Master Gardener training set in Fredonia; deadline to register is April 29

hand with flower
Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County will hold its first Master Gardener Core Training class in three years from Sept. 6 through Oct. 1 on the campus of the State University New York at Fredonia.

The deadline to register is Friday, April 29.

For an application, email or contact Lucia Conti at 664-9502, ext. 209, or stop into the Frank W. Bratt Agricultural Center, 3542 Turner Rd., Jamestown.

Applicants will be interviewed by a team of Master Gardener volunteers in June and notified of their acceptance well in advance of the first class in September.

Class size is limited to 25.

There is an $85 fee for the class, with the first $25 due upon acceptance to cover the cost of training materials and the background check, which is required for all volunteers who represent Cornell Cooperative Extension Chautauqua in the community.

“Holding the classes at SUNY Fredonia will make it easier for interested north county residents to participate,” said Carol Lorenc, Master Gardener president. Lorenc pointed out that many people have been unable to attend previous trainings at the Bratt Agricultural Center in Jamestown due to travel issues.

The schedule for the 2016 training will be different as well. Instead of once-a-week sessions spread out over many weeks, this year’s classes will meet from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays from from Sept. 6 through Oct. 1 .

“We hope this concentrated time frame will appeal to trainees,” said Mike Jabot, Master Gardener Core Training coordinator, professor of Science Education at SUNY Fredonia and Master Gardener volunteer.  “Falling between Labor Day and Columbus Day, we hope the classes are unlikely to conflict with families’ vacation plans.”

In Chautauqua County, becoming a Master Gardener volunteer begins with training focusing on selected topics such as soils, seed starting, plant propagation, companion planting, composting, tree identification, pruning, native and invasive plant and animal species, beneficial insects, plant diseases and integrated pest management.

After completing Master Gardener Core Training, graduates agree to perform 50 hours of approved volunteer activities during the following year, and 35 hours per year thereafter to maintain active status.  Volunteers can choose from a wide array of activities, suited to individual tastes and talents, to satisfy this requirement.

Some Master Gardener volunteers staff a weekly help-line at the Bratt Center during the growing season, answering residents’ gardening questions and providing advice. Others may give free Trowel Talks on selected topics, work on school or community gardening projects, participate in the annual fundraising plant sale or serve on Master Gardener committees. Other volunteers plan, plant and maintain the MG demonstration garden at the Bratt Center and, in the summer, host educational, once-a-month Evening in the Garden events, which are open to the public and feature taste-testing of produce grown there, or recipes made from the produce.

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