N.C. State Cooperative Extension, Stokes County Center agent, Bryan Hartman, performed a non-formal educational and horticultural demonstration for just one person. He traveled to my home to assess the health of three poorly developing fruit trees. After several hours of discussing nectarines and apples, pears, and a large field of blueberry bushes, I couldn’t help but ask, “What is your title?” Getting excited over the arrival of seed catalogs and being thrilled to talk with another individual who is a plant-lover, I found meeting a master gardener to be indeed an extraordinary pleasure. With wide eyes, I learned many counties throughout the state schedule yearly classes for anyone seeking consumer horticulture knowledge and the opportunity to become a certified volunteer. Feeling elated, I asked, “How do I register?”
Immediately, a gardener questions, “Do I know enough? Would I be eligible to sign-up?” The Extension Master Gardener Program is open to anyone who has a passion for all plant life. Topics include introductory botany, soils, plant nutrition, growing vegetables year-round, small fruits, trees, shrubs, the purpose of fertilizers, plant diseases, classes of insects, and defining a weed.
Anyone can register to attend classes whether they live inside or outside the county. Consider the opportunity at N.C. State Cooperative Extension office in Danbury. In-person classes will occur on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting October 19th from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., ending on November 18th.
- Participants can expect two hours of classroom instruction followed by a three- hour hands-on demonstration and application, or a group field trip.
- A fee of $150 covers a handbook, supplies, and course excursions.
Join the Group
Of course, it’s not just the title we covet. Upon completion of the course, men and women are given the opportunity to become an “Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.” In addition to forming new friendships, attending monthly meetings, and receiving educational hours, master gardeners assist in planning public workshops, events, and beautify gardens, benefiting the community.
Words from Master Gardening Volunteers
“As a retiree and new to Stokes, I saw the Master Gardener program as a way to learn about the area and meet people in the county,” writes Joan Barnes. “Being a member gives me opportunities to learn about gardening from new experiences, Extension programs, and conversations with others who are more knowledgeable than I am. After four years, I most enjoy visiting gardens, farms, and businesses and trying new gardening ideas with the other members on a shared goal!”
“Gardening was always a favorite activity, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought,” expresses Alice Kiger. “I needed to learn more, and the class was ideal for me. There were times in class the proverbial light bulb turned on, and I learned proper techniques. Each year, I build on the previous year’s education, which brings more success. I have a grand feeling of accomplishment and enjoy sharing with like-minded friends. As my flower beds fill in with more plants year after year, it is hard to remember the days when they didn’t exist!”
Each individual joins for different reasons; so, whether you are new to gardening or want to increase your knowledge, consider registering for the upcoming Extension Master Gardening course! It’s an opportunity well worth the investment of time! “I joined the group because my cousin was involved, and I loved her enthusiasm for gardening,” writes Martha Hauser. “I fell in love with landscaping, preferring natural habitats to draw in pollinators. I have learned a great deal about the purpose of planting specific bulbs and annuals. One added plus to the annual membership is great friendships among the members, even in other counties. We have common goals and enjoy working together. So, come and join us!”
Contact your local N.C. State Cooperative Extension office, https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/local-county-center/, to learn more about classes, groups, or ask questions.