COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State University Extension Master Gardener volunteers are serious about horticulture -- taking their passion for plants and the environment and passing it on to those they touch through education and community activities. Last year, volunteers committed more than 100,000 hours to community services, impacting more than a quarter of a million residents.
In honor of their hard work and dedication, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has declared May 18-24 as Master Gardener Volunteer Program Week. The proclamation recognizes OSU Extension's efforts in promoting the Master Gardener volunteer program and recognizes the leadership and educational development the program affords to individuals interested in gardening.
"We are really excited to be celebrating the successes of the Master Gardener volunteer programs throughout Ohio's counties," said Pam Bennett, OSU Extension State Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator.
The Master Gardener volunteer program began in Ohio in the 1970s. The program provides intensive training in horticulture to interested individuals who then volunteer their time assisting with educational programs and activities for Ohio residents through their local OSU Extension county office.
The volunteers participate in a variety of activities, including conducting educational programs for consumers on best gardening practices; developing demonstration gardens highlighting best management practices; conducting research on plant varieties recommended for Ohio; working with neighbors in a community garden setting; teaching people how to plant, maintain and harvest a vegetable garden in the city; and continuing to provide outreach for OSU Extension.
"The grassroots efforts taking place in the counties are deserving of the Master Gardener Volunteer Program Week recognition. Volunteers are quietly making a difference in their communities focusing on a variety of quality of life issues," said Bennett. "Volunteers often do their projects with little or no funding; therefore, partnerships are a large component of each program in each county."
In celebration of Master Gardener Volunteer Program Week, Master Gardeners across the state will be holding events and activities during the week of May 18-24. Activities planned include:
• Brown County -- Master Gardener volunteers are redesigning the flowerbeds in front of the Brown County Administration Building. The purpose of the project is to showcase the use of small spaces.
• Butler County -- Master Gardener volunteers will spruce up the kitchen garden at historic Chrisholm Farmstead near Trenton. The kitchen garden includes vegetables, herbs, and berries, and was created to educate visitors and school children about how the 19th century residents relied on natural resources for food, clothing and medicinal remedies. Other activities include: maintaining a tree nursery at Greenlawn Cemetery in Hamilton; sprucing up the walled perennial garden at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park; and upgrading the gardens at the Butler County Historical Museum in Hamilton, Bull's Run Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum in Middletown and Elisha Morgan homestead in Fairfield.
• Clark County -- More than 25 volunteers will celebrate spring by planting over 1,000 annuals on May 22 in the Gateway Learning Gardens at the Clark County Extension office in Springfield. Many of the varieties planted are new to the market and are being tested for their performance in central Ohio gardens. The results are valuable to all gardeners as they indicate what grows best in Ohio landscapes. The gardens are free and open to the public. For more information, log on to http://clark.osu.edu or call (937) 328-4607.
• Clermont County -- Master Gardener volunteers will kick off the week with a Plant Sale and Educational Day at the Owensville Fairgrounds May 17 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. For more information, contact the Clermont County Extension office at (513) 732-7070.
• Fairfield County -- Master Gardener volunteers will continue the Backyard Gardener Series -- a free public education garden series held on the third Thursday of each month. The series travels to many of the local greenhouses and garden centers within Fairfield County highlighting timely gardening tips and advice. Topics for the 2008 series include: cool, colorful, crazy containers; tips to help extend bloom time with container plantings; and honey bee education. For more information, contact the Fairfield County Extension office at (740) 653-5419.
• Fayette County -- The public is invited to join Fayette County Master Gardeners in supporting breast cancer research by participating in the fourth annual Sponsor A Pot Program. The Fayette County Master Gardener volunteers design and plant flower pots and install them in downtown Washington Court House to beautify the area. The event takes place on May 20 at 6 p.m. For more information, contact the Fayette County Extension office at (740) 335-1150.
• Greene County -- Master Gardener volunteers will take on green space restoration projects at the Greene County Fairgrounds, including designing and replanting container gardens on the fairgrounds, as well as designing a new daylilies garden for the fairground entrance.
• Hamilton County -- Garden activities will take place at the Delhi Floral Paradise Gardens in Delhi Township from 10 a.m. to noon May 21. Volunteers are asked to bring their gardening tools, gloves, and lunch. Dessert will be offered. Following lunch, Tim Sisson from the Western Wildlife Corridor will give a talk on the importance of land conservation, land trusts, and native plants and wildflowers. For more information, contact the Hamilton County Extension office at (513) 946-8989 or Peggy Berninger at (513) 763-0016.
• Henry County -- Master Gardener volunteers will participate in a beautification project with the Napoleon Chamber of Commerce. The event, taking place on May 23, will involve arranging planters at all major intersections in the community of Napoleon, Ohio.
• Huron County -- Huron County Master Gardeners will kick off the week with their annual plant sale on May 17. Volunteers will also begin a beautification project of the Huron County Building. Activities culminate with the annual downtown beautification event on May 24. For more information, contact the Huron County Extension office at (419) 668-8219.
• Montgomery County -- Montgomery County Master Gardener volunteers celebrate volunteer week with the annual planting of the Public Gardens of Washington Township in cooperation with the Washington Township Visual Improvement Committee.
• Richland County -- Richland County Master Gardener volunteers will be participating in Mansfield's Bicentennial Celebration by assisting various civic groups in planting red, white and blue landscapes around the city. The Master Gardener volunteers will teach proper planting techniques and will help with design, layout and maintenance of the gardens throughout the summer. For more information on horticulture projects related to Mansfield's Bicentennial Celebration, contact the Richland County Extension office at (419) 747-8755.
• Stark County: Stark County Master Gardener volunteers will kick off Master Gardener Volunteer Week with the Stark County Master Gardener Plant Expo on May 17 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Stark County Fairgrounds Exhibition Building, located at 305 Wertz Ave. in Canton. The Stark County Master Gardener Plant Expo will include sales of perennials, heirloom plants, native Ohio plants, vegetables and hanging annual baskets. Proceeds will benefit educational and community outreach programs sponsored by the organization. For more information, contact the Stark County Extension office at (330) 830-7700.
More than 3,100 Master Gardeners volunteer their time and services in 67 Ohio counties. To learn more about the OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer program, log on to http://mastergardener.osu.edu, or contact Pam Bennett at (937) 328-4607 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.