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Train to Become a Certified Master Gardner this Year

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Have you ever wanted to take your gardening hobby to the next level? Here is your chance. The Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County will train and certify you as part of their Master Gardener Program. Refine your gardening skills and channel your inner green thumb by applying for this program by Aug. 31.

“If you are looking for expert guidance on community, school, and home gardening, I encourage you to consider participating in the Master Gardeners program,” said Freeholder Chairman Bruce Bergen. “The Master Gardeners program offers a fun and exciting experience to share your passion for gardening and help build a stronger Union County.”

Almost 900 Union County residents have become certified Master Gardener volunteers since the program began 30 years ago.

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The volunteers plan and run community service projects throughout Union County.

The centerpiece of the Master Gardeners community service efforts is the Union County Demonstration Garden, an elaborate complex that provides a platform for the group’s educational programs, summer camp visits and many other projects and services. It includes a large vegetable garden that yields thousands of pounds of fresh produce for donation to local food pantries.

Once accepted into the Master Gardener program, trainees commit to attending class every Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning in early October and ending next May.

The training course is taught by Rutgers University faculty. It includes basic botany, entomology, flower gardening, integrated pest management, pesticide safety, plant pathology, soil testing and fertilizers, tree maintenance, turf management, vegetable gardening and wildlife management.

As part of the training requirement, participants provide 60 hours of volunteer service working in with one of the Master Gardeners gardening committees. Successful graduates become Certified Rutgers Master Gardeners upon completion of their volunteer commitment, which may be fulfilled within a 12-18 month period.

The Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County is funded in part by the Board of Chosen Freeholders. The Master Gardner classroom session will be held at the Extension offices at the Colleen Fraser Building in the county services complex in Westfield, at 300 North Avenue East.

The Freeholders Board supports the extension with funding for administrative support and office space, and for special projects. The Demonstration Garden is located on County property in the Watchung Reservation, by the Trailside Nature and Science Center in Mountainside.

To become a Certified Rutgers Master Gardener and request an application, email Judi Laganga at jlaganga@ucnj.org or call the Extension at 908-654-9854 (ext. 2).

Applications are due to the Extension Office by August 31. A materials fee of $200 is payable upon acceptance into the program.

For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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