Hey all- Maria Arnot here in Williamson, WV. After two years of begging the WV State Master Gardener coordinator to help us get a Master Gardener program going here in Mingo- we have finally gotten our wish. Mingo County is one that does not have an agriculture extension agent. Every time that we host workshops, we have to borrow the extension agents from neighboring counties. Many times, these experts have traveled all the way from WVU (Morgantown) to host workshops- and we really are forever grateful for these opportunities. However at the same time, it has definitely  posed as a dilemma because our community is at a point where there really is a demand for one.

workshops 4 mushrooms

Workshops such as this Shiitake Mushroom demonstration is an example of a workshop that has drawn a wide number of people

And now, WVU is hooking us up again. Mira helped line up all the speakers and has walked us through the entire process of getting the program started here in Mingo. The WVU Extension Master Gardener Program provides people interested in gardening with the opportunity to expand their knowledge and sharpen their skills by taking part in basic and advanced training programs that provide in-depth training in various aspects of horticulture. Topics include basic Botany, Soils & Composting, Plant Diseases, Entomology, Fruit Production, Vegetable Production and more. The cost of the Mingo County program is $90, which includes a huge text book, certification and name tags. This is the first class that we have charged this much for, so I wasn’t sure how well it was going to do.

To my surprise, we had 28 PEOPLE register for this 12-week course. Our first course was last week, and our second class will be held tonight. One cool idea that I wanted to share with you all though is our incentive program. For every grant that we write – small or large—we write in incentives into the budget. This year we have been trying to specifically target youth and veterans (by working with Growing Warriors) and so have been writing incentives specifically for these groups.

After we found out that we were getting this program, we immediately reached out to our growing warrior’s site coordinator (Jason Linkenhoker) who rallied up SEVEN veterans that are now signed up for the course. Additionally, our partner at the Williamson Housing Authority agreed to write FIVE scholarships to low-income housing residents – and she easily filled those spaces.

Having such a unique group- veterans, low income housing residents, garden club members  etc. all in one room talking about agriculture is going to be something really special in our community. Hopefully this will spark some good conversations and continue the local food momentum in Mingo county!

master gardenering first course

This was taken during the first master gardener class last week!