Distinction is made [UPDATED]Published 7:36am Monday, December 2, 2013 Updated 11:38am Monday, December 2, 2013
There seems to be some confusion among the populace as to the difference between master fardeners and the members of the garden club. While there is some crossover between the two groups, they are separate entities.
Garden club members are gardeners who enjoy socializing with other gardeners, meeting to listen to informative speeches about gardening from their own members and guest speakers.
They sponsor the plant sale where their members sell plants from their own gardens.
There is no education required to join the garden club, nor are they obligated to donate time to the club.
Master gardeners, by contrast, must have 48 hours of college level classes taught by the professors from the University of Minnesota. After taking the classes, they still are not officially master gardeners. They must first put in 50 volunteer hours.
Even then, they can’t just sit on their laurels. They must have another 25 hours of volunteer work and five hours of education each year to keep their titles.
While some master gardeners work at nurseries, those hours are not included in their volunteer hours. The hours must be unpaid hours.
The official instruction from the University of Minnesota is: “Master Gardeners are University of Minnesota trained volunteers whose job it is to educate the public about a variety of horticulture subjects using readily available up-to-date research-based information.
This education effort is designed to enhance the public’s quality of life and promote good stewardship of the environment.”
Quite a job. Garden Day is one way the master gardeners get their yearly hours.
The planning starts in October and ends, this year, on April 5.
They assemble 35 to 40 speakers who hold classes on everything from starting your own plants to how to prune your apple tree for the biggest crop of healthy apples.
There are other ways to get the required hours. Some of the braver members are available to speak to groups interested in gardening.
Others answer questions in the Extension office, at the County Fair, State Fair, and on the local radio.
Some of the group specializes in various sub garden subjects like trees, vegetables, perennials or seed starting.
Some act as advisors, for instance at the community garden. Members of the garden club are also involved in that garden.
So, next time you buy a plant from the plant sale, thank the garden club. When you attend Garden Day, thank the master gardeners. They are easy to spot that day as they have on flashy purple T-shirts.
Both groups are an asset to the community; just don’t confuse one for the other. While members of either group may not have a hissy fit if you confuse the two, just remember, Garden Day, Master Gardeners, plant sale, garden club.
Bev Johnson is a master gardener in Otter Tail County.