COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. — Are you finding you spend more time with plants since social distancing? Would you like to increase your plant knowledge? Are you wondering how you can be more engaged with your community as we social distance and thereafter? If you answered “yes” to all these questions, you may want to consider joining us and becoming a Penn State Extension Master Gardener! Master Gardeners are passionate about plants and sharing science-based plant education with our local community.
Training for the Master Gardener Program in Montgomery County begins October 1st though an online training course. You will train with Penn State Master Gardening resources and meet trainees across the commonwealth while enjoying the local support of a developed Master Gardener Program at the Montgomery County Extension. Application deadline is the end of July.
The current Master Gardeners of Montgomery County are eager to mentor a new class of volunteers and have years of experience to share with trainees. Even though the Montgomery Extension office was one of the first to close for virus related safety protocols, it didn’t stop the Master Gardeners from supporting our community. On day one of our closing, Master Gardener Hotline Committee Chair Virginia Cunningham quickly pivoted to answering garden hotline questions remotely for the county and eventually the state when additional offices closed. Master Gardeners Thom Mrazik and Sandy Sweeney instigated a new Produce Produce Project when they noticed increasing food insecurity in our community. Even though the group’s community-favorite Annual Spring Plant Sale was cancelled, our Plant Sale Co-Chair Lori Curtis offered to coordinate a seed and plant exchange to maximize our food production for the Produce Produce Project. The Demonstration Gardens and Universal Garden committees have since dedicated all available growing space to food production this season. While the county still has virus restrictions, many gardeners are supporting our Produce Produce Project by growing extra vegetables from home. Master Gardener Apprentice Melody Hartman and her spouse even secured donated food-grade 5-gallon containers and prepped them for grow-at-home efforts. Finally, our Speakers Bureau is an intrepid bunch and many transitioned to webinars to continue to offer programming to our sheltering-at-home gardening community.
The Master Gardeners of Montgomery County are creative and tenacious, and we leverage Penn State resources to increase horticultural literacy across our community. If you would like to join the fun, reach out to the Montgomery County Master Gardener Coordinator, Dawn Stelts, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information on the fall 2020 training course.
–Sheila Crouthamel, Penn State Extension