Ongoing Community Projects

“Back Forty” Research Garden

This project began in 2017 as the class intern project. The three identical raised beds provide a venue to test variables that may affect plant growth. Master gardeners maintain the garden plots and collect data. Upon completion of each experiment, results are recorded and reported. This project is in cooperation with Jobe’s Company, which is furnishing the land and materials.

Coordinator: Dana McMahan

Bell’s Hill Elementary School JMG Club

This is a new program started as an after school program for 4th and 5th grade students. Master Gardener, Debby DeGraff, is using the Learn, Grow, Eat, Go lessons from the Junior Master Gardener Program. The students are propagating seeds and stem cutting in the greenhouse, preparing the outdoor garden for vegetables, and will receive their JMG Certificates after completion of the Journal/Workbook.

Coordinator: Debby DeGraff

Carleen Bright Arboretum Docent Program

The Docent program at the Carleen Bright Arboretum is a great opportunity to host group tours and share knowledge about the Carleen Bright Arboretum. Each scheduled group is met by a Master Gardener/Docent, who has completed a docent training program there. Following a presentation about the Carleen Bright Arboretum, the Docent leads a tour of the gardens.

Project Coordinators: Janet Schaffer and Jeanette Kelly

Cedar Ridge Elementary Green Classroom

The Cedar Ridge Green Classroom was designed and constructed under the leadership of Sandy Katz, MCMG and now retired teacher from Cedar Ridge Elementary School. The garden, started in 2005, is maintained by MCMG volunteers. A Day in the Garden is enjoyed monthly by the children, staff, and volunteers. Each Day in the Garden is structured with 3 learning stations that incorporate hands-on learning in the garden. The over 600 children have a chance to participate several times each year. After the seeds are planted in the fall and spring, the children help to harvest the plants, which are shared with the faculty, students, resident goats and school bunny.

Project Coordinators: Nelda Cooper and  Sandy Katz

Extension Office Shade Garden


Each of the other Master Gardener demonstration gardens focuses on full-sun plantings, but at last a shade garden has been established at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office, where the Master Gardener office is also located. The entrance to the building, at the corner of 6th and Jefferson in Waco, is enhanced by a dramatic, mature live oak tree, which has created deep shade and bare soil beneath it. In order to beautify the entrance and help homeowners make wise choices for shade plantings, a lovely, low-maintenance shade garden has been developed by the 2012 Master Gardener Intern Class. With assistance from certified Master Gardeners, interns designed and installed shade-loving plants with a variety of colors and textures for all-season enjoyment.

Project Coordinators: Cathy Cole and Claudia McLatcher

Gardening on the Brazos

“Gardening on the Brazos” is a gardening club established by a small group of 7-10 residents at Brookdale Retirement Center in Waco. The club meets weekly on Tuesday from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. to discuss their gardening plans. Currently, they have 4 raised beds, with a variety of vegetables and flowers. There are plans to have an additional raised bed built. The McLennan County Master Gardeners provide information and encouragement, as well as assist with some of the physical aspects of planting.

Project Coordinator: Claudia McLatcher

Habitat for Humanity

creating landscapeMCMG volunteers work with Habitat for Humanity to select plants, design and prepare beds, and plant shrubs and annuals appropriate for the new homes they have completed. The new homeowner receives plant care instructions along with a gift from MCMG consisting of a fifty (50′) foot water hose, sprinkler, and either a garden hoe or rake. These gifts are presented to the homeowner at the dedication of their new home.

Project Coordinators: Jeanette Kelly and Sharon Richardson

Lunch With the Masters


Each month one of our certified Texas Master Gardeners or a highly qualified invited guest will present a program designed to be of interest to those who enjoy gardening-related topics. These programs are free of charge to the public. They are held at the Carleen Bright Pavilion, the large building on the north side of the Arboretum. Ample free parking is available. Click to see the current schedule.

