Interview with board member Diane Daignault
Newsletter (NL) How long have you been gardening?
Diane Daignault (DD) When I was a young child I remember picking peas in the garden with my mother and father. I should say I remember sitting in the pea patch eating the peas. My parents had two very large gardens when I was growing up. One was dedicated for potatoes only and I recall helping my father plant and harvest the potatoes. We had enough potatoes to sustain us for the whole winter, there were a lot of potatoes! I can still recall the smell of the earthiness and the feel of the soil and how much I enjoyed digging in the soil and being in the garden with my parents.
NL: What kind of a garden/s do you have?
DD: I have a small vegetable garden compared to the ones my parents had. I like to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, but no peas or potatoes. I also have various flower beds in the front and back yard which are filled with perennial plants. I also like to plant a few large planters with some annuals. A couple of years ago I convinced my husband that the grass in our back yard had to go! Having done so, we created a pollinator garden which is filled with an assortment of native plants.
NL: What are the things that give you most pleasure in your garden/s?
DD: I love the feeling of being in my gardens in the summer and seeing everything in its full glory. It’s my happy place! I am in a different “zone” when I am out there puttering around for hours. There is something about the smell of the earthiness that takes me back to my childhood. I love to see things come to life in the spring and watch for the first bloom. I love the autumn and seeing the last of the blooms, but it is bittersweet, as it will be a long winter before I can get back out into the gardens.
NL: Why and when did you decide to become a Master Gardener?
DD: I was volunteering at Assiniboine Park when I met a very distinguished group of Master Gardeners. These ladies inspired me to learn more about gardening. They told me about the MMGA and the training program and the rest is history. I joined the association in 2016 and certified in 2019.
NL: What motivates you to serve on the board as volunteering director and what are the challenges of this position?
DD: My motivation came from my mentor Laverne Dahlin who held the position prior to my coming to the board. I recognized the great things she was doing for the association in her role and wanted to be a part of the team. In 2020 I joined the board as Member at Large and assisted on the Volunteer Committee as VI Administrator. In 2022 I took on the position of Director of Volunteers.
There are two challenges; one is keeping members motivated to volunteer. As gardeners we have a very short gardening season and when that season is upon us, we are all so crazy busy in our own gardens and with life overall. The summer is a busy time and the reality is this is when a good portion of our volunteer opportunities occur. The second challenge is for all of us to find that extra time to volunteer.
NL: Is there anything you would like our members to know that would make your life as volunteering director easier?
DD: We receive many requests for presenters and some of these requests go unanswered. Giving a presentation via zoom or in person can feel scary. A good way to build confidence is to give a presentation to a smaller audience to start, such as a study group. If you belong to a study group, make your presentation to them. You will receive valuable feedback from the group and at the same time build up your confidence. If you don’t belong to a group, arrangements can be made for you to make a presentation to one of the groups.
NL: Which volunteer commitments/projects would you recommend to new Master Gardeners/Interns?
DD: That’s a question I cannot answer. The reason being, each person is unique and they need to find what works best for them when it comes to volunteer opportunities. We have many different activities, projects and committees, try several different ones and find the one(s) that work for you.
NL: Is there anything in particular that you wish the MMGA as an organization would accomplish in the future?
DD: I would like to see the MMGA create a volunteer reward and recognition program.
NL: We all have role models and people who inspire us. Who are the gardeners that truly inspire/d you?
DD: My mother and father ❤️
Photos by: Diane Daignault
Published: January 2023