Since it was established in 1979 as the first program of its kind in Texas, Montgomery County Master Gardeners has gained about 340 members over the past four decades.
The active volunteer organization, which is a part of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, has brought county residents with an interest in gardening together to become master gardeners, a title which comes with the duties of providing gardening information and education to members of the Montgomery County community.
Mike Mendeck, a member of the Master Gardeners program since 2007, said members go through a seven-week course with Texas A&M University to learn about gardening.
“They make sure we get the best training, and we’re required to get a certain amount of volunteer hours per year for additional training to maintain a level of competence,” Mendeck said. “The gardens here are open to the public so they can come by, look and take photos. We’re here for them; it’s an educational process.”
There are 13 different types of gardens at the Master Gardeners meeting place at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office. Gardens include vegetable, floral, an adaptive garden for handicapped members, a bog garden and an herb garden.
Sharon Walker, a member since 2009, said members of the organization devote their time to working on the gardens weekly, along with participating in outreach programs.
“We come every week on Wednesday mornings to work on the demonstration gardens,” Walker said. “We also have outreach education programs for the community.”
Linda Crum, a member with the Master Gardeners program since 1996, said the volunteer group has recently seen many people moving in from out of state and having gardening trouble due to the different climate of Texas.
“They’ll come from New Jersey, and they have to flip their brain around to garden in Texas,” she said. “They’re unfamiliar with growing conditions and the types of plants we have.”
Mendeck said even though volunteers spend a lot of hours gardening, members of all ages love being part of the organization.
“We have all ages here, all the way to 85 years old,” he said. “Through it all we have a good time. If we didn’t enjoy it, we wouldn’t stick around.”