The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteer program will begin Tuesday, Oct. 2, in the Belfast area. This fall, the training will cover the art and science of horticulture, focusing on ornamentals. Participants who are (or become) members of the Belfast Garden Club and complete 40 hours of volunteer time through the club’s educational and civic beautification projects will be reimbursed $100 in tuition. (Forty-plus hours of instruction costs $110, $220 or $330, based on income.)

Master Gardener classes will be held on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 12:30- 4 p.m. and will run from Oct. 2 into mid-November. They’ll be held at the Waldo Extension office, Hutchinson Center, and at the Belfast Garden Club’s home base. Core classes include an introduction to Cooperative Extension and its volunteer outreach to the people of Maine, Building Healthy Soil, Composting and Organic Matter, Basic Botany, Integrated Pest and Disease Management, Risks and Benefits of Pesticides, and Volunteer Projects in Waldo County. Special ornamental classes include Sustainable Landscaping Practices, Woody Ornamentals, Annuals and Perennials for Maine, Garden Design and more. Participants will have access to a new online manual, which will be continuously updated by Extension specialists.

Training will continue in the spring and early summer of 2013 with three hands-on workshops chosen by participants. Popular sessions include: making twiggy arbors and trellises, pruning trees and shrubs, visits to commercial nurseries and UMaine Extension research gardens, field biology and invasive plant identification, weed management, hardscape design and implementation, season extension, edible landscaping, plant propagation and other topics based on the group’s suggestions.

After training, Master Gardeners volunteer in schools, city parks and community gardens, do educational talks and demonstrations, grow, glean and distribute vegetables for those in need, and more. After 40 hours of volunteer time, they’re certified and may continue with as little as 20 hours in following seasons to remain active. Active Master Gardeners receive advanced training opportunities and ongoing news about volunteer and educational programs.

To receive an application, contact Liz Stanley, UMaine Extension Horticulture Coordinator, at 832-0343, ext. 13, or Applications are due by Sept. 24. UMaine Extension programs are open and accessible to all in accordance with program goals. To allow adequate time to respond to your request, provide as much notice as possible.