Monday, April 12, 2010

Master Urban Gardener

I was very fortunate to be able to participate in the Boston Natural Areas Network's Master Urban Gardener (MUG) Program this winter!

MUG is an intensive "horticultural leadership training course for community garden volunteers."

In the class, we covered numerous topics related to community gardening, including garden operations, community garden design, plant growth, soil and soil health, pests, plant maintenance, the vegetable garden, and nutrition.

Because I have WWOOFed (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and interned with CitySprouts in the past, MUG was the perfect program for me to fill in some gaps in my gardening knowledge.

Although the classes were intense, every Saturday from 10 am - 3:30 pm with a half hour break for lunch, the classes were designed well and included a combination of lectures and interactive sessions, in which we did small group problem-solving activities with our fellow classmates. Many of the activities included scenarios that you would encounter in the community garden, such as determining which pests were attacking the cabbages (was it the flea beetles or the aphids??), and what the appropriate recommendation would be to deal with such pests.

In one class, we learned about seed starting, and we planted our own seeds to begin indoors.

Different topics were covered in the AM and PM sessions, and it was a lot of information to take in. Luckily, we were given a pretty thorough manual (which we also received a CD version of) that we used in class, that covered all the topics that we discussed in class, and that we can refer to for future reference. In addition, the 40 hours of community service required to validate the Master Urban Gardener Certificate is a great way to apply the concepts that we learned and to get more involved in community gardens and gardening related activities.

Yes, you will need to bring this manual to every class.

This program is free and open to the public! It was a wonderful opportunity to be able to take this class, and I enjoyed MUG not only for the concepts that I learned, but it was also great to meet fellow urban gardeners in the area.

Master Urban Gardener Class of 2010
*Photo courtesy of BNAN*

Thanks to Jo Ann who runs the program, the guest lecturers, and the other volunteers who help to make the class possible.

I highly recommend the Master Urban Gardener program if you are involved in community gardening. However, if you have a backyard, MUGatHOME may be perfect for you. MUG and MUGatHOME both cover various gardening topics. But while MUG focuses on community garden leadership and organization, MUGatHome focuses on landscape training and residential gardening techniques. Other programs that the Boston Natural Areas Network runs include SLUG for those involved in urban school-based vegetable gardening, and a Seed, Sow & Grow program.

If you are looking for a community garden plot, look at BNAN's community garden plot listing. Although unfortunately I don't believe I will be receiving a plot at the Fenway Victory Gardens this year, I look forward to applying the concepts that I learned with CitySprouts and BNAN's Learning Garden at City Natives this upcoming growing season.

BNAN is a non-profit organization, and they also host various events every year and offer many volunteer opportunities. To learn more about the Boston Natural Areas Network, visit their website.