Master Gardeners spend quality time outdoors, specifically helping friends and neighbors grow food, or landscaping with techniques that save time and money.  Master Gardeners have access to training, resources, and horticulture expertise through Mississippi State Extension. There are currently 13 Master Gardeners in Neshoba County who enjoy working with others and will welcome you to the East Mississippi Master Gardener Association.  

The Master Gardener training program begins in Neshoba County on Feb. 20, 1-5 p.m. and continues each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon through March 27th. Classes are interactive via distance education on soils, weed science, insects, plant propagation, fruits, nuts, and vegetable gardening taught by Mississippi State University horticulture instructors and specialists. Classes finish in time for spring gardening projects to begin.

The first Master Gardener program began in Washington State, in King and Pierce counties, in 1972. Dr. David Gibby, the Extension agent for horticulture in those counties, was overwhelmed by the volume of requests for information about gardening coming into his office. Gibby thought of finding gardeners who would be able and willing to answer the public's questions, and came up with the idea of trading specialized training in horticulture for a commitment to spend a specified number of hours doing volunteer outreach work.

The cost of enrolling in Mississippi’s Master Gardener program is $100. While this is a one-time expense, interns in training receive a horticulture manual that any gardener would envy.  After training and volunteering 40 hours the first year as an intern, national certification as a Master Gardener is awarded.

This achievement includes invitations to conferences, workshops, garden tours and special events. Plant swaps, garden tours, and community gardening projects are planned locally.

In Neshoba County, we truly appreciate our Master Gardeners. They have donated more than 450 volunteer hours this year assisting with local projects at the courthouse, library, coliseum, and schools.  As Extension agents, we sometimes get more requests for garden programs, school talks, and tomato troubleshooting than time allows.

Having trained volunteers make Philadelphia and Neshoba County a greener, more beautiful place to live. So, would you like to be a Master Gardener?

Please come by the Extension office in the Neshoba County coliseum on Hwy 15 North to enroll, or give us a call at 601-656-4011. Deadline to register is Feb. 9.