Master Gardener classes begin March 19

PARKERSBURG – For anyone interested in learning more about gardening or horticulture, whether you’re just getting started or already have some experience, Wood County Master Gardener classes are scheduled to start March 19 and open to all.

The Master Gardener Program, which is sponsored by the West Virginia University Extension Office, will offer classes for the new session meeting every Tuesday from 6-9 p.m. from March 19 to May 21 in the Jack Buckley public meeting room on the third floor of the Wood County Courthouse.

To become a certified master gardener, individuals must complete the required 30 hours of course work then perform 30 hours of community service.

“In the classes, we’ll be teaching everything from the basics, botany, plant propagation, soils, pest control using several different methods, vegetable gardening. Tree fruits, small fruits and pruning will be added this year. We will be doing entomology and plant pathology. At the end of the classes, each participate has to give a 5-minute presentation on a horticulture-related topic,” West Virginia University Extension agricultural agent J.J. Barrett said.

The purpose of the volunteer master gardener program is to teach the horticulture skills, then take those skills into the community and get involved with volunteer projects.

“So the purpose of the program is community service, it’s not just to take the classes to learn about gardening, it’s also to help other people. We have several projects, a number of community gardens, the Armstrong Garden in Williamstown, a school garden at Jefferson School, one is going in at the Parkersburg Boys and Girls Club. We have an exhibit and information booth at the Farmers’ Market and Winter Market. We work within the schools, the Edison Arboretum. There is also an arboretum behind the main Wood County Library,” Barrett said.

“They can also think up a project of their own. One master gardener put some raised flower beds in at Blennerhassett Heights. We are always adding more sites, anything for beatification of the community, flower beds, promoting vegetable gardens to feed your family then learn how to can and preserve food,” Barrett said.

The classes are for beginnings but will add to the knowledge of even an experience gardener, Barrett said.

Cost is $100 for the courses, speakers, course materials, a large manual, and related expenses.

Over the past 3-4 years, Barrett said about 40 master gardeners have been trained.

“We have seen more interest, I think people want to eat healthier and want to know where their food came from, so they are looking at growing their own,” Barrett said.

Patricia White has been a master gardener since 2006.

“I worked in the Lowes garden center and got interested through another master gardener. I’ve helped with planting flower gardens in Parkersburg City Park, and with the community gardens. My grandmother started me into gardening when I was three years old. Then my Dad kept me involved. Then I worked in the garden center, around plants, it just seemed natural to get involved with master gardeners. I enjoy sharing my knowledge with others,” White said.

Linda Fiore has been a master gardener since 2001.

“I like the diversity of information you can get. There is tons of stuff I haven’t even touched. The extension office is a great resource,” Fiore said. She is currently coordinating the upcoming plant sale/seminar which the group offers in the fall and spring each year.