The Southwestern Indiana Master Gardener Association is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and has made giving back to the community a priority since the beginning. As one of the largest master gardener associations in the state, SWIMGA boasts around 400 members and covers Posey, Gibson, Warrick, and Vanderburgh counties.
“Our master gardeners have very diverse knowledge, talents, and interests,” says Tony Buccilli, president of SWIMGA. “We have experts in everything from bees, to flowers, to vegetables, to grass, to pesticides, to trees.”
At the forefront of SWIMGA is education, which includes teaching on a wide range of topics from proper gardening techniques to soil conservation.
“We educate kids from preschool all the way up to high school,” says Rita Wedig, project and garden coordinator for SWIMGA. “But we also educate the community, too.”
The display garden, located on the East Side near the State Hospital, is 1.2 acres of smaller gardens used for educational purposes. Buccilli says last year SWIMGA donated 10,000 pounds of vegetables to the food bank and also volunteered more than 22,000 hours of free labor to the community, which equates to about $520,000.
While SWIMGA has 30 years under its belt, the members still have high hopes for the future. The group will celebrate the anniversary with a party on June 10 open to the public at the Master Gardener Display Garden.
“Not only do we give back in the sense of our labor, but education wise because we are always teaching people,” says Buccilli. “The more we can teach them, the more they learn and the better for the environment.”
For more information about SWIMGA, visit swimga.org