Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

You too can become a master gardener

By Vaseline May27,2024

So, what kind of people become master gardeners? Do they have a lot of prior experience? What about knowledge, time and energy?

Coincidentally, the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County has a Master Gardener Volunteer (MGV) program with something for just about everyone. It really doesn’t matter how much you know, or don’t know! You still fit in.

What you do need is enthusiasm and the willingness to share your interests.

Let’s take a look at two master gardeners who have been involved with the program for several years: Mary Anne Lorenz and Lucas Russell.

Mary Anne didn’t discover gardening until she was in college. As she put it, “I took a Botany course as part of a biology major and fell in love with plants.”

Lucas’s interest in gardening began when he was about five years old and started a garden with his father. He remembers that they didn’t have much “success.”

“I was focused on growing attractive weeds. I remember a large sorrel plant; and the vegetable garden produced a watermelon the size of a baseball, a misshapen cucumber and wormy sunflower seeds.

Like many MG volunteers, they had both started some sort of garden before they first heard about the program. Lucas pointed out that his indoor “garden” was in the form of a large houseplant collection.

Those who participate in the program begin by taking a series of classes on all elements of gardening. They soon learn all about flowers, herbs, vegetables, soil, pollinators, weather, plants, growing and harvesting.

About her own garden, Mary Anne said: “It has improved so much since I started learning with the MGV program. Learning is my favorite part.”

But it’s not just classroom learning. New volunteers go out and work in the Extension Gardens. They ‘get their hands dirty’ by working with other gardeners who are happy to share their expertise.

“Working with other gardeners was a new experience (and a lot of fun),” Lucas said. “The fun and efficiency of working as a team allows us to complete larger projects with greater ease. It feels special to be among so many talented people.”

Interested? View the Become a Master Gardener Volunteer brochure online at Then submit a request for an interview with an MGV coordinator before July 31, 2024. You can contact Holly Wise at 315-736-3394 ext. 1-125 or email [email protected].

Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County is answering home and garden questions that can be emailed to [email protected] or call 315-736-3394, press 1 and ext. 333. Leave your question, name and telephone number. Questions are answered on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Also visit our website at or call 315-736-3394, press 1 then ext. 100.

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