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Oregon Family Magazine

Bring Sustainability to Your Garden This Spring

04/02/2024 ● By Daniel Hiestand
What does it mean to be a sustainable gardener? 

According to Erica Chernoh, assistant professor of Practice in Community and Commercial Horticulture with Oregon State University Extension Service, there is no hard-and-fast definition.

“To me, it means using gardening practices that conserve natural resources, minimize fertilizer and pesticide inputs, or use the least toxic options available, and reduce waste,” said Chernoh, who helps oversee the Lane County Master Gardeners Program. Sustainability is at the heart of the program, which offers free and low-cost educational resources to help novice and experienced gardeners thrive. Additionally, public workshops are offered throughout the year on topics ranging from soil testing to edible gardening to composting. 

“(The workshops are open to) anyone that wants to learn more about gardening,” Chernoh said. “Gardening is a great way to grow some of your own food, get some exercise, and connect with the earth. Master Gardener volunteers are here to help.”

Furthermore, Master Gardener volunteers are available via phone, online, or in-person to answer gardening questions for any community members regarding garden-related challenges, including weeds, plant disease, and insect challenges. 

About Lane County Master Gardeners

The Oregon State University Extension Master Gardener™ program educates Oregonians about the art and science of growing and caring for plants. The program is in 27 counties across the state, and trains thousands of Master Gardener volunteers. OSU Extension Master Gardeners are volunteer educators, neighbors, and on-the-ground researchers who serve their community with solid training in science-based, sustainable gardening and a love of lifelong learning. Learn more at

The top 3 sustainable gardening tips

  1. Build healthy soil by adding organic matter through the use of compost and cover crops.
  2. Select the right plant for the right place. Choose plants well-suited to your garden’s climate, soil, and light exposure so the plant can grow well and stay healthy. Select disease-resistant varieties, when possible, to help reduce the need for fungicides or other pest management methods.
  3. Use drip irrigation, soaker hoses, or other irrigation methods that reduce and conserve water use in the garden.
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