Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Test

I'd been thinking about this for years.  I'd been encouraged by others to do it.  I just didn't think I wanted I'd heard about the test.  It was supposed to be a tough test.  And...I didn't want to deal with all of the pesticide, fungicide, herbicide (ad nauseum) issues.

I decided this year that I'd just do it.  Then I broke my foot. I almost decided not to...but then...I had lots of extra time so maybe that test wouldn't be so bad!

I entered the Master Gardeners program through our local extension office in February.  Twice a week, for the next couple of months, Jeremy drove me there and wheeled me into the classroom.

I learned a lot before I even entered the building. I learned that the wheelchair accessible ramp was not accessible since it was behind the parking area - no room between cars to get a wheelchair through...and that large cement border sort of blocked things.  I learned that the door was impossibly heavy for me to hold open and try to wheel myself through with one hand. I learned that there was no bathroom for women that was wheelchair accessible...and I had to be there from 9am to 1pm...and they served yummy food, coffee, tea and drinks each day.

I quickly learned where the Mayor's office was upstairs.  I expressed my views of the problems.  I found out that our Mayor is receptive to suggestions and am now happy to report a new wheelchair parking space next to the wheelchair accessible ramp into the building...which is also now completely accessible.  The men's room was converted into a wheelchair accessible bathroom for all - it's a huge room.  This made classes so much more enjoyable.  The door is still an issue but I'm hoping it's on their list. Just shows you that one voice can make a difference!

Once I got into the classroom, I really enjoyed the classes!  I learned about landscape architecture, fruit trees, vines and bushes, weed control, composting, soil health, perennials, annuals, and yes a bit about all of those "cides"!  Experts in each subject were brought in from the University of Tennessee and from other extension office around the area.  They even had a day devoted to organic agriculture!

The test was open book and not scary at all...and I'm happy to report....

I passed!

Although I received this shirt after passing my test...

I'm considered a "sprout" until I have given 40 hours to continuing education and community service.

I'm well on my way! I spent Saturday afternoon doing a cooking demonstration to show people how to use herbs and spices in their kitchens.  We made herbal tea, herbed vinegar, cheese, butter, lavender glaze and finished up with spices to make homemade taco seasoning and ranch dip mix.  What a fun day!

I spent yesterday volunteering for "Farm Days" which introduced 800 local third graders to all aspects of agriculture.  What an experience.  I loved the part where they used an ultra-sound machine on pregnant cows so the kids could see the babies inside. They were thrilled...the kids...not the cows.  I was praying that they would make the connection to the value of babies in their mommy's tummies.  In fact, the veterinarian told them it was just like when they were in their mommy's tummy!

I'm glad I went through the course.  I'm now working with a great group of men and women and enjoying it all.  If you have any interest in gardening and agriculture, I encourage you to see if your local extension office offers a Master Gardeners course.

Now it is time to get busy in our own garden and get caught up.  We've had so much rain the weeds have taken over!  I'm having "slave for a day" here on Monday if the weather is good.  You come and work (mainly weeding) and while we are working together, I share my knowledge in whatever area you like.  I'm really looking forward to herb border is disappearing under the weed load!

Happy Weeding!

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