Knoxville County Extension Master Gardeners recognized four impressive volunteers at its Jan. 13 awards dinner.
Michael Smith, Cathy Carpenter and Barbra Bunting received awards for more than 500 hours of volunteer service for 2019. Marsha Lehman, who heads up group’s speakers bureau, received an award for more than 1,000 hours of volunteer service.
Smith serves as project leader of the Community Garden on the grounds of Concord United Methodist Church in Farragut, which provides fresh produce to area food pantries. Carpenter was the master gardeners’ secretary for 2019. Bunting was 2019 president.
Knox County Extension Master Gardeners is a volunteer component of the jointly administered University of Tennessee Extension of the UT Institute of Agriculture and Tennessee State University. The mission of Master Gardeners is to serve and help educate the community in home horticulture.
Certified Master Gardeners must complete an intense, 40-hour training course and exam, as well as an equivalent number of volunteer service hours and eight hours of continuing education. The volunteer service and continuing education minimums must be met each year to maintain certification.
The training course covers science-based training in botany and plant physiology, residential soil management, turfgrass management in Tennessee, entomology and integrated pest management, plant diseases, soil science and plant nutrition, designing home landscapes and a range of other topics important to assist and educate Knox County home gardeners in starting, growing and maintaining successful gardens.
Members provide their volunteer services in 16 area projects that include the Ask a Master Gardener program, in which anyone may call into the UT Extension office to receive information to help them with their particular gardening problem. Master Gardeners can also be found at area Farmers Markets.
Knox County currently has 165 certified Master Gardener members who provided 13, 511 hours of volunteer service in 2019. That’s the equivalent of 6.5 full-time employees. Volunteers drove enough miles in Knox County during the year to reach around the world twice.
At Monday’s awards dinner, 70 other members received certificates for their 2019 service, including 24 receiving multi-year service badges.
The state award-winning speakers bureau, under the leadership of Lehman, presents regular programs at Cedar Bluff and Bearden branch libraries, the Davis Family Y in Farragut and Karns Senior Center.
The schedule for programs and information about becoming a Master Gardener are available here.
Harold Duckett is an architect, a reviewer of plays and music, and a Master Gardener.