By Bette O’Steen, WVU Extension Service Certified Master Gardener Volunteer
The primary function of a Master Gardener is to provide research based horticultural answers to the public and the communities where they live. A Master Gardener is a WVU trained and certified educator, advisor, and volunteer. Master Gardeners (MGs) improve their area by maintaining demonstration gardens as an outdoor learning experience. The MG is the person who gets you answers when you have questions about a disease or insect problem with your plants or the landscape. Do not expect the MGs to be a free labor force although we plant and work on some ongoing civic projects. Master Gardeners are guest speakers to civic groups. We visit your meeting and bring a lecture on the gardening topic of your choice. We also can be found demonstrating gardening techniques and giving out how-to pamphlets at local festivals and homecomings. We teach gardening classes at community and technical colleges for adults. We work with the children and young adults of Junior Master Gardener, 4-H, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
Master Gardeners are available to help on larger scale projects for cities, parks, or businesses. The Master Gardeners will help you plan a garden area suited to your needs and wishes. We have multiple programs and themes we modify to make gardening easy, rewarding, and tailored to your specific goals. Each project must be accepted by the Master Gardeners and approved by the County Agent.
You can reach the Master Gardeners directly or you may contact your County Agricultural Agent at the Extension Service Office who will pass the message on to the Master Gardeners. The first thing the MGs will do is visit you and the proposed garden location. We will determine your goals, measure and assess the area, and study the feasibility of the project. When we have gathered all the facts we will make recommendations. Then we will work with you to arrive at a design, timeline, and completion plan for the project. We have two standard safety cautions we cover at every work session. First is protection from the sun and heat. Water stations are a must have for the safety of volunteers. Secondly we focus on using tools safely as we don’t like to see rakes break noses.
For all projects we look beyond planting to long-term maintenance and educational opportunities. At the conclusion of a planting we will provide you with plant profiles covering all the details of watering and maintenance requirements for your plants. Our ideal project is one we can use to show as a demonstration to others in the community. We would like to re-visit your project a couple of times each year to teach various aspects of gardening by example. The topics we teach are timed to the season. We have a large variety of garden topics to choose from including soil amendments, seed saving, heirloom vegetables, and zinnias.
A beautiful garden is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient but persistent and you will reap wonderful rewards.
Programs and activities offered by the WVU Extension Service are available to all persons without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, or national origin.
Bette O’Steen is a WVU Certified Master Gardener and lecturer who enjoys sharing a deep love of tasty fresh food and beautiful landscapes with her community. She holds a Master of Business Administration and has vast experience in working with volunteers of all ages. She is the author of a homespun gardening column “Bette’s Beds” in the Nicholas Chronicle. Bette and her husband own and operate Grassy Creek Farms in Leivasy where they specialize in growing perennial flowers, herbs, and heirloom vegetables.