Grieving as Master Gardener Classes End

It’s hard for us to believe, but we’re about to finish the classes that form the heart of our Master Gardener training. We’re not ready for them to end. Not ready at all!

When we started that first Thursday in September, going to class every Thursday morning stretched ahead of us as a virtually unlimited commitment of our future. Now we’re hard upon the last class (December 9). Amanda has been aware all along how quickly the classes would end; I am only now realizing it. And I’m just not ready.

First, we have enjoyed getting to know all the members of our little class of interns and becoming close friends with many of them. There has never been a Thursday morning when both of us were not genuinely eager to get to class and see them. Second, the classes have brought us shoulder to shoulder with several veteran Master Gardeners, and we’ve realized that they are some of the finest, most selfless, most loving humans we could ever hope to find. And they know so much!

You can say that we just need to quit whining and stay in touch with those folks, and we will make an effort to do that. But you know and we know that those relationships will become less important when we’re not meeting every Thursday. So pardon me while I sniffle.

The third reason for our grieving is that we’re not smart enough. We need to keep learning. The Master Gardener classes have been wonderfully organized and taught by genuine experts, so that each class has been an adventure of new ideas and clearing up misconceptions. We are grateful for what we have learned, but we are painfully aware of how incomplete our knowledge is. Amanda and I are exploring now what would be required for us to study to be Advanced Master Gardeners. This is an additional level of recognition for those Master Gardeners who commit to focus on learning about a particular subject so they can teach about it to others.

It’s too soon to say, but in our perfect world we would focus on organic home production of fruits and vegetables. We know that if we persist in our work at Longleaf Breeze that we will become more knowledgeable about this each year. We also know that we have always foreseen a teaching function for Longleaf Breeze, so this would fit right in with that.

We also know that organic production is more challenging in Alabama’s hot, humid climate than it is in other parts of the country, so it’s easy for gardeners in Alabama to get discouraged about organic growing techniques and whip out the Sevin dust. So there’s a role to play, we think, for a couple of people like us who can demonstrate that you can grow food without using a bunch of poisons to do it. Food without poison. What a concept!

We also know that Alabama’s regional extension agents (almost all trained at Auburn University) understand that they don’t know as much as they would like about organic production techniques and that more home-scale gardeners are interested in growing organically, so we think the extension agents would welcome our learning and teaching about organic growing techniques for the small-scale grower.

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