Susan graciously also tried to post it, but technology (or our limited understanding of such things) seems to have its own drawbacks, hence this post. I'm putting it up here, as a bit of rebuttal, in the category of "Response to the Minister of Controversy."
So, first, go there, read the post and the comments, and come back here to finish. Rather anfractuous, I know, but I'm not sure how else to proceed. Here's my comment:
My recommendation to all those out there ragging on volunteers, is to take the plunge and become one – you might learn something, and have a different perspective. And if we're going to question motivations - how about paid garden writers writing reviews of gardening books because they share the same book agent, or publisher?Update: Sunday, March 3. Karen Jeannette of the eXtension Master Gardener blog responds to Susan in the comments section here. And I should correct the misnomer that USDA has jurisdiction over the program, as Susan indicated. As I understand it, each state, under the aegis of its Land Grant University college of Ag Sciences, in the department of consumer horticulture under Extension outreach, has jurisdiction, to varying degrees. The fed's role, and the purpose of eXtension, is as an umbrella resource to bring together and share with the participants, best practices and ideas for fullfilling the outreach mission.
Even a respected (and wonderful regular read for me) garden writer of the caliber of Margaret Roach still recommended putting coarse material like pebbles in the bottom of containers to improve drainage.
The garbage coming from natural organic enthusiasts about compost tea and its magical unicorn benefits is baffling to anyone who also reads the Garden Professors, and I’ve yet to hear natural organic enthusiasts ever acknowledge that “natural” pesticides (or fertilizers for that matter) can be more toxic for people AND the environment than their synthetic counterparts. Master Gardeners are taught, and try to provide to the public the science of integrated pest management, or IPM, not a gardening philosophy of naturalness, in all its Hobbesian savagery, which starts from an unassailable axiom that natural and native is better, regardless of any evidence to the contrary.
And one of the biggest promoters of planting invasive species are the Permaculture enthusiasts as Dr. Chalker-Scott noted discussing the highly praised book Gaia’s Garden. (See here, here, here and here).
And there are plenty of independent nurseries out there still making a profit from selling Butterfly Bush, as well as the Barberries, Japanese Spirea, and Burning Bush. And I’ll note, that the science of invasiveness is hardly settled, nor as black and white as some of the native-only, anti-immigrant fundamentalists would have you believe. I believe even Dr. Gillman and Dr. Chalker-Scott take different positions on the issue, as they’ve shared with the rest of their readers.
And while I share the snicker at Jerry Baker, the lone reference to Biodynamics on The Rant I could find, is hardly dismissive.
Pot, Kettle, folks.
So, I strongly urge you Susan, to try again in the University of Maryland system. Jon Traunfeld is an excellent manager of the program, and I’m sure your experience will be quite different than the DC one you've ranted about several times now.
This site for home vegetable growers, for example, is run and written entirely by its MG volunteers – Growit Eatit, and I doubt you’ll find better information elsewhere, even from people paid to write about the subject.
And read through these posts to see how we go about recruiting folks to give of their time and talents in support of that mission.