TN Extension Master Gardener in Training
by Emily Fulmer, Grower Outreach Coordinator at AmpleHarvest.org
Jack (or Jane, really) of all trades, master of none. That’s how I’ve often described myself. I grow a vegetable garden, I keep some chickens, I play musical instruments, I’m raising a couple of kids, I can check the oil and change the tires on my car, but I would never claim to be an expert in any of these areas. Most of the time I feel like I’m just trying to make sure everyone survives the day.
In the coming year, I hope to change that to Jane of all trades–master of ONE. I’ve just embarked on the journey to becoming coming a Master Gardener! (Not sure what a Master Gardener is? Read my earlier post about it here). I went to my first class yesterday at the Shelby County, Tennessee Agricultural Extension office with about 60 other eager “wannabe” MGs. Each was handed a green tote bag with the Tennessee Extension Master Gardener Handbook–or as I think I’m going to call it the TN gardening bible. This thing is HUGE, and as we each stood up to introduce ourselves to the class, it was all I could do to keep myself from cracking it open to start reading.
The introductions, though they took a long time, were pretty incredible. Most of my classmates are retired or almost retired, and I’m pretty sure my kids are younger than all of their grandkids…but no one tried to pinch my cheeks or anything. What struck me was how many of them said they grew up on a farm or came from a long line of farmers–despite that, they still couldn’t figure out why their tomato plants were dying. That made me feel a lot less insecure about my MANY garden failings.
It’s not going to be easy to finish this–14 classes spread over as many weeks, 40 volunteer hours, 8 continuing education units, homework and tests–but I think it’s so worth it. I’ll be learning so much, I’ll be meeting so many people, and I’ll be volunteering at gardens across the county to earn this title of Master Gardener. Like most things, I’m sure I’ll find that the more I know, the more I’ll realize all that I don’t know. Perhaps that’s the true meaning of “Master”–to realize that the depth of knowledge is endless and so the quest for knowledge continues. I’ll be posting regularly about my journey and I hope you’ll join me.