The purpose of Master Gardener programs nationwide is to multiply the efforts of Extension agents to get horticultural information to the public. Haywood County Master Gardeners volunteer over 4,000 hours each year, in activities like:
— Organizing the biennial Haywood County Garden Tour.
— Tutoring elementary school kids in gardening programs.
— Answering questions at the Extension Center plant clinic.
— Assisting at the Haywood County Fair.
— Working with community gardens to grow produce for local charity kitchens.
— Conducting holiday wreath-making workshops.
— Writing newspaper articles.
— Giving presentations to local organizations.
These folks have a wide range of gardening interests. Many grow vegetables and flowers as a hobby. Several are in horticulture-related businesses. Others have different specialties.
Retirees, people with young families, and married couples are all represented, as are Haywood County natives and transplants from around the country.
Some people join the program after moving to the area to learn what grows best here. Others want to improve some aspect of their horticultural knowledge.Perhaps they like working with kids. All of us enjoy sharing gardening experiences with others.
To become a Master Gardener, you must complete a training program that runs from January to April (one three-hour class each week.)
Extension agents, local experts, and seasoned Master Gardeners are the instructors. The course emphasizes where to find research-based information rather than just memorizing answers to questions.
Topics include lawns; ornamental trees and shrubs; insect, disease, and weed management; soils and fertilizers; vegetable gardening; plant propagation; home fruit production; flowering plants; composting; and landscape design principles.
In exchange for this training participants agree to volunteer a minimum of 40 hours the first year (20 hours in subsequent years to remain active in the program).
Does this sound interesting to you? If so, call the Haywood County Extension Office at 828-456-3269 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for an application form. All qualified applicants will be interviewed by phone. Invitations to join the program will be issued in December.
Jim Janke is a Master Gardener volunteer in Haywood County.