Looking for advice on the community garden scene? Need suggestions on what to grow? Not sure how to grow it? Wondering when to start those seeds in the greenhouse or the garden?
These are all excellent questions for a garden guru … how about your local Master Gardeners?
Every state may have slightly different requirements for their Master Gardeners-in-training to complete, but there is usually a volunteer component which a Master Gardener would love to fulfill as part of your garden program.
The American Horticultural Society offers links to Master Gardener programs in each state in the US (as well as programs in Canada) which you can find here. The University of Vermont is the coordinator for my local chapter, and these gardening experts have played a role in many of the community and school community gardens in Vermont.
But don’t expect that you can switch to auto-pilot just because you get connected with a Master Gardener. Last week, I had the opportunity to review an evaluation of school and community gardens that received assistance through Friends of Burlington Gardens. According to the report, several of the garden programs enlisted the help of a Master Gardener, but some of the gardens were more pleased with this relationship than others.
Why? It may be the result of too little direction provided to the Master Gardener. Without a defined role, how can these experts know where they should dig in?
Without clarifying the role of a Master Gardener – or any type of volunteer – that person’s unique abilities may never be known and benefited from. This communication about the expectations of the volunteer is needed by both parties. We all have some amazing resources in our communities which we won’t effectively utilize if we don’t ever sit down to figure out what those resources are.