Project Coordinator: Janet Schaffer

Mayborn Museum Complex


We host an “Ask a Master Gardener” table and entertain our visitors with a related craft. Most of the time we try to teach about propagation. We have started a partnership in which we physically are caring for the garden area of the Cook’s house, including the both the row garden and the herb garden. To this day, we have cleaned and tilled both. Tentative Dates for 2018: Monday, January 15, Saturday, May 19, Sunday, September 23

Project Coordinators:  Mireille Quintero

McGregor Demonstration Garden


As you enter the town of McGregor, Texas, there is an existing welcome sign and rather large corner lot. Jene Hering, a Master Gardener and long time resident of the city, has long had a vision that this corner could not only be an attractive asset to the city, but a place to showcase Texas hardy plants for the area. The garden now symbolizes the very spirit of our state and demonstrates species of plants that work well for most people in their landscape. The bed shape of a star catches the eye of people passing by the busy intersection. As in most stars, the bed has 5 legs and a large center area. Lower growing plants are placed at the tip of each leg with native grasses in the middle and working into quality varieties of roses in the center. It was important to keep the top leg with low growing plants so as to not block the view of the McGregor sign. A mixture of perennials was used so they will not need to be planted each year. The outside perimeter of the star is composed of pea gravel, which will provide an area where the public can walk right up to the garden to view the plants.

Project Coordinator: Jene Hering

Pollinator Teaching Garden at Miss Nellie’s


The McLennan County Master Gardeners Association (MCMGA) Pollinator Teaching Garden is an open garden in Miss Nellie’s Pretty Place in Cameron Park. MCMGA and Keep Waco Beautiful (KWB) have partnered to create a Pollinator Teaching Garden in one area of the wildflower garden.

The garden was created to accommodate the needs of pollinators in order to contribute to the continuation of their population. Providing an area where they can breed, find food, and multiply for future generations.  It is intended to provide an area whereas, the general public can be taught classification, protection and conservation, life history of pollinators, and their relationship to plants, other animals, and man.  Our hope is to instill an interest and love for nature.

KWB is funding this Pollinator Teaching Garden as part of their renovation of Miss Nellie’s Pretty Place.  In Feb. 2018, MCMGA approved this as an official project.  With the design created by MCMG Sandy Katz, MCMG volunteers have constructed, planted, and maintained this garden. Free educational events and classes about the importance of bees, butterflies, insects, and hummingbirds are the focus of this garden.

Mountainview Elementary School

At Mountainview Elementary School in Waco ISD, about 17 third graders gather after school on Tuesdays with their teacher and fellow Master Gardener Sherry Bagby, who teaches them using the Junior Master Gardener Learn, Grow, Eat, & GO! curriculum.  Their studies focus on healthy eating and vegetable gardening.

Project Coordinator:  Sherry Bagby

Speakers Bureau

The McLennan County Master Gardeners has a group of members who are capable and willing to present programs on gardening and related horticulture topics when requested by garden clubs, civic and other organizations. PowerPoint presentations, lectures and workshops on horticulture subjects are frequently requested of the members.

Download this PDF with subjects our speakers can cover.  To request a speaker, click on this link.

Project Coordinator: Nelda Cooper, 254-749-4499

Texas Superstar Garden at the Carleen Bright Arboretum

Texas Superstars are tough, reliable, and showy plants, which have undergone years of extensive testing by Texas A&M University’s Agriculture Program. So that local homeowners can see how these strong and stunning plants will grow in the Waco area, McLennan County Master Gardeners designed, developed, and maintain a Texas Superstar demonstration garden at the Carleen Bright Arboretum in Woodway. Developed in 2005, the garden continues to evolve, inviting visitors to stroll through, linger, and gather ideas for their own gardens.

Project Coordinator: Penny Gifford

Texas Water Star Project

ParticipantsThese Demonstration gardens are located on the campus of T.S.T.C. at 3801 Campus Drive. They are a result of a partnership between Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – McLennan County, McLennan County Master Gardeners, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Specialist and TSTC.

