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Cannon: Become a master gardener

POSTED: September 6, 2013 1:30 a.m.

As fall approaches, the area extension office will send out applications to people interested in becoming master gardeners in 2014.

This is an exciting time for the extension office, because we will add another fine group of gardeners to the growing volunteer organization that encompasses about 150 enthusiastic gardeners.

Hall County Master Gardeners share their talents, knowledge and creativity through support and education. Their mission is to "educate the public on gardening techniques and knowledge." The motto is "Beautification through Education."

To become a member, one must apply with the extension office. Applications will be mailed out in mid-September and classes will start in early January and run through March 2014.

Once accepted, the master gardener volunteer intern receives more than 40 hours of University of Georgia college curriculum, instructional classes taught by county agents and horticulture specialists. Classes are from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday.

The 24 classes range from topics including basic botany to native plant gardening and pest and disease management. Classes help equip the student to assist with gardening questions when the need arises in the community.

When classes are completed, the master gardener intern is required to volunteer a minimum of 50 hours the first year and 25 hours each year afterward to remain active in their master gardener certification.

A master gardener is first and foremost a volunteer. Whether it is digging in the dirt, teaching children’s gardening classes or speaking at a library or symposium, the volunteer opportunities promote gardening education in the community.

Master Gardeners are also involved in three community gardens: Gardens on Green, Wilshire Park and the Northeast Georgia History Center Victory Garden. Many volunteer at Smithgall Woodland Gardens and help with the native plant preserve called Linwood Preserve.

They also work with Habitat for Humanity and the Elachee Nature Science Center. Many work with youth in Junior Master Gardening programs. Master Gardener speakers speak at the Lunch and Learn series at area libraries.

Once an intern becomes a master gardener, many projects and events are available to plug into and become involved.

Hall County Master Gardener Extension volunteers have been the No. 1 master gardening group in Georgia for the past three years, totaling more than 17,000 volunteer hours in 2012. Their support of the county extension office through phone support on garden-related topics and maintenance is a vital resource to our office.

The Hall County Master Gardeners are also involved in the sponsoring of the popular Spring and Fall Plant Expos. The events draw a huge gathering of plant lovers from across the area with more than 50 nursery and garden vendors participating in each one. The Fall Expo will be Friday, Sept. 20, and Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Chicopee Woods Ag Center in Gainesville.

For more information about the upcoming 2014 Master Gardener classes and Fall Plant Expo, call the Hall County Extension office at 770-535-8293.

If you are interested in becoming a master gardener, contact me at wcannon@hallcounty.org or 770-535-8293, or visit hcmgs.com for more information about the program.

Wanda Cannon serves as master gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. Contact her at 770-535-8293, www.hallcounty.org/extension. Her column appears biweekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.


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