By Tia Lynn Lecorchick Staff Writer
The Master Gardener program is a diverse club comprised of active training volunteers across multiple Georgia counties that promotes environmental stewardship, home food production, gardening with youth, and transfers gardening research and techniques to the University of Georgia (UGA) Cooperative Extension. The program was founded in 1979.
According to Carol McKee, president of the Morgan County Master Gardeners Club, Morgan County’s branch of the Master Gardeners is flourishing along with the garden work they do. “Members continually assist other groups, clubs and individuals with advice and expertise obtained through the Master Gardeners experiences,” said McKee.
According to Lucy Ray, the county extension coordinator for the Northeast District of the Master Gardeners, the Master Gardeners club in Morgan County is something special.
“This is an exceptional group of community minded volunteers. I think that they are continually bettering the community by educating the public in numerous ways,” said Ray.
“We are blessed to have an exceptional group of volunteers in the Morgan County Master Gardeners. Members turn in project requests on different ways that they can educate the public about better gardening practices,” said Ray.
“We currently have about 10 fully certified Master Gardeners in the Morgan County Master Gardeners.” Ray explained the process of becoming a fully certified master gardener. “Each member of the Master Gardener program has been through a training course and completed the required number of volunteer hours for the Extension office in order to become a Master Gardener.,” said Ray.
“In addition, we welcome friends of Master Gardeners’ to our meetings. These individuals are those who have not yet been through the training course, but perhaps are interested in seeing what we do, enjoy the educational meetings and would like more information on how to become a Master Gardener.”
The club offers numerous education events throughout the year to train aspiring gardeners. “One of our most popular events is the ‘Master Gardener Mondays,’ said Ray.
“A Master Gardener is on call in the Morgan County Extension office every Monday from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. to answer any queries from the public on horticulture.” McKee is proud of the work the Master Gardeners clubs has achieved in the community in the last four years.
“Since 2010 we have held a yearly plant sale in September at the Morgan County Extension office grounds. We hold our sale at this time because it is the optimum time for planting, and we sell only plants that have been propagated by Master Gardeners, many of which are hard to find elsewhere. This Plant Sale gives us an opportunity to meet and greet the public of our county and to give advice on where and how to plant and to help with information of what does well in our area and what does not,” explained McKee.
“In 2013 the Voting Office on Hancock Street had its front garden completely redone. Master Gardeners designed and shopped for the plants, and then assisted county employees in planting them. As the plants grow, this should be a beautiful area which is viewed by many. Advice has been given to other sites around town to assist in removing and adding plants,” said McKee.
McKee is pleased with the progress being made on the Master Gardeners latest community endeavor. “Master Gardeners have an ongoing project involving beautifying the Extension Office yard. Much improvement has been made there, and much more is to come.
Our goal is to make this an area where the public can view and identify flowers and other plants by markers, and learn what does well in certain areas, thereby taking the information home to use in their own gardens,” said McKee. McKee encourages all who interested to join the club on April 28 for a field trip to Athens, Georgia. “On April 28 we will be leaving the county Extension Office no later than 4:15 p.m. for a trip to Athens to view and enjoy the garden of Ram and Tom Giberson.
This is a beautiful home garden, showing what an individual can do with the right inspiration. Anyone is welcome to join us, but must meet us at our location at 440 Hancock Street, Madison,” said McKee. The next event will be the Hypertufa Workshop at the Extension Office on May 17 -18, which will be open to the public with a charge of $25 which covers all materials needed.
“Those attending will learn how to make planters which look like the heavy concrete ones, but are lighter and easier to handle, and all will take a planter home. Watch for information on this prior to the date. Other workshops will be announced for Saturdays during the year,” said McKee.
To find out more information about the Master Gardeners Club, contract Lucy Ray at: 706-342-2214, or Carol McKee at: 706-342-8555.