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Master Gardeners: Who We Are, and What We Do

By Ann Glenn, Master Gardener

The annual Plant Sale sponsored by the Polk County Master Gardeners will be held Sat., May 11th from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. in the Polk County Fairgrounds Education Building. Traditionally, this sale has been to provide the community with a reliable source of healthy plants, well-adapted to our particular region. Most of the plants have been from our own yards and gardens. In recent years, we have asked for your requests and have added purchased plants to provide greater diversity of choice. We have also planted a selection of hanging baskets and container gardens.

Although we do share a common interest – gardening for the joy of it – members of the Master Gardener program are not a “garden club.”  We are members of a statewide volunteer service program. The Master Gardener program in Arkansas started in 1988 with a class of 30 people from four counties.

Polk County’s history was begun in the year 2000 with an initial class of over 20, who all completed the requirements of 40 hours of training presented through the University of Arkansas Extension Service, and passed an examination to earn the title Master Gardener.  They then proceeded to “pay back” with 40 hours of volunteer community service, plus 20 additional hours of education within the next 12 months.

To maintain their status of Master Gardener in subsequent years, members volunteer at least 20 hours’ work on community projects and accumulate another 20 hours of continuing education.

There have been 7 additional classes since the first. For the year 2018, our 18 current members reported a total of 1241 volunteer hours and 622 educational hours. We are looking forward to being joined by 18 new members of the 2019 Class, graduating April 17th.

Our activities include educational programs, seminars and workshops for ourselves and the public, and teaching gardening skills in the local schools, as well as “digging in the dirt” at our sanctioned projects.

Our major focus for the next month is getting ready for our Annual Plant Sale. We hope that you will come and take advantage of the opportunity to buy the plants to beautify your own spaces. Mark your calendar!

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