What is a Master Gardener?
The short answer is someone who has completed the Extension Office’s Master Gardener program.
The slightly longer answer is someone who is knowledgeable about local gardening, someone who gives his or her time through community service projects, someone who enjoys working with the land and learning the best ways to care for it and what we put in it, and someone who wants to share his or her knowledge and passion with others.
Whether you’ve always had a knack for gardening or you’re looking for a place that combines a love for the outdoors with community service, the Master Gardener program offers a wealth of gardening knowledge, dispersed through two months of twice-a-week classes.
Beginning Sept. 1 through Nov. 10, the Master Gardener class will meet 9 a.m.-noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Extension Office, 420 10th St.
The program, which going forward will be offered once every two years, has been led by city extension agent Jennifer Davidson since 2007.
Bobby Benson, who has signed up for the fall classes said, “(Gardening) is something I just always enjoyed as a hobby, being outside.”
Having retired from Synovus in February and with his daughters out of school, he’s excited to get more involved in one of his long-time hobbies.
“I just heard of the Master Gardeners program somewhere years back and I thought, ‘That would be something fun to do one day if I can ever get to a point that I could do it,’” he said.
In addition to the in-class time and passing tests, a Master Gardener has to donate a certain amount of time to maintain the title. A Master Gardener’s volunteerism can take many forms, including community garden projects; working with Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center, Trees Columbus or other local nonprofit environmental organizations; providing educational program to small groups and garden clubs; or working at the Extension Office, among other options.
Davidson said much of the learning they’ll do is “in the field” and they’ll cover a different topic each day of instruction.
Over the past four years, Davidson said she’s trained approximately 80 Master Gardeners with about 60 currently active members, including Becky Bassett who took the course in the fall of 2009.
Bassett said what she enjoyed the most about the course was the learning how to figure out solutions to gardening problems and having access to the Extension Office’s extensive resources.
“I felt very empowered after taking the course,” she added.
Davidson said the course is a bargain for the buck, estimating that the information gleaned over the 10 weeks is worth over $1,000.
“It is a commitment,” she said, also noting the 50 hours of community service required during the first year. “But it’s a fun commitment.”