It's official: I am a master gardener. Last week I completed 50 hours of volunteer service and Sue Norman and Valerie Martin bestowed the coveted master gardener's certificate and badge.
Metro Editor Bill Kirby, who made it all possible by working out a deal that allowed me to attend master gardener classes last winter, asked whether I will issue gardening warnings and citations now. The answer is no, but if the water department wanted to deputize me to be a lawn-watering citation writer, I'd gladly volunteer.
As a master gardener, I am expected to help others in the community who have gardening questions and concerns. I don't have a particular volunteer project yet, but master gardeners in the community have donated hundreds, probably more like thousands, of hours creating gardens and special outdoor oases for those who are sick, disabled or in need.
The master gardener program was begun in Tacoma, Wash., in 1972 by county extension agents. The idea was to train volunteers to help answer the public's horticultural questions and needs, according to the Master Gardener Handbook . The first program in Georgia was in 1979, and since then thousands have taken the classes.
Training includes 40 hours of classes about botany, plant physiology, the essence of soil, vegetables, flowers, ornamentals and trees, and lots more.
If you love gardening and can't seem to get enough information, consider becoming a master gardener. You will learn so much, meet like-minded gardening nuts (some of the nicest people you will ever meet), and give back to the community in a way that will make you happy.
As one of my fellow classmates said of the classes, it was the time well spent.
The Richmond County Extension Office will offer the class again in 2011. That might seem a long time away, but it will be here before you know it. There is a selection process that will begin later this year.
Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.