- Author: Kathy Low
A year ago I was sitting at home looking through the community calendar in the local monthly penny saver when I saw the application deadline for the Solano Master Gardener program. Curious about the program, I went to the website to read more about it which sounded interesting. Not considering myself to be a “real” gardener, since my experience was limited to annually growing a summer vegetable garden, it looked like a great opportunity to learn more about gardening. I never took a horticulture class, or even took the time to read any gardening books, but I decided it wouldn’t hurt to fill out the application for the program. I never imagined a year later I would be writing this blog post as a Master Gardener.
The initial knowledge, background, and experiences of individuals in each new class of Master Gardeners is different. We each journey through the program for different reasons. But upon graduation, we share a common knowledge, and a common goal of providing research based home horticulture information to the community.
Are you a potential future Master Gardener? Can you answer “yes” to any of these questions?
- Do you like gardening?
- Do you like helping others?
- Do you like learning new things?
- Do you like growing your own fruits and vegetables with little or no use of pesticides?
- Do you care about sustaining the land and the environment?
- Do you enjoy the company of like minded people?
- Are you interested in helping your community?
- Are you looking for a fun, meaningful volunteer opportunity?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then consider applying for the 2014 Master Gardener class. There’s still time to apply before the October 31st deadline.
The benefits of being a Master Gardener are numerous. First, you’ll receive 16 weeks of horticultural education covering topics ranging from turf and landscape trees to weeds, water management, and entomology. The classes are taught by University of California and other local faculty, providing you with first class instruction. You’ll receive a copy of the 700 page California Master Gardener Handbook and a copy of the book Pests of Landscape Trees and Shrubs. On an ongoing basis you’ll receive information about upcoming horticulture related talks, workshops, webinars and other opportunities to expand your knowledge. And you’ll have access to UC research on horticultural topics of interest to home gardeners.
The Master Gardener program is a volunteer program so as a Master Gardener, you are required to provide a minimum number of approved volunteer hours in the community on an annual basis. But until I became a Master Gardener, I had no idea of the scope of the volunteer opportunities available. They are bountiful and the best part is you have the opportunity to choose only those that interest you. For example volunteer opportunities include providing gardening information to school children at special events, or working with children during library events presented by Master Gardeners, answering gardening questions at local farmers markets, providing training on composting, presenting a gardening talk at the library or other venue, helping maintain the Children’s Memorial garden, gardening with juvenile detainees at the New Foundations Juvenile Hall garden, or writing for the blog or newsletter. These are just some of the many community volunteer opportunities available to you as a Master Gardener.
If you’re interested in joining the camaraderie of over 100 Master Gardeners in Solano County, be sure to submit your application for the class of 2014 before the October 31st deadline. The application is accessible at http://cesolano.ucanr.edu.
If you have any questions about the application process or program, contact the Program Coordinator Jennifer Baumbach at (707) 784-1321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Author: Mary B. Gabbard
On Friday, May 11, The Master Gardener Volunteer Program of Solano County graduated its’ 2012 class of Master Gardeners. The setting was apropos, the beautiful gardens at the Buck Mansion. The atmosphere was filled with an air of both relief and excitement as graduation marks the completion of their 5-month training program combined with their eagerness to blossom into the beginning of their career as Master Gardeners. These newly Certified Master Gardeners are geared to head out into their respective communities and extend horticultural information based on research-based information, verified by UC experts. Every year, I look forward to this day and make every effort to clear my schedule to attend; however, my intentions are a bit selfish. To be truthful, my favorite part of the day is catching up with my classmates from 2002 as well as fellow gardeners I have volunteered with over the years. I really can’t say enough about this wonderful group of people and hearing about how they have branched out and developed their expertise in gardening. None of this would be possible without our Program Director who provides the stable base from where the program grows, Jennifer Baumbach. She’s the roots and the trunk that holds everything together. If you find yourself thinking about becoming a Master Gardener, visit the Master Gardener booth at your local Farmer’s Market. Talk to us; find out what’s involved…this may be the group for you!