As a program assistant for one of Oregon's most enriching courses, the Master Gardener Program, Beret teaches a variety of individuals about the wonders of the Earth -- from the ins and outs of compost, to natural pest management to native plant growth, Beret covers a wide breadth of gardening-related information. She also just loves the feeling of working in the dirt! More photos below:
Beret Halverson grew up tending her Grandmother's garden on summer visits in Montana, and later studied ethno-botany and eastern religion in Vermont and South India. She's just completing her masters in Public Administration with the hope of bringing gardening to more schools and neighborhoods in need of green space in which to grow food. Beret is a natural teacher, with an expertise in making gardening information accessible to a diverse population.
The Master Gardener Program Beret assists in coordinating a 12 week course dedicated to teaching people the art and science of growing plants. The topics covered include gardening with children, seniors and people with disabilities, water quality protection, composting and integrated pest management. The master gardeners must complete about 60-70 hours of volunteer experience during their first year as a master gardener. Many teachers are able to have their school sponsor their participation in this course (held on Saturdays), then that teacher will implement their knowledge with a gardening program for students within their school.
Beret's passion for the natural world and her commitment to doing her part to keeping up the Earth's health is very inspiring! When Beret's not working, she and her husband make a concerted effort to tread lightly with their resources, biking most places, canning vegetables and fruits from their garden and fixing up their house with salvaged/vintage materials whenever possible.
Name/Occupation: Beret Halverson/Program Coordinator-OSU Extension Community and Urban Horticulture Program.
What does a typical day look like?
Every day is different which is what I love about my job. Some days I am outside working with youth on garden projects. Other days I am in the office writing grants or coordinating outreach and educational events. I also spend time meeting with and teaching classes to school and community groups who need help creating garden landscapes and starting garden nutrition programs.
The term "green living" can be so generic. What does it mean to you?
To me this phrase means learning to be as self reliant as possible and at the same time finding ways to share resources by building a strong community. As a student of environmental science I often felt overwhelmed by the enormity of issues our planet is facing .When I took stock, I realized that gardening was a simple, practical way I could make a difference by teaching self reliance and building community.
What inspires you?
Smiling kids, excited about growing things and being outside. To me this signifies hope for troubled youth who are disillusioned with their education, and hope for all kids who need a tangible, interesting, experience to connect them to the natural world. Researching community gardeners I discovered the majority of those I surveyed learned to garden as children. This taught me how important it is for young people to experience gardens. I am also inspired by moments of simple beauty such as standing on top of a mountain, sipping a delicious, sweet, hot cup of true Indian chai, dirt under my fingernails, a bout of sunshine in the middle of a Portland winter, and biting into the first ripe fig of the season, Yum!
The one thing you can't live without:
Three things, fresh veggies from my garden, Paul my husband, and my crazy, fuzzy Siamese cat, Leroy.
Favorite quote or personal mantra you live by?
Eat lots of vegetables, make your bed every day, and balance. It's all about finding balance.
• Visit the Master Gardening Program: Oregon State University Master Gardener Program
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)