A Master Gardener is a community volunteer with a required basic level of horticultural knowledge. We are required to volunteer in our communities and to continue to learn about garden-related issues.

The University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program started in 1977 with its first class of 25 people. Since then, it has grown to include more than 2,300 active Master Gardeners in almost every county of the state of Minnesota. The mission of the program is to use research-based horticultural knowledge and practices to deliver educational outreach and project-based efforts that inspire change and promote healthy people, healthy communities, and a healthy planet.

Don’t worry if you feel you need to know more to participate. The University of Minnesota Extension has a course that will provide you with the knowledge to become a certified Master Gardener. The course is available as in-person classes, online classes or as a combination on online and in-person. The Becker County Masters Gardeners also provide mentoring for new Master Gardener Interns.

Here in Becker County, our local Master Gardeners and their knowledge can be found on TV3 (Ramblin’ Rose program), at the Extension Office (Plant and Pest Clinic, where we help people get answers to gardening questions), at the Detroit Lakes Community Garden (which we sponsor/manage in conjunction with the city), at the Becker County Fair (where we have walk-by learning displays every year), at our annual plant sale (where we are happy to talk plants), bi-monthly gardening articles in the Detroit Lakes Tribune, and providing various educational opportunities in the community.

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Our Becker County members have many reasons why they became involved with the MG program. Some simply wanted to have more information and know-how to create a thriving garden in the challenging MN climate, some have retired from their paying jobs and were looking for a way to volunteer/give back to the community, and yet others just really love learning and helping others to learn. Because gardening includes a myriad of plants — as well as reasons to grow them — learning seems a key reason to become a Master Gardener. There are also the related concepts of soil health, local food, pollinators, sustainable landscaping, land and water stewardship, and the socials aspect of gardening which bring us all together as Master Gardeners. We also have a Facebook page at facebook.com/beckercountymastergardeners.

If you would like more information about the Master Gardener program you can find information on the U of MN Extension website at https://sites.google.com/umn.edu/mgweb/home. There is an application online that you can fill out and it is sent directly to the State MG Office. Applications are due by midnight on Oct. 1. Application review will begin on Oct. 2 and applicants will be notified of their acceptance into the program by Dec. 1. For more information you may call Linda Perrine, Becker County Master Gardener coordinator, at 218-846-7328, or stop by the the Becker County Extension Office, 1120 8th St. SE, Detroit Lakes.