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A home for homegrown food at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Ten Master Gardener volunteers were part of the team that built The Foodscape surrounding the new Burton and Virginia Myers Education Center

Three women look at each other and at the strawberries growing out of holes in an aluminum tower that is about their height.
Julie Weisenhorn, left, with Master Gardener volunteers in front of the Burton and Virginia Myers Education Center.

The newly opened Burton and Virginia Myers Education Center at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum fulfills a dream of University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener volunteers to have a home base where they can teach and learn.

Thanks to a team of 10 Master Gardeners and Julie Weisenhorn, Extension horticulture educator and landscape designer, a bountiful garden called The Foodscape  surrounds the building, which includes a kitchen for cooking healthy foods and teaching food preservation. 

Large white kitchen with curved counter space; visitors are checking it out.
The Burton and Virginia Myers Center kitchen will allow Master Gardeners to teach how to preserve a garden harvest.

“For a gardening geek, nothing is better than working on a project at the Arb,” says Susan Strate, a Master Gardener in Hennepin County. “Everything is edible, from the rose hips to the acorn squash and shagbark hickory. I kicked my skills up a notch on landscape design — it was fun to learn that from Julie.

 “Everything is edible, from the rose hips to the acorn squash and shagbark hickory."

Pathways and patios

The areas around the Myers Center invite strolls and conversation. Jon Trappe, Extension turf grass educator, installed the Living Patio with a reinforcement system below the soil surface to allow the turf to withstand more foot traffic. A No-Mow Pollinator Lawn area showcases an alternative lawn type that has perennial pollinator friendly flowers scattered throughout. 

“Extension Master Gardener volunteers have contributed considerable effort and will be instrumental in the future of education happening here,” says Weisenhorn. “They are the heart and the soul of this.”

Three elements of The Foodscape 

According to Julie Weisenhorn, a foodscape is a place where people acquire and prepare food, talk about, and learn about food. The Foodscape at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum celebrates the beauty of food crops as elements of a managed landscape. 

  1. Like the traditional family farmhouse, the Myers Center is a welcoming space that promotes openness, learning and collegiality. The Foodscape design provided the opportunity to unify the new center with the historic red barn, the Fruitful Way, the Market Garden, and the Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center.
  2. Informal pathways invite visitors into The Foodscape to smell, touch and examine the plants. Being so close to the plants will help them envision replicating them in their own gardens.
  3. Designed for exploration, The Foodscape showcases new growing methods, new plants and new tools. These will help gardeners of all levels, whether they have acreage, a patio, a balcony or a community plot.
People mill about in the Foodscape area between the new building an the old red barn.


Ask a Master Gardener, or become one!

University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener volunteers are trained to answer Minnesota gardening questions, and when they don't know the answer, they will help you find it so you can learn together. You can find them at many farmers markets, at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, and you can reach them through the Ask a Master Gardener online form.

If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener volunteer, applications are accepted starting in August and you can ask to be notified when that happens.

A sign on the ground reads "Your gardening questions answered and has the University of Minnesota Extension logo. Other text is small and not readable.
The Burton and Virginia Myers Center at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is a home for Master Gardener education. 

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