Roll up your sleeves and grab your gloves, because a new season of Master Gardener classes will be starting soon. All classes will be held at the Middlesex County EARTH Center in Davidson’s Mill Pond Park, located at 42 Riva Ave., South Brunswick.

The Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County is offering both daytime and evening sessions for this program. Orientation (attendance is optional) will be on Thursday, Sept. 6 at 6:30 p.m. for Thursday evening classes and Friday, Sept. 7 at 9:30 a.m. for Friday morning classes. The program officially starts on Sept. 13 and 14. This program is open to all New Jersey residents.

Classroom lectures taught by Rutgers and green industry experts are held weekly from September through March. Then hands-on gardening classes meet weekly for three-hour sessions from April through mid-September (every other week in summer).

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Topics covered in the program include: sound gardening techniques; composting; creative methods of conserving resources, horticulture therapy and caring for demonstration vegetable and herb gardens. The program also requires participants to volunteer some hours of service towards Extension projects in a County park, activities and events throughout the year.

Upon graduation from the program Master Gardeners become community volunteers trained in earth-friendly gardening and environmental principles.

"Growing your own plants, vegetables and flowers can beautify your home, provide tasty produce and even reduce stress and improve health," said Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios.

“I hope that all County residents interested in gardening and the environment will consider taking this course,” says Freeholder Kenneth Armwood, Chair of the County’s Business Development and Education Committee. “It’s a great way to learn more about our local environment, and to collaborate with other residents in making our county greener, cleaner and more beautiful.”

There is a $425 tuition fee, which covers books and materials. Those interested in joining the program can call the EARTH Center at 732-398-5262 for more information or visit middlesexcountynj.gov and search Master Gardeners.

Middlesex County’s EARTH Center is home to the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County and part of a nationwide network that brings the research of the State land-grant universities to residents. Offices throughout New Jersey are cooperatively funded by the County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Rutgers University-New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Rutgers Cooperative Extension educational programs are offered to all without regard to race, religion, color, age, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.