BY MELANIE BUCK –
The Polk County Extension Office is currently holding Master Gardener classes and according to Extension Agent Carla Vaught, the students are about halfway through their curriculum. Throughout the program, twelve students are adding a vast knowledge of all gardening topics and even include hands-on experience in local projects.
Students learn botany, soil science, plant propagation, pest management, pesticide and herbicide usage, vegetable and ornamental plant gardening, plant and weed identification, pruning and other horticulture related subjects. In exchange, Master Gardeners donate back to local communities by answering questions, researching specific problems, planting educational and therapeutic gardens, and more.
Simplifying some of the landscaping at the Polk County Courthouse is one project that has been included. Renovating and cleaning up the project is meant to decrease the amount of maintenance currently needed to care for the Courthouse lawn’s botanical areas.
Master Gardener programs exist in every state in the country and in six Canadian provinces. The Arkansas Master Gardener program began in 1988 in four counties (Garland, Jefferson, Pulaski, and Saline) and had 40 members. The statewide program now has over 3,000 volunteers in 67 counties, a reported 102,850 education hours and 181,371 service hours in 2014, and coordinates over 20 county and regional horticultural fairs annually.