Look deep into Monica Laflamme’s personal story and you’ll find a creative, involved woman of action. This retired U.S. Air Force officer traveled around the world for 24 years before landing in Franconia and becoming a Master Gardener (MG) in 2017. Grafton County is better for it, because she has worked and connected with numerous people and organizations in the North Country.
“I take on opportunities as they present themselves,” she says, regarding projects, continuing education and teaching opportunities. “Some are for a day; some I’ve worked on multiple times over the last four years and some are only consultation.” She cites a recent example this summer. Monica helped the Bethlehem Elementary School develop a butterfly and perennial garden. She provided school personnel with fact sheets on different types of plants and gave a variety of perennial plants and seeds for the kids to plant.
She also spent the summer as the MG in charge of answering customers’ questions at Littleton Farmers Market. “I’ve worked in this program four years, but this is the first time I’ve headed it.”
Monica is also co-chair of the Grafton County Master Gardener Association (GCMGA) with Evelyn Hagan. She says their group takes tours of other member’s home gardens and visit other gardens in the northern N.H. area. At their twice-a-year meetings, they collaborate, share information and education.
The “most important and rewarding project I’ve worked on” in four years is the Mount Sacred Heart Convent Gardens in Littleton. The produce grown there is not only important for the nourishment of convent nuns, but also shared weekly with “food insecure individuals” at two food pantries: Good Neighbor Food Pantry in Franconia and All Saints’ Episcopal Church Food Pantry in Littleton.
Monica, who has a Master of Science degree in Management from Alabama’s Troy State University, says she is “a life-long learner.” In addition to taking multiple classes from Great Courses, the mother of two grown children gives her time to the Franconia Planning Board. She has helped in the town’s elections since 2014 and was elected “Supervisor of the Checklist” in 2020. Active in St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, she taught 8th grade Sunday school and is currently the 7th/8th grade youth group coordinator.
Before she moved to the state nine years ago, she had no interest in gardening, but after retiring she decided to start a vegetable plot. Monica found herself “floundering around my amateur home garden,” and decided to take the MG course because of her “desire to be a better gardener.” Gardening became “a hobby that I loved and had success with,” she says. “From the moment I started the MG program, gardening became my passion.” Sharing that passion with the community is one of the things that makes Master Gardeners a valuable resource and Monica certainly fills that role.