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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Classes start next month at Green Spring for Master Gardener program

Green Spring Gardens

Do you want to become an expert gardener and educate the public about environmentally sound horticultural practices? The Master Gardener program might be for you.

A training course at Green Spring Gardens starts Sept. 9. The application deadline has been extended to Aug. 22. Applicants also need to pass an interview process to be accepted into the program.

“You don’t necessarily have to have gardening experience. But you do have to have a true willingness to learn and to educate the public about what you’ve learned,” says Pamela Smith, community horticulture program coordinator with the Fairfax County Park Authority.

Master Gardeners are expected to give presentations at public meetings and public school classrooms, staff information booths at community events, create displays at libraries, and teach classes and conduct tours at Green Spring Gardens.  

Those accepted into the training program attend a 12-week training session, with classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1-4 p.m. Another training series in the evening might be scheduled, as well, if there is enough interest. Contact Pamela Smith, 703-642-0128, if you’d prefer evening sessions.

The classes are taught by experts on these topics: botany, etymology, pesticides, plant pathology, turf, water quality, pruning, landscape design, wildlife, invasive and native plants, perennials, annuals, and trees and shrubs. The sessions also cover use of the volunteer management system, how best to convey information to the public, and civil rights issues to ensure master gardeners reach out to diverse populations.

The fee for the program is $250. To earn the certification as a Master Gardener, participants have to put in 50 hours of volunteer service with approved projects plus 12 volunteer hours answering questions from the public at the Fairfax County office of the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE).

The Fairfax County Master Gardener program is sponsored by the county and overseen by VCE.

There’s also a different Master Gardener program operated as a nonprofit with a three-year training program. People working on that certification serve as interns and host plant clinics at farmers markets and libraries. That program, also overseen by the VCE, has training classes at Merrifield Gardens in Fairfax. That program is closed through the end of 2014. People interested in starting classes in 2015 need to sign up by Sept. 8.

1 comment:

  1. A plus for this program is the participants have to do public service by hosting a booth and providing free advice to the rest of us with less-than-green thumbs. I got some good tips from some qualifying Master Gardeners at Greenspring one weekend., Good stuff!