A Long Row to Hoe


On Tuesday, I graduated. Again. It was a smaller affair this time, sans caps and gowns. The coveted prize was to trade in the paper name tag we clung to all year for the official orange Oregon state-shaped Marion County Master Gardener badge. And I made it! Yes, it was a long row to hoe–quite literally–and we had one of the largest graduating classes ever (35). In fact, I had initially been turned away and put on the list for 2013 since there was no more room in the room.

Becoming a certified Master Gardener takes a lot of dedication and a lot of hard work. We started in January, attending class every Monday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and continued through March. We received a humongous binder of information (to rival Mitt Romney’s binders of women I’m sure), covering topics such as soils and fertilizers, basic entomology, weed management, woody landscape plants, and so on. After that, we had to fulfill 60+ volunteer hours: some hours in the garden, other hours in various roles in the community–from working at the local Food Share, to educating children in schools, or helping with community gardens–to name a few. The bulk of hours was spent at the extension office “help desk,” fielding phone calls from the community, or walk-ins with their gigantic spiders in jars or SWD ravaged blueberries. Sometimes it was a stretch, but I almost always learned something, which I think, was the point. It also felt good to be giving back to the community.

I know you are all dying to know: Now that I have finished the coursework and attained my badge, do I feel like a “master” gardener? Sorry to say, quite the opposite. As I heard a classmate remark at the graduation, “Now we know how much it is that we don’t know.” But as I learned working the help desk, I am certainly better at knowing where to find the answers.

It was a worthy accomplishment, and I’m glad I did it. Oh, and I won one of the door prizes: a three foot tall eucalyptus subcrenulata. (Which I don’t have room for, but should make a lovely Christmas gift.) 🙂

4 comments on “A Long Row to Hoe

  1. Like I tell people when they say “Master Gardener ?” “Yes weedhopper,and yet, The further one travels on this journey the further one realizes there is yet to travel before he can consider himself indeed a true “Master”. I’ve enjoyed reading the Seed Saver
    series and have recommended them to fellow MGs (a lot of whom are former teachers)
    and especially to our Special Interest Group within the Master Gardeners ,” The Vegucators ” (sometimes referred to as “the lunatic fringe group”) …yes …mostly seed savers and the like…We do have some very lively presentations and discussions!
    I look forward to hearing more about your groups .

    • Thanks for commenting, Wes. Where are you located? I didn’t keep up very closely with the official gardeners, but I am part of a seed saver group at our local food share. We grow out veggies and have a seed bank there. I’m happy to hear that you have read the Seed Savers books (one more still coming!) and passed on the info. Don’t forget to sign up for the email updates if you are so inclined. 🙂

      • I live near New Orleans . Near Mandeville on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain .
        Is “Keeper” the last book of the series ? I bought it after I finished the first set.
        We hold several seminars throughout the year as well as keeping up gardens and flower beds at schools and libraries and each spring we have a big garden and plant show /sale to raise money for the scholarships we award to graduating seniors going into horticulture or ag. Keeps me busy in my retirement.

      • Wes, Keeper is the last completed book in the series. There will be one more. Wonderful that your group gives scholarships to young people going into horticulture or ag! I see you signed up for the newsletter. I just sent one out the day before, so it might be awhile before the next one goes out. Mostly it was telling that Lily is on sale for 99 cents and a link to the book trailer for Lily. You can also get that information from my latest blog posts…

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