If you’re looking for opportunities for furthering your horticultural knowledge while connecting with other gardeners in your region, consider becoming a Master Gardener! The nationwide program, which is offered through county extensions of agriculture-focused universities, like Cornell University in NY, Penn State in Pennsylvania, or Rutgers University in New Jersey, is an intensive horticultural classroom training paired with a community outreach element. Master gardener trainees come in all ages and ability levels, but share a basic interest in gardening, and enthusiasm for learning and sharing their new found knowledge and skills with others in their community. Topics covered in the 15 week training include botany, food gardens, insect and disease identification and troubleshooting, soil science and composting, natural habitat creation, and water conservation to name a few. Upon completion of the training, each participant is expected to commit to volunteering a set number of hours on a project of their choice, which could mean giving lectures, staffing the horticulture hotline at their county extension office, volunteering on community garden projects or organizing plant sales. Each county’s program is unique in its volunteer opportunities and training topics, but all strive to turn out a troupe of individuals who are trained in the art and science of gardening and dedicated to community involvement. To find out about Master Gardener Trainings in your area, contact your county’s agricultural university extension office soon, as registration for many start this winter. Here are links to the tri-state area’s pages:
FYI, I’ll be teaching 2 modules of the upcoming Sullivan County NY MG training, which starts in February,on March 6 2014: Vegetable Gardening, and Organic Gardening.