Q: What is a Master Gardener?
A: I'm guessing most people think a 'Master Gardener' is all about flowers and maybe Greene County's annual Flower and Patio Show. That is somewhat true, but an incomplete picture. A little history... in 1972 in Washington State an educational program was developed in response to a great demand for home gardening information. This program was designed for volunteers to learn about the art and science of gardening and to use that learning to provide information and technical assistance to their home communities.
Since that time, Master Gardener Programs have been established in all 50 states. Indiana's program started in 1978 and like the other states, Indiana's Master Gardener Program is coordinated by a land grant university (Purdue) through local cooperative extension services. Indiana currently has over 3,200 active Master Gardeners that provide more than 88,000 volunteer hours. The Purdue Master Gardener Program trains more than 1000 new Master Gardeners per year.
The purpose of Purdue's program, as in other states, is to teach volunteers about growing plants and to have that knowledge effectively extended into the community. Toward this end, Purdue has developed a 13-class curriculum that covers topics as diverse as plant types, plant disease, soil health, bugs, plant growth requirements, sustainable gardening, wildlife management and integrated pest management. The instruction of these classes is provided for free. However, there is a cost for educational materials.
After successfully completing these classes the volunteers may become Master Gardeners by participating in the educational outreach programs. Volunteer opportunities include:
* Presenting educational programs
* Working with youth (4-H, schools, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts)
* Q & A Booths
* Habitat for Humanity
* Community and Demonstration Gardens
* Community Beautification
The Greene County Master Gardeners are currently working on a Native Plant Medicinal Garden and a Demonstration Vegetable Garden at the 4-H fairgrounds.
The Greene County Extension Office is planning Master Gardener training classes in January 2016. If interested, please contact Sadie Davis at 812-659-2122 or online go to www.hort.purdue.edu/mg.
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This month's question was answered by David B. Hughes, Vice-President, Greene County Master Gardeners.
This is the first in a series of question-and-answer columns from the Greene County Master Gardeners. Send your garden-related questions directly to the Master Gardeners for consideration to be answered here each month. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or send them by mail to "Ask a Greene Gardener," c/o Greene County Extension, 4513 W St Rd 54, Bloomfield IN 47424.