MASTER GARDENERS HAVE SUCCESS
GARDEN TIPS – Written by Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA Written January 3, 2016
Supposedly Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again, but expecting a different result. I wonder if there is a word for doing something over and over again and expecting the same result? For me, the word are repeated success. This January will be my 37th year of providing training to volunteers who want to become Washington State University Extension Master Gardeners.
This enormously successful program was started by WSU Extension in 1972 as a way to help handle the large number of home gardening and landscape care questions being received in local extension offices. When I came here in 1980, the program had already been started in the Tri-Cities. Back then there were about 20 new and returning or “veteran” volunteers who annually received training and volunteered their time mostly by answering home gardening questions in local plant clinics.
Like any well nurtured seed, the Master Gardener program has grown and blossomed since it was planted. Now there are about 150 new and veteran volunteers every year who receive training and volunteer their service to teach others how to garden. Their volunteer service includes not only staffing plant clinics as before, but also maintaining a 3-acre Master Gardener Demonstration Garden in Kennewick; teaching gardening to adults and children; and helping establish and mentor local community gardens.
This past spring the Benton-Franklin Master Gardeners decided to build an outdoor classroom within their Demonstration Garden. This classroom, with seating for 50, will be used for teaching classes and community events. A crew of very dedicated and hardworking Master Gardeners built this impressive Waterfall Classroom, lifting 50 tons of landscape blocks during hottest summer on record with their own hands, hard work, and sweat.
The Waterfall Classroom and the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden, built and maintained by the Master Gardeners, is a public garden worthy of a visit anytime, but it is at its best during the spring, summer, and fall months when plants are green, growing, and blooming. It is a beautiful place for learning about plants and nature, walking, and taking photographs. You can find it behind the Mid-Columbia Library and adjacent to Highlands Grange Park at 1620 S. Union in Kennewick.
This year the Master Gardener Education Team taught almost 5000 children and adults about gardening. The Master Gardener Food Garden Team helped establish 15 new community gardens and mentored 33 food gardens. New gardeners learned to grow their own veggies for feeding their families. This team is currently working on raising funds to build even more beds next year.
I am immensely proud of the success of the Benton-Franklin WSU Extension Master Gardener program and the many wonderful volunteers over the years who have made that success possible. We will be starting a new training program in late January and are looking for new volunteers interested in becoming Master Gardeners and giving volunteer service to our community as WSU Extension Master Gardeners.
Training sessions are held locally every Tuesday afternoon, starting the last week of January. New participants are required to attend these sessions and also to take an on-line basic horticulture course from WSU. The cost of the training is $115, plus participants are expected to return 50 hours of return volunteer service to the program.
I am excited about this year’s face-to-face training that will include WSU faculty and local experts talking about GMOs, forensic entomology, climate and weather forecasting, irrigation management, water movement in soils, vegetable gardening, weed management, and much more.
Would you like to become a WSU Master Gardener? Contact the local extension office for an application by calling 735-3551. The deadline for applications is January 20th.