The Polk County Master Gardeners recently presented a class to several newcomers, who recently graduated the program, with much more knowledge than when they began. County Extension Agent Carla Vaught said the program teaches horticulture, including vegetable gardening, landscaping, flowers, beekeeping, trees & shrubs, and more. The 40-hour class was held in the new Education Center next to the Extension Office. Several current Master Gardeners participated in teaching the program, passing down priceless knowledge of what they have learned through the program.
A dozen students enrolled in the program learned 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.
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.