If one were to say – completely hypothetically, of course – that I may not be the most “organized” person, then there could be a smidgen of truth to that.
That’s not to say that I am forgetful or unreliable. I do use the calendar function on my phone, tablet and computer. But – again, completely hypothetically – if I had an event I was organizing in October, I may not be preparing for it in May or June.
Or even July or August. I hope I would be preparing in September, but that can be a big “if.” And no, that is not procrastination (even though it sure does sound like it). It’s just the way I work.
So when I took over this job way back in 2007 and started to develop my programming of horticulture, agriculture and local food awareness-related events and classes, I felt like I may need some help. And in an ideal world, as someone who is a self-proclaimed driver (let me do it and get out of the way), this “help” would be peripheral and only help where needed.
That’s where my Colorado master gardener volunteers could come in handy: time on their hands, interests similar to mine and a volunteer hour requirement.
Sweet – I can use this time and expertise to my advantage!
What I didn’t count on was everything else they brought to the table: the gift of gab (gardeners love to talk); backgrounds in employee and business management; and (the occasional) knowledge of plants that greatly exceeded mine.
I also didn’t fully grasp the dedication many of these volunteers have to giving back to their community. Members of the Class of 2014 – 19 students in total – are currently finishing their volunteer year and already have given the program more than 1,000 hours of service.
Many of these hours come from Saturday mornings spent at the Durango Farmers Market, but you also can find them at the Needham Elementary School garden, the Manna Soup Kitchen garden and at local demonstration gardens found at the Animas Museum, Durango Public Library or Santa Rita Park. They also have worked at local events such as Tour de Farms, Apple Days and the Homegrown Food Retreat.
I’m not sure in the seven seasons of teaching and coordinating the Master Gardener Program that I have ever had such an active class. The participants have created bonds and friendships with one another and visited each other’s gardens. I’m assuming they will continue to work together long after their 50-hour requirement is over at the end of the year. Because of them, I am looking forward to the 2015 class with hopes it can be just as energetic and helpful.
The Colorado State University Extension Office just released the 2015 applications for the master gardener program. They can be found at www.laplataextension.org, at the last couple of Durango Farmers Markets and in our office at the La Plata County Fairgrounds.
If you are not familiar with the program, students will receive training in tree care, vegetables, soils, plant diseases, insects, native plants, water-wise gardening, pruning and much more. The series, which starts Jan. 29, will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Thursday for 11 weeks at the fairgrounds. The base cost for participants is $170, and they must purchase their class book, The Science of Gardening.
So help me out, won’t you? My administrative assistant and cluttered desk will thank you!
firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.