Learn how to be a master gardener

WINCHESTER – The Virginia Cooperative Extension in Frederick County is accepting applications for its 2018 master gardeners training class.

Bob Gail, class coordinator, said the mission of the course is to educate individuals looking to expose and broaden their horticultural knowledge in all areas.

“We have a wide variety of individuals who participate in the program,” Gail said. “From farmers to local attorneys looking to grow fruit trees, to teachers and doctors; it’s a wide spectrum, which in turn makes it more interesting.”

The master gardener program is a two-part program designed like a college course. The first part includes over 70 hours of classroom education where students are exposed to all phases of horticulture. The second part is a required 50 hours of volunteer time where students will work in the community under supervision as a master gardener intern applying classroom principles approved by the Virginia Cooperative Extension. After completion of the program and a considerable amount of volunteer time, students will bear the title, “Extension master gardener.” The program offers classes that include entomology, botany, plant pathology and pruning.

Individuals wishing to be part of the program should submit their applications before Thursday. An interview process will take place where students will have an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the program. Class size typically ranges from 16 to 25 students. This ensures a better classroom environment for all, Gail added.

Tuition is $225 and includes “The Master Virginia Gardener Master Handbook, 2018 VCE-Pest Management Guide, one soil test; class materials, background screening fees, and the fist year of membership to the Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardener Association.

Classes begin Feb. 13 and conclude around May 12. The class meets two times a week, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at the Mid Atlantic Farm Credit, Kernstown Business Center, 125 Prosperity Drive in Winchester. Class sessions begin at 1 p.m. and conclude at 4 p.m. Participants are not allowed to miss more than three classes.

Gail, a graduate of the 2016 class, said he’s been interested in gardening since childhood. He also appreciates giving back to his local community, something being a master gardeners allows him to do.

“As a master gardener, we spend a lot of time doing various community projects,” he said. “We work with the public, children and youth programs. We teach children how to plant gardens, which I believe teaches them lifelong skills.”

More Information

Contact the Virginia Cooperative Extension – Frederick County at 540-665-5699 or http://offices.ext.vt.edu/frederick