Master Gardener classes set

Published 8:31 pm Friday, January 4, 2013

Educational displays by the Master Gardeners line the red entrance tent at Peanut Festival last year. The project is just one of many community programs created by Master Gardeners.

If you’ve ever wanted to put your gardening skills to use for more than just beautifying your own yard, there is a set of classes coming up you’ll want to attend.

The Suffolk Master Gardeners are having an orientation and series of classes required to become a Master Gardener. The orientation will be held Jan. 24, and classes begin the following week.

“Becoming a Master Gardener is a way to allow you to learn more about gardening, whether it be flowers, vegetables, trees, shrubs or whatever, for your enjoyment, for the wildlife and for others to see,” organization president Wanda Gerard said. “You just learn so much.”

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The Master Gardeners are a volunteer group affiliated with Virginia Cooperative Extension. They promote environmentally sound horticulture practices, help educate the community about gardening, perform community service and serve in other vital functions.

The Jan. 24 orientation will be held at 10 a.m. at the Extension office, 440 Market St. Classes will begin Jan. 29 and continue every Tuesday and Thursday through the end of March.

Tuesday’s classes will be held at the Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center, 6321 Holland Road, and Thursday classes will be at the Magnolia Ruritan clubhouse, 1029 Nansemond Parkway.

Gerard said the classes cover a wide variety of gardening topics, including soil, water, perennials, vegetable gardening, organic gardening, insects, pruning and more.

“It’s important to learn all that so that you can be a better gardener,” she said.

After completing the classes, prospective Master Gardeners must do 50 hours of volunteer work at Master Gardener events during a one-year period. Thereafter, Master Gardeners are required to complete 20 hours of volunteer work each year and attend meetings.

Activities in which the Master Gardeners are involved include community gardening, educational gardens at Sleepy Hole Park, Peanut Festival displays, annual fundraisers and more.

Those who are interested in participating should call Gerard at 443-742-2593 before Jan. 10 and leave a message.