November and December are my down months. Typically, this is the time of year when I can catch up on all the things
that got buried on my desk; the time when the phone calls regarding horticulture tend to slack off; the time when I
have no events or workshops planned.
December tends to be the reporting month - you know, the time when you realize you should have been recording
information all year but never got the energy to do so. Therefore, you spend countless hours digging through the
aforementioned papers on the desk getting attendee numbers and evaluation scores from the last 30 events.
Now that's a way to get in the holiday spirit.
Fortunately, there are a couple of things I really look forward to this time of year (other than mashed potatoes and
stuffing), and that is hearing about what Colorado Master Gardener volunteers did for projects, and to get ready for
the 2010 Master Gardener class.
For those of you who don't know, or who may be interested, the Colorado Master Gardener program is statewide with
more than 1,000 volunteers. Locally, we have about 75 active volunteers, with the emphasis on being active.
So far in 2009, volunteers completed more than 3,200 hours of service dedicated to horticultural-related activities.
Projects ranged from developing a butterfly garden at a local school, to teaching children about our ecosystem, to
collecting food for our food banks and kitchens.
Additionally, without these volunteers many events - the booth at the Durango Farmers Market, the Iron Horse Chef, the Tour de Farms, Small Acreage and Weed Management symposiums, the Homegrown Festival, and the Get Growing column
in the Durango Herald - would not be as successful.
Countless volunteer hours were also spent at our local vegetable gardens. Manna Soup Kitchen, Shared Harvest and La
Boca Center for Sustainability all used the knowledge and eagerness of the students. Throughout my programming, I
place a strong emphasis on the "locavore" movement, so the more volunteers who jump on that bandwagon the better.
If all of this sounds interesting, then I would highly recommend you looking into the program because it isn't all
It is also about learning. And believe you me, you will learn more about plants, soil, botany, landscape design, and
insect and disease diagnosis than you ever thought possible during the 10-week course.
Starting Jan. 21, we will meet from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays. Because that is a long day of learning, we try
to provide a mixture of presentations, group and class discussions, hands-on activities and labs. You will be
learning from local experts as well as experts from across the state within the Colorado State University Extension
The cost is only $180, but the knowledge, resources and friendships you acquire make this one of the best deals of
the year. Plus, you get to spend a whole day with me, which is worth the money right there!
Let me know if you're interested - the deadline is the end of the month.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6464.
Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.