has already become a hub of activity, hosting propagation workshops, and serving as the centerpiece for our Annual Plant Sale and the MWCA Garden Tour on successive weeks in April, where we had over 1,000 in attendance.

Much gratitude for our greenhouse goes to Debbie Davis-Haines, whose unwavering dedication spearheaded this project. Her tireless efforts have transformed our gardening resources and production, and we recently honored her by naming our greenhouse after her.  

After talking to various groups, attending several workshops, and visiting numerous gardens in Georgia, we are ready to begin creating an Experiential Learning Garden – a dynamic space designed to educate, inspire, and nourish our community. We envision having raised beds for demonstration gardens and plant clinics; pollinator, herb, annual, shade, and perennial gardens; an outdoor education area for talks; a pavilion with sinks for washing produce;  a composting area, including vermicomposting; and vegetable gardens to target food insecurity. Funding will be sourced through grants, fundraisers, and community partnerships. This preliminary drawing will be used as a guideline as we begin gathering input from the community and envisioning our next steps.

This year, we broke ground on our garden project on January 30 by first establishing an 1100 sq ft pollinator garden. We began by drawing out the 22'x42' garden, edging the area, covering the grass with cardboard, wetting the cardboard, and then overlaying it with a thick bed of compost. This method has been used successfully by many of our master gardeners, and we have used it as a teaching tool for several gardens in the community.

In late April, we tilled under the compost with help from Walton County Parks & Rec Dept, took a soil test, and provided the necessary amendments to the soil.

In May, we planted 114 deer-resistant, pollinator-friendly, native plants, mulched, and edged with river rock. We beautified the garden with bird feeders, benches, and plant signs.

In addition, Walton County has provided fencing for our garden, and will construct a storage shed and pavilion later in the fall.

This year, we will also be raising funds by selling engraved bricks for an ADA accessible pathway, and are excited about giving the Walton County community this unique opportunity to buy a brick and leave their legacy in our garden!

We invite the community to stop by, and you can always find us working in the garden on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month from 9 to 10:30 AM, if you have specific questions about the plants, or just want to help.

Save the date for the Great SE Pollinator Count on Saturday, August 24, as we will be using the pollinator garden at the Experiential Learning Garden at Walton County Extension for the pollinator census count.

Our goal as Walton County Master Gardeners is not only to cultivate gardens, but also to cultivate connections, and we are excited to see what lies ahead!


See you in the Garden!


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