It's WSU master gardener volunteer week

Good Gardening


Last updated 4/16/2014 at 10:54am

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, has proclaimed the week of April 13-19, 2014 as Washington State University Master Gardener Volunteer Week. The program, which is celebrating its 41st year of service, was begun in the state of Washington as a result of expanding interest in gardening in rapidly growing urban areas. Today the horticulture “master” volunteer concept is so effective it has spread throughout the United States and several provinces in Canada.

The initial training curriculum, which was developed by the area extension agents in collaboration with Western Washington Resource and Extension Center education specialists in Puyallup, included culture of ornamental plants, lawns, and fruit; control of plant diseases, insects and weeds, and safe use of pesticides. In the spring of 1973 the first training sessions took place in King County and Pierce County. Later that year training was provided by the Horticulture Extension agent in Spokane, making the program a statewide endeavor.

Today there are nearly 4,000 master gardeners across the state, staffing plant clinics in 105 communities and 171 locations. Each master gardener receives approximately 60 hours of training and volunteers a minimum of 50 hours as a community educator in his or her community, extending the service of the university to more than 500,000 people each year. Master Gardener Volunteers teach local community members about managing their gardens and landscapes in a sustainable manner. They emphasize environmental priorities, such as water conservation and water quality protection. In addition, Master gardener volunteers encourage reducing the impact of invasive species and work to increase public awareness of healthy living through gardening.

Master gardeners also enhance communities through demonstration gardens and donation of produce to local food banks. They help low-income citizens learn to grow their own food and become more self-sufficient.

As a master gardener, I would love to hear from you about any problems and successes in your gardening endeavors. With the combined resources from other master gardener volunteers and WSU Extension research, we can usually find answers to your questions. This summer I will be at the Saturday's Market in Grand Coulee, along with a new master gardener trainee, Arrow Coyote, on the first Saturday of each month.


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