The University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s 2010 – 2011 Master Gardener Volunteer Program for Knox-Lincoln and Waldo Counties will be starting in early October.

This year’s program will focus on ornamentals. Classes will be from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. on most Tuesday and Thursday afternoons until Nov. 23. They’ll be held at the UMaine Extension offices in Waldoboro and Waldo. In the spring of 2011, the training will continue with a minimum of two hands-on workshops. Participants are encouraged to carpool.

Core classes include soil health, composting, basic botany, pest and disease management and volunteerism. Special classes include woody ornamentals and native plants for Maine, invasive plants and sustainable landscaping practices, the basics of garden design, annuals and perennials for Midcoast Maine and more.

After completing 12 classes, an open book exam and two spring workshops (which are chosen by the class), participants are required to give 40 hours of volunteer time to their communities. There are many ways for trainees to share and further develop their gardening knowledge — school gardening programs, Plant-A-Row for the Hungry campaigns, demonstration gardens, researching and writing articles, giving presentations, partnering with garden clubs on education and civic beautification, answering home gardening calls for the Cooperative Extension, to name just a few.

After Master Gardener Volunteers become certified, they receive advanced training opportunities, newsletters, and are invited to audit the following year’s classes on fruits and vegetables at no cost. Volunteers can maintain yearly certification with as little as 20 hours and most continue to do great work in their communities for years.

The cost of the program is based on a sliding scale between $110 and $330 and includes a large reference manual and hand-outs from specialists.

If you’re interested in becoming a Master Gardener Volunteer, please call or e-mail for a program description and application. Class size is limited, so we will accept applicants on a first come first serve basis and a clear indication that the applicant is committed to the volunteer component of the program.

For more information, please contact: The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Knox-Lincoln Office. 800-244-2104 or 832-0343 or e-mail elizabeth.stanley@maine.edu.