Editor’s note: This article was originally published in Spring 2015 Home & Garden (Sound Publishing).
Just what is a Master Gardener?
In Kitsap County the Master Gardener Educational program consists of a 12-week course that begins in January. Training is a combination of online and in-class study being held on Fridays, mid-January through mid-April.
The Master Gardener core curriculum includes lectures in basic botany, horticulture, soil science, sustainable garden management, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), plant health care, pesticide safety, entomology, insect pest management, plant pathology, plant disease diagnosis and control, weed identification, tree fruit and small fruit production.
In Kitsap County there is a sign-up list to join the Master Gardener program. Applications are mailed on Oct. 15 of each year.
Approximately 50 students are selected after an mandatory interview process held in November. Fees are $70 for the online portion and $155 for in class supplies and materials. Scholarships and payment options are available upon request.
Master Gardeners in their first year of training must complete 50 hours of volunteer time in order to be certified in the program. Of these 50 hours, interns must volunteer 12 hours in an assigned clinic site, eight hours at the extension office clinic, 10 hours in a selected learning garden and 20 hours of approved educational outreach.
In their second year and beyond, certified Master Gardeners are required to participate in 16 hours of approved educational outreach for the public, complete nine hours of clinic time and 10 hours of continuing education for a total of 35 hours yearly.
Master Gardeners are considered volunteer educators in their community. Individuals who are seeking education for employment or only for personal reasons and don’t want to volunteer in the community will want to apply for a Certificate in Horticulture Basics and pay $70 for the online portion and $350 for the materials and course certificate.
A sign-up list is kept at the Kitsap County Extension office for those interested in the Master Gardener Training class. To get your name on the list, click here or call the Extension office at 360-337-7157.
For more information about the Horticulture programs at Washington State University Kitsap County Extension, contact the Horticulture Coordinator — Colleen Miko at 360 307-4378 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Master Gardener Foundation
The mission of the foundation is to promote the long term environmental health through sound and sustainable horticultural practices. The purposes of the non-profit foundation are solely educational and charitable to enhance and supplement the effort of the WSU Master Gardener Program and thereby provide education and information to the citizens of Kitsap County.
The group is all-volunteer consisting of 180 Master Gardeners who raise funds for the program here in Kitsap County. If you’ve ever talked to a Master Gardener at a farmers market diagnostic clinics, then you’ve seen the foundation at work. It’s the foundation that pays for the handouts and reference materials, and the tent and the chairs.
While WSU Extension provides the training and expertise for all certified master gardeners, the foundation provides the funding for all the clinics across the county, and also at the Kitsap County Fair and the home shows.
Likewise, if you’ve enjoyed the learning gardens at Anna Smith Children’s Park, Poulsbo’s Raab Park, Bremerton’s Blueberry Park or Kitsap Fairgrounds Heritage Garden, or the Olalla Food Production Garden, then you’ve also seen the foundation at work, because it’s their fundraising that makes these activities possible.
Last year, Master Gardeners delivered nearly 2.5 tons of fresh organic fruits and vegetables to food banks in north, central and south Kitsap, all produced at learning and demonstration gardens. Master Gardeners are onsite tutors for the P-patchers at Blueberry Park and Raab Park.
To find out more, write to Master Gardener Foundation of Kitsap County, PO Box 3077, Silverdale, WA 98383, or go to www.kitsapgardners.org.