Gardening Tips: Master Gardener Class

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Do you look forward to reading this column each week to learn something new about gardening? Do you want to learn even more about gardening, and use your knowledge to not only improve your own garden but to better the community? The Extension Master Gardener program is a training program offered by North Carolina Cooperative Extension that educates the participants on a variety of gardening topics including proper pruning, fertilizing, care of trees and shrubs, how and when to plant, growing fruits and vegetables, composting, plant identification, disease and insect control, and much more. Participants use this knowledge to become better gardeners, and also pass their knowledge and expertise along to others by participating in volunteer projects throughout the county.

The next training session will begin on September 11th, 2014. The class will run for 11 weeks, meeting every Thursday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Halifax County Agricultural Center in Halifax. The class will include lecture, demonstration, video, guest speakers and field trips. Participants will receive a total of 40 hours of training and will be expected to contribute at least 40 hours of volunteer service for the Halifax County Cooperative Extension horticulture program through Master Gardener community service projects.

Halifax County offers this training once each year and is currently accepting applicants for the upcoming class. Gardeners with all levels of experience and knowledge are welcome to apply for the class and will be accepted as space permits. The most important qualification for acceptance into the Master Gardener program is a love of gardening and the willingness to share what you have learned with others.

The cost of the training is $100, which includes the cost of the Master Gardener training manual and other materials used for the class, as well as the cost of field trips taken by the class. For more information or an application for the Master Gardener class, please contact Matthew Stevens at 583-5161 or matt_stevens@ncsu.edu. The deadline for application will be September 3rd, 2014.

Many Master Gardeners who have completed the class and the initial volunteer requirement choose to remain active volunteers and continue to contribute to volunteer projects and training of new Master Gardeners. These active members attend monthly meetings that consist of both a business meeting and an educational program, so the learning process of Master Gardeners continues well past the 40-hour training period. Ongoing Master Gardener projects include youth educational programs with schools and youth groups across Halifax County, maintaining a memorial garden on the grounds of the Halifax County Agricultural Center, and contributions to the landscaping of the Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Center and Eco-Park in Scotland Neck. New projects started this year include participation in the Monarch butterfly planting at the Roanoke Canal Trail and landscaping a Habitat for Humanity home in Roanoke Rapids. While we hope that all Master Gardeners will stay active in the program for many years, only the initial 40 hours of volunteer service are a requirement of the program.