The objective of these gardens is to demonstrate different landscape design styles with their respective plant material palette and landscape water use, and potential water savings from deficit irrigation.

Project Coordinators: Louie McDaniel

Tennyson Middle School (Atlas Program)

Tennyson Middle School offers a gardening class to sixth grade Atlas students (Advanced Placement). The course has 3 tiers: basic gardening provided through the Learn, Grow, and Go Curriculum; advanced gardening skills and cooking the produce that is harvested; and a collaborative science/business program for marketing and selling the produce (entrepreneurship). The students meet daily for an hour from noon to one p.m. McLennan County Master Gardeners provide assistance in the classroom to the science teacher who is teaching the Learn, Grow, Eat and Go Curriculum.

Project Coordinator:  Sherry Prather

Trailside Gardens


The newest and largest garden addition to the Carleen Bright Arboretum in Woodway is Trailside Gardens, developed by McLennan County Master Gardeners. MCMG member Anita Dawson and her husband, Jerry, made a significant financial contribution in memory of their fathers, James C. Webster and Aubrey T. Dawson, allowing development of the gardens to begin. To honor these gentlemen and the plants they loved, plantings include EarthKind roses and other water-wise and native plants.

Landscape architect Bernard Ott, who designed the original Arboretum Master Plan, came up with a schematic outline for the Trailside Gardens. MCMG members Jean Cunningham and Rachelle Kemp designed a planting plan. Other contributions have come from the MCMG budget and private donations. Featuring a native-stone fountain, shade, and fragrance, Trailside Gardens show Arboretum visitors how beautiful an easy-care, environmentally-friendly landscape can be.

Project Coordinator: Penny Gifford

H.O.T. Urban Gardening Coalition

Heart of Texas Urban Gardening Coalition was organized to encourage cooperation between different groups in the area, including Master Gardeners, interested in gardening and to encourage sustainable community development through gardening. UGC supports gardening projects at schools, churches and homes and is closely involved with the Waco Downtown Farmers Market. The coalition works to strengthen the local food system, improve access to healthy food, and encourage people to grow their own.

Project Liaison:  Rianna Alvarado-Palmer

Vet One Stop

The Veterans One-Stop Center “Where Veterans Come First” is designed to serve veterans and their families while at the same time providing access to a variety of community resources.

The purpose of the Veterans One-Stop Center is to provide assistance, referral, education and information to our veterans as well as their families.

The initial program will focus on vegetables, fruits, and herbs.  This program will  provide horticultural education to veterans and their families while providing a means of stress reduction and low-impact exercise.  Participants will learn to grow food from seed and transplants.  They will participant in pruning, training plants to trellises, and harvesting. Food items grown in the garden will be used in cooking demonstrations with participants in hopes of exposing them to new foods and improving their diets.

Project Coordinator:  Della Setser

Waco Downtown Farmers Market

The Waco Downtown Farmers Market opened in Nov. 2011. The McLennan County Master Gardeners were invited to participate and had their first Education Tent in January 2012. The Master Gardeners now host a tent each second Saturday of the month from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. There is a variety of horticulture handouts, free “seed of the month” handout, educational demonstrations, occasional children’s activity, and Ask A Master Gardener to answer your gardening concerns.

Project Coordinators: Penny Gifford,  Rianna Alvarado-Palmer, Jeanette Kelly, John Sponenberg

Woodway Elementary Green Classroom


What began as a commitment to beautify the school’s entrance has grown into a project that uses thirty-five raised bed gardens to teach elementary school students the science of gardening while having fun. Utilizing LGEG (Learn, Grow, Eat, Go) curriculum allows the children to have fun and learn what a plant needs in order to grow. At the beginning of each semester the children plant vegetables that will be harvested by the end of the semester. During and between those times, fun LGEG activities occur that support a focused learning topic and engage the children in gardening. And of course, the kids take home a bag of veggies they have grown to share with their family at the end of the semester!

Project Coordinators: Mickey Page, Ann Sefcik, Dolores Guest

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