Union County residents looking for a fun, active community service opportunity are invited to join the Rutgers Master Gardeners of Union County. Master Gardeners are trained and certified by Rutgers experts. No previous experience with gardening is needed.

Applications are being accepted now to begin the next training series. The deadline to apply is August 31.

“The training course provides both experts and beginners with a valuable learning experience while serving our community,” said Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen. “The Master Gardeners program is a very active, creative volunteer organization, and the Freeholder Board is proud to support this worthy program.”

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The mission of the Master Gardeners is to share knowledge, experience, and love of gardening through community activities including neighborhood garden and beautification projects, education, and outreach to seniors and the disabled.

The highlight of the program is the Union County Demonstration Garden, located in Mountainside. The large, elaborate grounds serve as the platform for the Master Gardeners’ large produce donation program, educational programs and summer camps, and many other initiatives.

The Demonstration Garden also provides Master Gardeners with opportunities to explore emerging trends in urban horticulture, such as rain gardens and rainwater harvesting, and share their experiences with the community.

The Master Gardeners program is run by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County. It is supported by the Freeholder Board as part of a national county-based community agriculture program under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Extension offices are located in the County’s Colleen Fraser Building in Westfield, and the Demonstration Garden is located in the County’s Watchung Reservation near the Trailside Nature and Science Center.

The training and certification program consists of weekly sessions from October 18 through May of next year. A modest fee covers materials. Trainees commit to at least 6 hours of volunteer service before training is completed, and a total of 60 hours of service over a period of 12 to 18 months.

To obtain a Master Gardeners application, or for more information please call Judi Laganga at the Extension, 908-654-9854 (ext. 2) or email jlaganga@ucnj.org using Master Gardeners in the subject line. Applications are due by August 31.

For more information about the Master Gardeners and all Rutgers Cooperative Extension programs visit ucnj.org/rce

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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