After a six-year absence, the Master Gardener program in Multnomah County has finally been revived. Oregon State Extension urban horticulturist Weston Miller is currently teaching 75 Master Gardeners-in-training, and says the program’s rebirth couldn’t have come at a better time.
“In the past two weeks I’ve probably received five calls or so from churches and other organizations that what help on how to start a community garden,” Miller says. “I’m in conversation with the Oregon Food Bank and others who are getting similar requests. Food gardening is a way to respond to current economic times, especially neighborhood efforts where they can produce food for the Food Bank, community members, and themselves.”
Master Gardeners, trained through the Oregon State Extension Services, learn how to care for plants properly – they learn about soils, composting, plant diseases, ecological landscaping, and more. They also commit to 66 hours of volunteer gardening education when they take the course (unless they are involved in the landscaping or nursery industry and pays an extra fee for the class). That means that Miller’s current Multnomah County class will log more than 4,000 hours of community service.
What’s more, Miller says that Oregon State’s Extension has trained 175 people in Washington, Multnomah and Clackamas Coutnies in 2009 alone: That’s more than 10,000 hours of community service.