Master gardener? Not quite yet

by Caroline Brown

Last week I finished up the master gardener training class at URI–here’s my completion certificate. It’s good to be finished with class although I’ll miss a few buddies that I made. Hopefully I’ll see them around in different volunteer events.

Finishing the class doesn’t make me an “official” MG yet, though. I still have to complete 50 hours of volunteer work. By my account, I’m halfway there. Yesterday, I volunteered to work at the East Farm Spring Festival in Kingston, RI.

Some spring festival. It had rained for two days in a row and everyone knew it was going to rain Saturday, but the festival was scheduled rain or shine. Luckily, I was scheduled to be inside…I helped set up & clean up the food service for all the volunteers. Cons: It was very non-gardening-related and not particularly interesting. Pros: I talked to some really interesting people and got first dibs at the food.

I got there at 9 as instructed, but there wasn’t really any food setup that needed to happen until 10:30 or so. So, I wandered around the festival, which didn’t start until 10, to try and commit a random act of volunteering. At the Children’s Booth, the Worm Ladies of Charleston asked me to help make the worm bins that they were going to display for worm composting (vermicomposting).

Worm composting is very cool, and what I learned in putting together the bins is that it’s much less complicated that I learned in my Master Composting class. You don’t really need to have a complicated bin; they were using plastic storage bins just like you can get at any household supply store. I wanted to buy worms right then and there but it occured to me that I should check with Curt first. To learn more about it, I bought a book called Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Applehof, known as “The Worm Woman,” a pioneer in vermicomposting and vermiculture.

More on this–including Curt’s response–in a later post. (PLEASE CURT PLEASE?!?!?!?)

Anyway…coming full circle on this little short story….I took a break when things got slow in “food service” and went to see what kinds of plants were for sale in the greenhouse. I made the mistake of wearing my MG badge. Even though it’s still just an “intern” badge, as soon as I got there, some people came up to me and asked me what kind of tree this was.

“We think it’s a birch. Can you tell?”

“I don’t know, I don’t work here. I just came over from the food tent.”

“But we thought since you had a badge….”


As soon as I turned away from them, two other people came up to me holding a pot of something.

“Excuse me miss could you tell us exactly what kind of perennial this is?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t work here. You know, I really should just take this off.”

And then I took off my badge. So I guess I have a little bit farther to go before I’m an expert. On that note, last week I started taking the six-week Tree Steward class offered by the RI Tree Council. Maybe at the next East Farm Spring Festival, I’ll be able to identify a birch tree!


6 Comments to “Master gardener? Not quite yet”

  1. Congrats Caroline!!! As I just said on my blog…you are a garden whiz that’s for sure…such a cool hobby/job/passion to pursue. I hope you share pics. of your gardens (at home and along the way in your work) as the summer progresses. I might not have a green thumb but I do appreciate the work involved and the wonder of seeing the living results.

    Cheers, G đŸ™‚

  2. Nasty! No Way!!!

    You didn’t tell everybody that the worms have to go inside the house!


    — but seriously, do I have a choice about the worms? I didn’t think so. I just hope the cats don’t get too interested in the box of worms and turn it over. But I admit that I’m actually curious about the whole thing myself.

  3. Congratulations Caroline!!! I’m so proud! Hey, did you have to wear a hairnet at the food tent? Remember when we had to wear those hairnets when we toured the Celestial Seasonings plant in Boulder? That was SO hysterical.

    I don’t know about the worm thing…..I think I’m siding with Curt on this one. Do you think the cats would use the bins as a litterbox??? Maybe you could set it up as some postmodern art piece in your gallery…….

  4. Aw, come on guys, the worm bin has a cover! Come on, just this one, pleeeeaaasee??

    No we did not have to wear hairnets like in Boulder though I thought we’d have to. I was all worried that my hair would get on the lunchmeat, but nobody seemed to care. We did have to wear gloves though, but they only had 2 1/2 pairs. So I wore plastic baggies on my hands instead, it was as goofy looking as the hairnets.

  5. I don’t know if I like the sound of the worms eating my garbage sides kinda gross. This year for the first time though I am having incredibly good luck with my tomatoes. I am 6’0 tall and my tomato plants are all to the top of my chest tall. It is astonishing really I’ve never seen tomato plants so big.

  6. Congrats to you Caroline, you deserve it! Great post! I know I can rely on you for great gardening tips, you are a true pro!

    Thanks, Whitney

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