I have over 1,200 RSS subscriptions in my Google Reader and readily concede that it is way over populated. Even without an RSS reader however, I could stay productive with the short list of search strings on my Google News page.
One of the most active strings is "urban agriculture" OR "urban farming". These search words describe a current media buzz. Of all the topics I research this is the one that most reveals the low quality of our horticultural education system.
The news articles reveal that we have politicians all over the country who are following political pressure from dirt farming and gardening activists who obviously know little about modern urban food production techniques. Thanks to our antiquated education, all they know are traditional methods of plowing and tilling. The politicians unfortunately know even less. It is a classic case of the blind leading the blind.I’ll get to the point of this post. One of the vaunted and highly publicized educational assets of the USDA Extension Program is the so-called Master Gardener program. The reach of USDA propaganda is highly leveraged through this army of unpaid gardeners.
However, the quality of the education they deliver is highly questionable. This article demonstrates it. It is about the Annual Arizona Highlands Garden Conference coming up in August. It is a meeting of Arizona Master Gardeners at a casino/golf course resort.
The article states that the primary focus of the conference is quote, “Reaping the rewards of enriching our soil and using our water wisely”. That certainly makes sense since Arizona is a desert state. Knowing this, read the extensive article that details the speakers and subjects. There is not one word about highly productive, water-saving sub-irrigated planter systems (SIPs).Further there is a link to the local Master Gardener program website. As usual, I did some basic site searching and found thin gruel on the subject of sub-irrigation or the inappropriate but commonly used term “self-watering”. A further search for educational information about the popular EarthBox turned up even less.
The USDA Extension and Master Gardener programs are clearly living in some prior century. Who knows which one. Oh well, it’s only taxpayer money we’re wasting. We can print some more. We can't print water though.
Reaping the rewards of enriching our soil and using our water wisely along will be the focus of the 11th Annual Arizona Highlands Garden Conference, Aug. 27-28, at the Mazatzal Casino in Payson. The conference, titled "Sustainable Gardening for Homes and Communities," will feature outstanding speakers, tours and workshops.