Okaloosa County Master Gardeners' voluntary efforts recognized (PHOTOS)

Published: Monday, July 15, 2013 at 06:49 PM.

The gardeners also operate the County Extension testing laboratory; operate a speakers bureau for organizations and gardening clubs; and run Fort Walton Beach’s Master Gardener nursery.

"You're not on your own when it comes to home horticulture," Master Gardener Carol Rose said. "If you move here from anywhere else, you'll know gardening in sand is just difficult. We're here to help."

"I'm just astounded by the amount of valuable volunteer work this organization does," County Commissioner Dave Parisot said during the awards luncheon.

Potential Master Gardeners must apply and interview for admission to the program's 50-hour training classes; pass a comprehensive examination; and work under a mentor before becoming certified.

This year, 31 newly graduated Master Gardeners, the largest class Williams ever instructed, received their diplomas at the awards luncheon. They will be certified following mentor internships.

Then they can operate the phones and address often-memorable gardening questions such as a query Shari Farrell received about 15 years ago.

"This woman called and said, 'Was I right in turning off the water to my neighbors' house while they were on vacation, because it was overflowing on my property and I was getting fungus on my lawn?'" Farrell said.

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