Northwest Master Gardeners celebrate 10 years

Linda Benedict, Van Osdell, Mary Ann  |  7/2/2008 9:20:26 PM

SHREVEPORT - The Northwest Louisiana Master Gardener Association celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2008. Since it began, 343 gardening enthusiasts have been certified to educate and beautify their communities.

LSU AgCenter horticulture agent Joe White, now retired, started the Master Gardener program in Shreveport in 1998. Since 2003, the program has been coordinated by Denyse Cummins.

"Dr. White was the catalyst that glued us together by gentle persuasion, by expert knowledge and by example of what good gardeners do and are," said Lou Osborn, a member of the first class. "We owe him a hearty clap on the back for all that he taught us."

Bob Souvestre, LSU AgCenter state coordinator, said the Master Gardener program was initiated in Louisiana in 1994. Now there are more than 1,000 active participants all over the state. He expects two more groups to start in 2008.

The Northwest Association has many activities, including staffing a Master Gardener hotline that provides answers to gardeners’ telephone questions. The Master Gardeners also produce "The Seedling," a monthly newsletter, organize an annual April plant sale and coordinate the Le Tour des Jardins spring tour of area gardens.

Mary Lipsey, another member of the association, said the tour is the major fundraiser for the group.

These funds are used to improve the Shreveport area. A recent accomplishment has been the completion of the gardens and greenhouse at the Randle T. Moore Center in Shreveport.

Master Gardener classes take place at the Moore Center for 45 hours over 10 weeks and include lecture and hands-on activities. Topics include basic botany, soil, insect control, plant disease, fruit and vegetable culture, lawn care and weed science. Applications are taken all year long for a class of 30 that begins every January, Cummins said.

Upon graduation, there is a 40-hour volunteer commitment within one year from the end of training. In 2007, that amounted to 9,582 hours, Cummins said.
Mary Ann Van Osdell

(This article was published in the spring 2008 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)

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