Lynne Hagen, University of MN Extension, Master Gardener Program Coordinator-Anoka County
In 1983 Aaron Rodgers was born, Ronald Reagan was president, Microsoft WORD was first released, a Ford Mustang cost $6994 and, with the growing trend in creating beautiful landscapes, the Anoka County Master Gardener (ACMG) program was organized. With a handful of eager volunteers, the Yard and Garden Line was implemented to address the hundreds of calls that came in weekly during the busy growing season.
When the State Master Gardener program was first developed in 1977, the mission was to provide trained and enthusiastic volunteers willing to help University of Minnesota Extension Agents in answering consumer horticulture questions. With such good results, the Anoka County Extension program continues to be one of the most recognized and visible programs in the state.
Today, the ACMG program continues to flourish with over 100 volunteers who are charged with educating youth and adults through a variety of programs and services. Connecting research-based horticulture resources from University of Minnesota, ACMG is addressing issues in our environment that are important for the health and well-being of our communities.
Each spring the ACMG program hosts the Home Landscaping Garden Fair which is a public event providing 17 classes and workshops for adults. Throughout the summer on Wednesday evenings, the “Walk in the Garden” program offers 6 informal classes held in the beautiful Veteran’s Memorial and Peace Garden in Andover. The Plant and Insect Diagnostic clinic runs Wednesday evenings, June through August, where people can meet with Master Gardeners face-to-face and learn how to manage their plant diseases or insects and get their tree or turf questions answered, bringing photos or samples. Master Gardeners also provide gardening advice at local community events, farmers markets and on the state Answer Line, or on the Ask an Expert online site.
Many ACMG volunteers teach classes and camps for youth in partnership with schools or the local 4H program. One of the ACMG schoolyard garden programs was featured as a model program statewide and nationally in 2018. EMGs also provide support for local outreach organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Great River Greening.
Anyone who enjoys gardening, loves learning and is interested in joining the ACMG volunteer program is welcome to attend a “How to Become a Master Gardener” information night event on September 27 from 6:30-8:00 PM at Bunker Hills Activities Center, 550 Bunker Lake Blvd NW, Andover. Online registration is available at www.anokamastergardeners.org for this event or by calling 763-324-3498.
For those who are ready to apply, an online application and other informational materials for the 2019 ACMG program are available at http://www.anokamastergardeners.org/become-a-master-gardener . Applicants accepted in the program will have to submit and pass a confidential background screening and register for the State MG Core Course which is $320.Early bird applicants for the ACMG program will be eligible to receive a $50 rebate. This is an Anoka County MG specific incentive.
Today at the age of 35, the ACMG program continues to welcome new members and expand their services.