Share your love of gardening — develop into a grasp gardener

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Marcy Sousa
| What is growing

Always wanted to learn more about gardening? Would you like to have more science-based knowledge in horticulture? Are you interested in meeting new people who have similar interests while making a difference in the community?

The San Joaquin UC Master Gardener Program might be right for you. San Joaquin County’s UC Master Gardener Program is an opportunity to use your enthusiasm, knowledge, and skills to volunteer for the community.

Master gardeners are community members who love gardening and are happy to share their knowledge with others. This program provides comprehensive training in home horticulture best practices and an opportunity to use your knowledge in the service of your community. Our volunteers help home and community gardeners get the maximum benefit and enjoyment from gardening. Our volunteers help neighborhoods promote healthier gardens, communities and a sustainable environment.

The Master Gardener program began in Washington State in 1972 and quickly expanded to other states. The University of California’s first programs were established in Riverside and Sacramento Counties in 1980. San Joaquin County restarted its program in 2007 and since then the San Joaquin Master Gardeners have volunteered over 67,700 hours and earned over 19,000 hours of professional development. The program is funded by the cities and counties of San Joaquin and AB939 and focuses on the diversion of green waste from our landfills. The Master Gardener Program enables the University of California Cooperative Extension to more efficiently share its extensive gardening resources and science-based gardening information with county residents through public services, educational opportunities, and research programs.

Master gardeners work in their community by volunteering for activities and projects such as:

  • Design, planting and maintenance of show gardens
  • Use of mass media to exchange garden information
  • Teaching workshops and demonstrations or lectures on gardening practices
  • Participation in research activities with academics within the UC
  • Answering gardeners’ questions by email or hotline
  • Public relations on horticultural / horticultural topics
  • Occupy information stands at community events
  • Education and instruction of parents and teachers in gardening in support of school gardens

Our next training begins on January 25, 2022 and is open to residents of San Joaquin County. Budding master gardeners have to attend an orientation meeting in October. An interview with experienced Master Gardeners follows in order to be accepted into the UCCE Master Gardener Program. Those who take part in the program pledge to donate at least 50 hours of volunteering the first year and 25 hours each year thereafter and earn 12 hours of continuing education to remain certified.

The training program will be a comprehensive 19 week course that will provide a hands-on overview of horticultural and sustainable landscape practices. The training sessions take place on Tuesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Classes are conducted by UC faculty experts and staff, landscaping and tree nursery professionals, local horticultural educators, and certified master gardeners who are excellent teachers and inspire students. The trainees must pass the weekly tests and take the final exam with 70% or better at home. We are planning a face-to-face meeting at the Robert Cabral Agricultural Center in Stockton. If we can’t meet in person, we hold classes virtually. You can find applications on our website. The registration fee for this program is $ 190, which includes a copy of the UC Master Gardener manual, as well as other UC home horticulture books, and includes educational materials. Course fees are not due until applicants have been accepted into the program.

After completing this training, the newly certified master gardeners not only have expanded knowledge, but above all an understanding of how and where they can find precise information in order to share it with the public on all possible gardening topics. As a bonus, you’ll also have a group of new friends who share the same interest, enthusiasm, and commitment to helping the public. You will meet other like-minded people and learn how to have healthier plants, healthier gardeners, a healthier environment and community, and choose projects that suit your interests, skills and abilities.

You can find more information about our program and the next trainings on our website. ucanr.edu/mgt22. If you have any questions, please contact the Master Gardener Helpline at (209) 953-6112.