The local Master Gardeners have nearly completed a year-and-a-half long landscaping project in historic Young Cemetery.
Students of the University of Arizona Master Gardener Class held in Young during the spring of 2009 conceived the idea out of a course requirement to do volunteer service hours.
The purposes of the Master Gardener program are to educate others about gardening, to promote gardening in the community and to plan projects that will educate and beautify the community in general.
The Young Cemetery Board had previously expressed a desire to landscape the cemetery and gave the students permission to proceed.
Nothing had been planted in the Young Cemetery for years. In the first phase, the Young Cemetery Board purchased materials for the students to install water lines and freeze-proof hydrants.
The gardeners researched the soil type, hardiness zone, and sought out varieties of trees and shrubs that would need minimal care, yet enhance the beauty of the cemetery.
The board paid for the trees and shrubs that were planted in the spring of 2009 to define the boundaries of the newest section of the cemetery from the Pleasant Valley Historical Society’s land and the Pioneer Section.
Like the pioneers who settled Pleasant Valley, they planted an orchard: four heritage varieties of apple trees alongside four varieties which are touted for their disease-resistance qualities.
The initial success of the first phase led the Master Gardeners to apply for the Arizona State Forester’s Community Challenge Grant in the summer of 2009. To protect the apple orchard from predators, they requested funds to build a perimeter fence.
To educate the public about the community forest, they asked for funds to erect a shade structure which will display signage about the project. The grant also allowed a small percentage for the purchase of more trees.
This program was a 50-50 matching grant in which the gardeners’ volunteer labor and donated labor from contractors counted toward half of the money invested in the project.
Thanks to the support of several entities, Young has a community forest and the groundwork has been laid for teaching others about gardening in the Pleasant Valley area.
Special thanks go to the Gila County Historical Society who facilitated financial aspects of the grant process and to Christopher Jones, our Gila County Cooperative Extension associate. By working together, the landscape of the community can be approved and a legacy left for future generations.
Young’s Master Gardeners have come a long way since those first days of planning. To celebrate the successful completion of this project, the community is invited to join us at 11:30 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 9 in the cemetery for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the kiosk. Those who are interested are welcome to help us host a finger foods luncheon for our out-of-town guests.
Young’s Master Gardeners are: Karen Burke, Lauren Cathcart, Reta Cruse, Betty Farruggia, Linda Gregory, Suzanne LeFevre, Audrey and Jerry Morris, Pam Perling, Jeannie Putnam, Barbara Richards, Ron Wilson and Renee Zeising.