The Master Gardener Program through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is reporting significant growth in 2022. Alicia Herzog, the program’s coordinator, says more than 440 people were trained statewide last year, which is an increase of 41-percent from the year before.
The program is also reporting more than 100-thousand volunteer hours logged last year by nearly 18-hundred volunteers. Herzog says some people think master gardeners are all about growing flowers and vegetables, which they are, but there’s much more to it.
Herzog says Master Gardeners in Iowa provided more than two-point-two million dollars in services during 2022. The program had been training about 350 people in Iowa every year, but with the doubled-up schedule, it’s hoped well over 400 people will become Master Gardeners every year.
Depending on their available time, some people can finish in less than a year, but many take a full year to complete the training. While gardening is a big part of what Master Gardeners do, Herzog says they also help to educate communities about a variety of horticulture and gardening topics. She calls Master Gardeners “educational stewards” for their communities, as they offer seminars, consult with community groups and help educate and inform the public about access to healthy food. Herzog says it’s much more than just tending a garden.
Herzog says 82 Iowa counties participated in the Master Gardener program in 2022. The Master Gardener Annual Report shows Iowa’s Master Gardeners interacted with more than 200-thousand people last year and assisted the Growing Together Iowa program in donating nearly 115-thousand pounds of produce. This year’s first classes were held earlier this month, with the next training scheduled to begin September 5th. If you’re interested in the fall session, the application period is between July 17th and August 18th. Find out more online at www.extension.iastate.edu/mastergardener/