October 11 through 17 marks the 27th year of the University of Arkansas Agricultural Extension Service Master Gardener program and 20thyear that the Montgomery County Master Gardeners (MCMG) have volunteered their experience and expertise to educate and beautify the communities in Montgomery County.
Don’t let that word “master” fool you! Ask a Master Gardener what the word “Master” really means and you’re likely to hear: “Oh, we aren’t masters of gardening; actually every day we learn something new. What we do especially well is share what we learn with our neighbors and our community members.” In 2014 over 3,000 Master Gardener volunteers across Arkansas donated more than 180,000 hours of service to Arkansas projects. Thirty-three Montgomery County Master Gardeners donated over 3000 hours to project work and education in the same year.
Annual Plant Sale: Perhaps best known for their annual plant sale at the Heritage House Museum, Master Gardeners plant and nurture healthy, home-grown plants: vegetables, herbs, indoor and outdoor flowers, bushes, and trees bought by hundreds of eager buyers. The museum itself is one of the MCMG’s projects.
Beautification and Education Projects: These busy lady and gentleman gardeners also invest in Montgomery County by volunteering at least 20 hours a year working in Montgomery County projects. You’ve probably seen the signs that identify projects where they focus on beautifying the gardens at some of our public buildings: Other MCMG projects include the Montgomery County Courthouse, Caddo Indian Gap Monument, and the Montgomery County Nursing Home. Montgomery County Master Gardeners’ Gardenmeisters maintain a garden just for nursing home residents, and our Garden Buds take them out to enjoy its beauty during the summer months.
Tasty Acre Community Project: In addition, MCMG manages a very special project that typifies what Montgomery County Master Gardeners is all about. “Tasty Acre” provides families in our county with an organic vegetable and herb garden and teaches them how to grow their own healthy, cost-effective produce.
Master Gardeners also support gardens for county public schools, take leadership roles at Montgomery County Agriculture Day, and help with many other beautification and education projects. It’s not all work though. MCMG is a place to meet old friends and make new ones. Each first Wednesday they conduct their monthly official meeting followed by a program on a fascinating topic and, of course, refreshments.
You certainly don’t have to be a gardening wizard to be a Master Gardener. In January of every year, interns attend a 40-hour training program held over several months to become a new Master Gardener. If you are interested in joining, contact the Montgomery County Cooperative Extension Office at 870-867-2311.