After moving from the California High Desert to North Carolina I joined the County’s Master Garden program to learn more about growing veggies in a completely different environment. Not only did I learn about gardening on the East Coast I met some wonderful people and made new friends. Although, gardening principals are the basically the same, each area has its own advantages and disadvantages, climate issues, as well as various insects, and different plant diseases. My time was definitely well spent and pleasantly rewarded.
My volunteer hours were spent assisting the 4H’ers in planning their vegetable gardens, then going to their homes and judging their garden progress. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing their efforts. Then we taught an outreach class on “Cool Cole Crops” using a Power Point as a teaching aid. The “Herbal Tea Party” at the local Senior Center was a lot of fun, we taught Seniors how plant Herbs, and use them to make healthy teas for their personal use. I had lots of fun, met lots of people, and learned a lot about various aspects of the “Southern Culture” as well as enhanced my gardening abilities.
For those of you who wonder what the “Master Gardener Program” is all about? Well, it was originally a program founded by Washing State University Cooperative Extension in Seattle. Their goal was to educate volunteers to help with the high demand for urban horticulture and gardening advice. The concept was adapted throughout the U.S. states and the Canadian provinces. It is now a nationwide program that the Agriculture Extension Office offers through the State Universities to residents in their local counties. The objective is to teach citizens about gardening in their own back yards.
There is a fee to take the class to become a Master Gardener and then you are required to volunteer so many hours per a year to keep up your Master Gardener Certification. Each state and county seems to require a different amount of volunteer hours. Certificates are transferable from state to state once they are earned.