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Penn State Master Gardeners spearhead effort to support health care workers

by Penn State Extension

Apr 15, 2020
Master Gardeners

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Extension Master Gardeners are partnering with commercial greenhouses to provide plants, both edible and ornamental, to medical caregivers and front-line staff whose lives have been upended by the coronavirus crisis.

“Hospital workers are putting in long hours swathed in protective gear, caring for the sick, while trying to remain safe from COVID-19,” said Nancy Knauss, Penn State Extension statewide coordinator of the Master Gardener program. “After completing their shifts, we want them to be able to go home and enjoying the outdoors, unencumbered by masks and gloves, inhaling fresh air and watching the arrival of spring.”

Knauss said the Master Gardener program is asking the public to contribute to the well-being of medical workers by donating to a special fund that will help supply plants to the doctors, nurses and support staff at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey and Penn State Health St. Joseph Medical Center in Reading.

She noted that the goal is to provide a hanging basket or collection of herbs and vegetables, along with a note of appreciation and care instructions, to the 1,500 front-line staff at these facilities.

“Your donation is a ‘thank you’ to these health care workers while simultaneously supporting green-industry businesses that have been impacted economically by the pandemic,” she said.

“If you have taken solace in your own garden over these trying days, now would be the perfect time to assure that our health care workers can find respite at home in the beauty and bounty of spring after devoting their time to us.”

Donations to the fund can be made online at

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