The Purdue Master Gardener Program trains garden enthusiasts as volunteers to assist Purdue Extension with home horticulture education in Indiana communities. Those who complete the Purdue MG Basic Training and pass the exam are considered Master Gardener interns. To be certified as a Purdue Master Gardener, you must give back to your community by volunteering at least 35 hours.
The projects you work on must be approved in advance by the Master Gardener county coordinator. Here are some of the projects underway in Boone County, Indiana. New project ideas are always welcomed.
To remain active, each year a Purdue Master Gardener must volunteer for a minimum of 12 hours and report activity to the Master Gardener county coordinator.
Once the Purdue Master Gardener has fulfilled his or her volunteer hour commitment for the initial certification, the individual is eligible to work toward Advance Purdue Master Gardener certification. This advanced certification requires at least 10 hours of approved additional instruction and a minimum of 25 hours additional volunteer service.
Other Advanced Master Gardener certification levels include Bronze, Silver, and Gold. The Gold level further recognizes those who have volunteered 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, and 5,000 hours. Advanced Master Gardeners who earn Gold Level – 1,000 hours will be recognized at the Annual Purdue Master Gardener State Conference. These hours are cumulative over multiple years.
Boone County Community Gardens
Mission: Grow a sustainable network of gardens to educate, eat well, and create a thriving community.
At least 2,250 children in Boone County (13.8 percent) do not know where their next meal will come from. Facing food insecurity and a rising rate of obesity, several community and faith-based organizations wanted to start community gardens, but did not know how. Two such gardens were underway, but disconnected from the community.
A meeting to design a new garden funded through a grant resulted in the implementation of a system of four community gardens providing over 3,750 pounds of produce to local pantries and feeding programs in 2018.
Education was a focus. Over 50 Boys & Girls Club summer campers learned hands-on gardening from high school FFA students, while 13 community organizations gardened and delivered food to local pantries. This was no small feat to organize. We formed the Boone County Community Gardens to oversee this initiative, which ended up being as much about community as food.
If you are a Master Gardener, your work in the Community Gardens counts towards volunteer hours. Our Master Gardeners are the key to tackling this massive effort, but we implemented an adopt-a-week process for 2019 whereby community groups commit to helping in the garden one time for one week. This has provided new connections and more volunteers!
We are looking for volunteers willing to teach gardening topics to our community members, young and old.
Pollinator Demonstration Garden
Look how far we’ve come! This Master Gardener team transformed an overgrown grasses garden at the Boone County 4H Fairgrounds into a pollinator habitat. This took careful planning and some hard work, but the results are amazing.
The garden was planted in May, 2018 and was ready for the 2019 Shalom Garden Tour, a fundraiser for a local feeding program.
You can help maintain the garden, or contact us to learn more about how to share information on local pollinators and the importance of building a suitable habitat. We’ll see you soon!
Habitat for Humanity
The Master Gardeners partner with Habitat for Humanity in Boone County. We develop a landscape plan integrating perennial plants with shrubbery. Then we work with volunteers to prepare the soil and install the plants and sod. In 2018 we were involved in four different projects.
Our projects start with a meeting with the homeowner to discuss their interest. We then visit Perennials Plus, the nursery used by Habitat. A scale drawing is created and we order the plants.
Sara Michaels heads up this fun project. It is an opportunity to use our skills in landscape architecture, and we enjoy helping and encouraging the new homeowners.