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Marin IJ Articles

Passionate gardeners wanted

  • Wendy Irving
  • This is a favorite time of year for the UC Marin Master Gardener organization. It is when we reach out to the community to find those with an interest in joining us to help fulfill our mission — “to extend research-based knowledge and information on home horticulture, pest management, and sustainable landscape practices to the residents of Marin County” and, just as important, to learn, share and have fun doing it.

    UC Marin Master Gardeners (MMGs) is a group of 313 trained and certified volunteers. Since 1986, through educational outreach and community service, MMGs have worked as nonpaid staff members of the University of California Cooperative Extension, coming together to share their love of gardening and horticulture, as well as their individual knowledge and skills. There are master gardener programs in 50 counties across California —the Marin group is one of the largest and most active. 

    We offer the services of our free help desk in Novato next door to the California Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures, to answer questions and find solutions to your gardening problems (what is that bug and what should I do about it?). We publish a free quarterly email newsletter available to all residents of Marin and full of gardening tips, solutions and advice. We conduct public seminars, events and classes on a wide array of gardening and horticultural subjects, including Marin Friendly Garden Walks, Demonstration Gardens, Community Gardens, Native Plant Propagation and Youth Programs, including our participation in Marin County’s Farm Day and the creation of a demonstration garden and free seminars at the Marin County Fair.

    MMGs has a presence at farmers markets in San Rafael, Novato, Mill Valley and Point Reyes, as well as the ever-popular annual tomato markets in Greenbrae and Novato. And every Saturday, you can check this space in the IJ for an article written by a marin master gardener on a topic of current interest.

    Do you love to garden? Are you interested in continuing to learn about gardening and horticulture, and sharing that learning with others? Are you interested in volunteering in your community? As an MMG, you will work with fellow gardening enthusiasts, gaining scientifically sound knowledge about the life of the garden, and putting what you know into practice for the benefit of home gardeners, the community, and the environment. MMGs encourage sustainable landscape practices, support the creation of local food sources, and promote interest in gardening among young people.

    MMGs are men and women of all ages, backgrounds and walks of life. They share an enthusiasm for gardening, learning and communicating their interests with diverse groups of people. Last year, MMGs donated 26,173 hours to extending garden education to our community.

    If you want to become a Marin Master Gardener? Applications are available now online at marinmg.ucanr.edu, or at the UCCE Master Gardener Help Desk, 1682 Novato Blvd., Suite 150-B in Novato. Online application is encouraged.

    The website offers all the information you need to apply, plus gives you a comprehensive overview of the organization and what we do. Applications are due by 4 p.m. Sept. 8. In-person interviews will take place between Sept. 27 and Oct. 3. If accepted, an applicant must participate in and complete a challenging, but engaging, 18-week training program that meets once a week on Thursdays from January through mid-May, primarily at the College of Marin IVC campus in Novato.

    Being a UC Marin Master Gardener is a commitment, but ask any one of us and you will find out that the time and effort is more than rewarding.