Florida Master Gardener Program

During Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival, master gardeners staff the Garden Information Desk on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The festival runs through May 29. / Courtesy of Disney World

I was originally introduced to the Florida Master Gardener Program while I was visiting a South Florida urban farm some time back. On hearing the term, I immediately thought it was a prestigious title given only to those who have studied environmental sciences, horticulture, or some related field with an emphasis on Florida’s ecosystem.

Research led me to a training course offered by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Cooperative Extension offices — better known as UF/IFAS. The Florida¬†Master Gardener Program, which started in 1979, is an intensive training program where accepted participants will, for a nominal fee, receive 50 hours or more of practical horticultural training on various subjects that pertain directly to our Florida environment.

UF/IFAS extension offices provide training, resource materials and hands-on experiences to program participants — in exchange for their commitment to help extension offices optimize their outreach to the communities they serve.

Sticking close to home

Although our Florida Food & Farm office is in Palm Beach County, in downtown Lake Worth, I reside in Broward. Due to the nature of the program, I decided that applying for the Broward County Master Gardeners Program would be a far better fit for me to successfully perform the ongoing commitment to my extension office once I became certified.

I’m three generations removed from an out-of-state family farm that, today, is a large tract of wild-growing, beautiful land. I work for Florida Food & Farm, a company that was established specifically to help small-scale growers and producers better connect to those interested in their products and services.

I enjoy spending time with those who earn a living getting their hands dirty: They’re built from a fabric that I admire; and I feel, too often, that such people go unnoticed. I believe that if we all spent more time digging in the dirt, we’d have a better understanding of what really matters: our health, family, friends and communities; and the relationships between and among them.

Wins acceptance to Florida Master Gardener Program

It made perfect sense for me to apply, interview and, hopefully, gain acceptance in to the 2017 Broward County Master Gardeners Program. Well, I’m thrilled to announce that I was accepted, and I’m excited about sharing my weekly journey through the Florida Master Gardener Program with you.

Master gardeners benefit their communities and help UF/IFAS reach more citizens by delivering research-based information in a variety of ways: answering public questions, addressing concerns, providing lectures, creating gardens, conducting research, and participating in various community projects.

Florida Food & Farm staff member Amanda Gorney is taking classes in Broward County.