You are just in time! Currently, the University of Georgia Fulton County Cooperative Extension is taking applications for the next Master Gardener class beginning in January 2014. The Georgia Master Gardener Program trains volunteers to work alongside Cooperative Extension agents to help them teach the local community better horticultural practices. The program was established over 40 years ago by the Washington State University Cooperative Extension agents. The Georgia Master Gardener Program began in 1979.
The deadline for this year’s applicants is Oct. 1. A nominal registration fee covers instruction, supplies and textbooks. In addition to committing to undergoing an intensive training program, prospective Master Gardeners also commit to volunteering a minimum of 50 hours during their first year.
Once accepted, gardeners will receive more than 40 hours of classroom instruction in basic botany, soils and plant nutrition, plant physiology, vegetable gardening and more. Classes are taught by UGA Cooperative Extension agents and specialists, local horticulturists, and veteran Master Gardeners.
After completing the classroom program, Master Gardeners begin their volunteer gardening internship period. Twenty-five of the 50 hours are spent in the Extension Office where they assist local residents by phone with their landscape questions. Remaining hours are spent working on designated projects throughout the community. These opportunities may include drafting articles, planning events, teaching classes, hands-on demonstrations and educational display gardens. Upon completion of the program, participants officially become Georgia Master Gardeners. To remain active, Georgia Master Gardeners must volunteer a minimum of 25 hours of service each year thereafter.
The UGA Fulton County Cooperative Extension sponsors many projects in the area where Master Gardeners connect with their community. This year, the Riverside Farmers’ Market in Roswell included a booth staffed by Master Gardeners who answered patrons’ questions and helped vendors. In addition, Master Gardeners will teach a series of classes this fall in Roswell and Alpharetta. Topics will include “Fall in Georgia – the Best Time to Plant Trees and Shrubs” (Oct. 8 and 9) and “Growing Fruit in Georgia” (Oct. 22 and 23). Watch for announcements of classes in Sandy Springs, too.
For a Master Gardener application or more details about these and other opportunities and instructions contact the North Fulton Extension office at (404) 613-7670, or check online at www.caes.uga.edu/extension/fulton/anr or www.nfmg.net.
Leaf Tip of the Week: To meet people who share your passion for horticulture, become a Master Gardener. Apply today!
Garden and lawn advice is provided by Rolando Orellana, your UGA/ Fulton County Cooperative Extension Agent. For your specific gardening questions, call the North Fulton Extension office at (404) 613-7670.