The Van Buren County Master Gardeners is part of the state Master Gardener organization within the University of Arkansas County Extension Service. The state boasts the involvement of approximately 80 counties in Arkansas, celebrating their 26th year in existence in 2015.
The Van Buren County Master Gardeners began just over 20 years ago, with three members. Today, the group has 50 active members and grows each year. There are no requirements to become a Master Gardener, other than a passion or willingness to learn about gardening in Arkansas. A class approved by the University of Arkansas is presented to new candidates, and requires about 40 hours. It contains subject matter regarding landscaping and design, growing fruits, vegetables, annuals and perrenials, use of pesticides, turf management, and a whole range of horticulturally related subjects. The course is taught by university professors, extension staff, and volunteers. After the course work, the Master Gardener is required a certain amount of volunteer hours on project and educational activity.
Projects in Van Buren County include Ed Leamon Park, Ho-Wa park, the memorial gardens, and the recycle center gardens in Fairfield Bay, and the Ozark Health Center, County Office Annex, Revenue Office, and Special School in Clinton. Other involvement has been working with school children in educational and hand-ons planting projects. Generally, the projects that are on-going are for civic or government space, but individual gardeners can gain special hours for research and providing advice and help to friends and neighbors. Master Gardeners provide judges at the County Fairs when asked, as well.
Meetings are held monthly and consist of a business meeting and a program or tour of a member garden. There are always many opportunities provided for seminars and tours offered by the state organization, as well. It’s a fun, cohesive, growing group that is always learning and leading.
For more information about this organization or to become a member, please call the Van Buren County Extension Service at 745-7117 or search the website at www.UAEX.edu