Cass County Master Gardener, Todd Turner, was honored by the Iowa Master Gardener Program as an Outstanding Master Gardener for the 2020 Year. Todd was one of 15 honorees statewide this year. This award is given to Master Gardeners who have invested more than 400 hours of volunteer time in a year.

The Cass County Master Gardener group has members in many surrounding counties and Todd spent the majority of his volunteer hours working on food donation gardening and local food distribution events. He helped expand the LiveWell Montgomery County Giving Garden, and facilitated donations to 4 food pantries in Red Oak and 1 food pantry in Elliott. In addition to his home garden which is 7500 sq. ft., and the Giving Garden, he also helps with a produce garden at the Montgomery County Memorial Hospital. Excess produce from Todd’s garden was also donated to the Grow Another Row project and other pantries in Cass County. These donations amounted to 2500 lbs. of fresh produce in 2020. In addition to growing many varieties of vegetables, Todd also enjoys growing unusual varieties, often bringing them to meetings to quiz the members on what he has brought.

Todd is not the only Cass County Master Gardener to be honored by the state program in recent years. In 2016 LaVon Eblen was also recognized as an Outstanding Master Gardener for investing over 400 volunteer hours in the Master Gardener program for the year. In 2019 LaVon was also recognized for over 1000 total hours volunteered as a Master Gardener in Cass County with the Lifetime Service Award.

In total, during the 2020 growing year, Cass County Master Gardeners volunteered over 1,000 hours of service. The Master Gardener Program, offered statewide by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, trains volunteers to develop their knowledge and skills in horticulture. These volunteers then give back to their communities through gardening service and education. The goal of the Master Gardener program is to support horticulture education and community service. Local Master Gardeners provide many hours of volunteer service and gardening education within their local communities, including demonstration gardens, horticultural education, community grants and scholarship programs, and resources for problem solving in the garden. Education courses are available throughout Iowa on a regular basis. Applications for the Fall 2021 Program will open on March 1. For more information on the program, contact Cass County Extension Director Kate Olson, at 712-243-1132 or

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