Q: What do Master Gardeners do? How can I become one? — Richard in Templeton
A: Do you enjoy gardening and have a desire to volunteer in the community? If you have time and energy to share, you might consider becoming a Master Gardener.
The primary mission of the UC Master Gardener program is to educate the public about home gardening and pest management. This program is the link between home gardeners and the University of California’s research-based information.
There are many opportunities for San Luis Obispo Master Gardeners to help with the mission of education. One is the monthly Advice to Grow By event held in the demonstration garden. Recent topics include summer fruit tree pruning, pest management and sustainable landscaping. There are three Helpline offices — in Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo and Templeton — to assist gardeners with their questions.
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Master Gardeners also have booths at various farmers’ markets and special events around the county. They are frequently requested to speak at service organizations and garden club meetings. Finally, a docent program will be initiated next year for The Garden of the Seven Sisters to make this demonstration garden more available to the public. We are especially interested in bilingual applicants who can help us reach more of our gardening community.
Before volunteering, Master Gardener trainees attend classes taught by farm advisors and university professors. Afterwards, the new Master Gardener interns are required to perform at least 50 hours of volunteer service and 12 hours of continuing education within a year. In following years, 25 volunteer hours are required to remain certified, but some people volunteer many more hours.
Join us on Oct. 31 at 1 p.m. in the auditorium at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo, and learn about all of the volunteer opportunities. If you wish to apply to the program, applications are due Nov. 15 and are available online at http://ucanr.edu/sites/mgslo/Master_Gardener_Training_Program or by calling the SLO Helpline at 781-5939. Group interviews will be conducted in early December and training classes will be held on Thursday afternoons from mid-February until mid-June 2014.
GOT A GARDENING QUESTION?
Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners at 781-5939 on Mondays and Thursdays from 1 to 5 p.m. in San Luis Obispo; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon in Arroyo Grande; or at 434-4105 on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners website at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo or email firstname.lastname@example.org .