Monday, July 27, 2009

Stone County Couple Finds Volunteering Rewarding

Ken and Rose Schwarte of Branson West moved to the Ozarks to relax and retire and ended up finding a way to enjoy the rewards of volunteering.
In 2006 they attended and graduated from University of Missouri Extension’s Master Gardener training program.
After receiving 30 hours of basic horticulture training on a variety of topics, the Schwartes put the new knowledge to work on their home. They created a garden oasis in the back yard amid the challenging Stone County rock and soil.
Then one May night in 2008, a knock on the door came from neighbor Janice Sallee. She told the Schwartes of a camp that was putting gardens around cabins and wanted to know if the Master Gardeners would help.
The Schwartes agreed, went out to the Kids Across America camp and found an almost impossible task.
“Kids were going to be checking in to the camp in days. Flats and flats of plants were ready to be put in the ground. And the ground, well if you call rock and clay ground, was a challenge,” said Rose.
“That first year heart breaking; the flowers had nothing to grow in and no water,” said Ken.
Kids Across America (KAA) coordinator Dave Jahnlee asked the Schwarte's to help for 2009.
"I told him he would need to get us some soil, some compost, and water" said Ken.
Flowers were purchased from College of the Ozarks. The Schwartes went to work and the gardens started to take shape.
The numerous gardens in front of the cabins, barrels with flowers, cactus gardens at the entrance, and the near 40 hanging baskets, were all in place and ready for the campers to arrive.
Master Gardeners Ken and Rose Schwarte have donated over 250 hours to this project according to Tim Schnakenberg, agronomy specialist with University of Missouri Extension and coordinator of the Master Gardener program in Stone and Taney counties.
"A lot of work and some frustrations but all in all we are very pleased in the progress made in the landscaping this year,” said Ken.
The camp is now quiet and done for the summer. Ken and Rose are also active in other projects around the Ozarks. But each spring is reserved for the Kids Across America camp.
If you would like to know more about the Master Gardeners of the Ozarks chapter, call the University of Missouri Extension Center in Stone County at (417) 357-6812.

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