County of Monmouth

For Immediate Release:
December 6, 2018

Monmouth County Master Gardener Program Celebrates 20 Years
Diane Larson, the Master Gardener Program Coordinator, Receives Proclamation for her Dedication to the Program

FREEHOLD, NJ – The Monmouth County Master Gardener Program recently celebrated 20 years of providing horticultural and gardening information to the local community, with the graduation of its 20th class, consisting of 30 graduates.

“We are proud to celebrate 20 years of amazing work by the Monmouth County Master Gardeners,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Lillian G. Burry. “The growth of this active volunteer program has been incredible to watch. The work of the Master Gardeners has not only beautified our community but offers our residents an enriching horticultural experience.”

In response to requests from home gardeners for horticultural information, Monmouth County, the Monmouth County Parks System, Brookdale Community College and Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Monmouth County partnered together to start the Master Gardener program in 1999. The program is responsible for training volunteers to diagnose plant problems, suggest good cultural practices for gardens and advise gardeners to the best care for home landscape.

For the past 20 years, the Master Gardener program has been led by Diane Larson, Horticulturist and Rutgers Master Gardener Coordinator. With Larson’s oversight, the program has trained 564 volunteers to be Master Gardeners, who have completed more than 230,000 volunteer hours in Monmouth County and responded to more than 2,000 horticultural inquiries from the local community through the Garden Helpline.

“The Monmouth County Master Gardener program would not be what it is today without the leadership of Diane Larson,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Burry. “I was proud to present her with a Proclamation to honor her hard work and dedication to cultivating the Master Gardener program into a premier volunteer program in Monmouth County.”

The Plant a Row for the Hungry (PAR) garden was started in 2006 by the Master Gardeners and Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Monmouth County in response to a national initiative by the Association for Garden Communicators, which encouraged all gardeners to dedicate a row of their garden to produce for local food banks and food pantries. The PAR garden has produced more than 30,000 pounds of food for local food pantries in Monmouth County, including Open Door in Freehold and Lunch Break in Red Bank.

The Monmouth County Master Gardeners are also involved in 18 different community gardens in Monmouth County, where they have grown and harvested nearly 19,000 pounds of food for local food pantries.

In order to become a Monmouth County Master Gardener, individuals must live in Monmouth County and complete at least 60 hours of training classes. After training is completed, individuals are required to fulfill the required 60 volunteer hours through the horticulture helpline and other horticulture methods. Those interested in becoming a certified Master Gardener must complete the 2019 application by Wednesday, January 2, 2019. For more information on Monmouth County’s Master Gardener program, please call (732) 431-7260.
 
 
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