Question: I’m interested in the Master Gardener Program, but have difficulty taking care of my own gardens, let alone another garden. Would the Master Gardener program apply to me?
Answer: There is a perception that the primary role of Master Gardeners is to maintain gardens for the public. But, that’s not the case. As part of the Purdue University Extension Service, our mission is to educate the public on horticulture. We are here to “Help Others Grow”. If you really enjoy gardens and learning, then this program is for you!
The Master Gardener Program encompasses a training program in which you learn about gardening through a series of classes. The knowledge gained is then passed on to others through several means. If you have ever visited the Indiana State Fair or the Indianapolis Flower and Patio show, you’ll see a Purdue Master Gardener booth where MG volunteers answer gardening questions for visitors. We do that as well at our annual Flower and Patio Show and county fair. Within the past year, we have increased activities that involve children. This year we are excited to sponsor a Gardening Spark Club for youth where we teach them about growing flowers and vegetables. Members sometimes give presentations on a variety of topics and we are actively planning a garden walk for the summer of 2018. These activities don’t require you to physically maintain a garden.
But, if you are a hands-on gardener, that opportunity is available as well. We have created several gardens primarily for educational reasons. For example, a native plant medicinal garden was constructed at the fairgrounds and it shows visitors the different types of native plants used for healing in the days of the early settlers. There is also a Four Seasons garden at the fairgrounds with labeled plants to demonstrate plant varieties to enjoy in each of the different seasons. Our donation vegetable garden was built to demonstrate different varieties of vegetables and various methods for growing them. It has also served as a source of fresh produce for local food pantries.
We raise funds through an annual Flower and Patio show and are proud to say that we have provided several scholarships to high school students to further their studies in agriculture or horticulture related fields.
Our next training class begins on Jan 11 and will meet for 13 sessions on Thursdays from 6 – 9 pm at the Greene County Community Event Center. The training will include topics such as herbaceous and woody ornamentals, vegetable gardening, soils and nutrition, lawn care, insect identification, disease management and more. The majority of the classes will be taught by Purdue professionals. There is no tuition fee for the class, only a materials charge. The Master Gardener Association is helping to offset the material cost and the Extension is offering the class this year at the low rate of $50 per person or $75 for a couple who share materials. Upon successful completion of the course, you’ll be considered a Master Gardener Intern. Volunteers will become full Master Gardeners after having completed 35 volunteer hours over a two year period.
If you think this program is for you, contact Sadie Davis, Greene County AG & Natural Resources Extension Educator at 812 659-2122 and request an application. The registration deadline has been extended to Dec 20.
This question was answered by Lila Massa, Greene County Master gardener. Send your garden-related questions directly to the Master Gardeners. Email your question to GardenQuestions45@gmail.com or send by mail to Ask a Greene Gardener c/o Greene County Extension, 4513 SR 54, Bloomfield, IN 47424