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Master Gardening classes scheduled

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If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about gardening and share that knowledge with others, the Wythe-Bland Region Master Gardener Classes are for you. Master Gardening is a fun way to learn environmentally sound horticulture practices through sustainable landscape management, education and training.

A Master Gardener trainee has one physical year, from Sept. 13, 2022, to Sept. 13, 2023, to complete a total of 100 hours to become a full Master Gardener. The Master Gardener status is gained in three stages: Master Gardener Trainee: 50 hours of education; Master Gardener Intern: 50 hours of volunteer service on approved projects; Virginia Master Gardener status: completion of both the 50 hours of education and the 50 hours of volunteer service.

If interested, the next step is to set up an interview appointment. The deadline for setting up an appointment is Friday, July 29. Interview appointments are being scheduled for Aug. 8-12.

The next classes will begin on Sept. 13, 2022, and will run through April 18, 2023. With the development of online modules by Virginia Tech, classes will be a combination of online, in-class, and labs.

There are 17 scheduled meetings to be held on Tuesdays from 6 to 9 pm. at Wytheville Community College’s Smyth Hall, room 130. The bi-weekly meetings on Tuesdays will include the following: seven classes from 6 to 9 p.m., seven one-hour labs, and self-directed online education in seven areas. Students will receive 50 hours of education by April 19, 2023, and will be required to complete 50 hours of approved volunteer service within the physical year.

The cost is $150, which includes the Master Gardener classes, the Master Gardener Manual with access to the online modules, handouts, and lab materials. Virginia Cooperative Extension has a system in place, called My Better Impact, that manages record keeping. Students will receive sign-in directions to submit their application and other details. Information about this will be given at the interview.

Wythe-Bland Master Gardeners are trained volunteers with Virginia Cooperative Extension. They are trained to help home gardeners with research and gardening information. As an outreach component of the extension service, the Master Gardener program brings the resources of Virginia’s land-grant universities like Virginia Tech to local residents and gardeners. To become a Master Gardener, participants must take the course, plus perform 50 hours of volunteer work with various community projects, including the WCC Learning Gardens. If there are enough volunteers, Master Gardeners are involved in teaching and speaking engagements, the Chautauqua Festival and the farmer’s markets in Wytheville and Rural Retreat.

Patricia Aker is head of the Wythe-Bland Master Gardener Education Committee. She has been a Master Gardener for two decades.

“I like access to information and the knowledge we have,” she said. “It comes out of the Virginia Extension agency at Virginia Tech, so we have access to horticulture information, biology information, and we bring that out to the community from the college.”

Master Gardeners are up-to-date on current information on topics of interest to gardeners, like how to address problems in the garden, insects, garden diseases, the use of herbicides and the benefits of organic gardens and what science says about them.

“Go organic and don’t use pesticides,” she said. “If you use pesticides, you better be very, very careful. It takes a lot of knowledge to use pesticides … and to use them safely. You have to read the fine print.”

Master Gardener Trainees are considered a Virginia Cooperative Extension volunteer. All volunteers are required to have a background screening. The Virginia Cooperative Extension Offices process the screening. The screening cost is $12.50, to be paid directly by the trainee. Detailed procedures for completing this process will be presented at the interview; it is an easy process.

Topics covered during the classes include: botany, pruning, nutrient management, entomology, plant pathology, pesticide use and safety, plant propagation, the vegetable garden, fruits in the home garden, lawns, woody landscape plants, herbaceous plants, landscape design, water quality and conservation, habitat gardening for wildlife, soils, bees and other pollinators.

For information or to schedule an interview, email wbrmg.ed.com@gmail.com or call David Danner at 276-223-7773.

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