Master Gardeners grow interest
VICTORY GARDEN East Mississippi Master Gardeners Shirley Henson, left, Jessie Everett and Coralie Richardson look after the plants and vegetables in the Victory Garden at 19th Street and 23rd Avenue. The public will be able to hear Roger Swain, host of PBS-TV's "Victory Garden" program at 2 p.m. today in Kahlmus Auditorium at Mississippi State University-Meridian Campus. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
July 19, 2002
Coinciding with a Smithsonian exhibition of World War II posters, more than 170 Master Gardeners from across the state are in Meridian for the organization's state conference "Victory Gardening … for the Young at Heart."
The victory garden theme complements "Produce for Victory: Posters on the American Home Front, 1941-1945," on display from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibit Service at the Railroad Express Agency building adjacent to Union Station.
The two-day conference began Thursday at Mississippi State University-Meridian Campus, with guest speakers who talked about ways to grow gardening interest among youth. Thursday's session ended with a banquet featuring guest speaker Roger Swain, host of PBS-TV's "The Victory Garden."
The conference will conclude today with a board meeting of current and newly-elected board members; presentations on gardening by Gail Barton, program coordinator for horticulture at Meridian Community College, and Norman L. Winter, extension horticulturist for MSU.
Tom Walters, 65, of Meridian, is a retired safety engineer and president of the Mississippi Master Gardener Association. His interest in gardening came from personal experiences with victory gardens as a child during World War II.
He said when he went to college he learned there were easier things to do. He didn't garden again for 20 years.
Now, Walters is more interested in growing flowers than vegetables.
Coralie Richardson, 65, is a retired registered nurse and president of the local MMGA chapter, East Mississippi Master Gardeners. She has been exposed to gardening all her life because her father was an agriculture teacher.
Richardson, who grows blueberries, strawberries and perennials, said she gardened by trial and error until she found out about the Master Gardener courses.
The common theme among Master Gardeners, according to Steve Strong, Lauderdale County extension agent, is that they enjoy working with their hands to create beautiful and functional things.
He said the local program, which began in 1990, stems from the reorganization and downsizing of extension programs over the years.
JUST THE FACTS
How to become a "Master Gardener" and what they do:
Complete a 10-week course offered through the Mississippi State University Extension Service. The classes are usually free.
Promise to work at least 40 hours in community service with other Master Gardeners.
After training, Master Gardeners inform the general public about gardening and answer their questions.
Their group raises money for community service projects through an annual Spring Plant Sale.
Contact the Lauderdale County Extension Service at 482-9764 for more information or to find out when the next Master Gardener course will be offered.