The Purdue Master Gardener Program trains garden enthusiasts as volunteers to assist Purdue Extension with home horticulture education in Indiana communities. Those who complete the Purdue MG Basic Training and pass the exam are considered Master Gardener interns. To be certified as a Purdue Master Gardener, you must give back to your community by volunteering at least 40 hours.
The projects you work on must be approved in advance by the Master Gardener county coordinator. Here are some of the projects underway in Boone County, Indiana. New project ideas are always welcomed.
To remain active, each year a Purdue Master Gardener must volunteer for a minimum of 12 hours and report activity to the Master Gardener county coordinator. Note, this requirement was waived for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was modified to 6 hours required for 2021, but is back in effect for years following.
Once the Purdue Master Gardener has fulfilled his or her volunteer hour commitment for the initial certification, the individual is eligible to work toward Advance Purdue Master Gardener certification. This advanced certification requires at least 10 hours of approved additional instruction and a minimum of 25 hours additional volunteer service.
Other Advanced Master Gardener certification levels include Bronze, Silver, and Gold. The Gold level further recognizes those who have volunteered 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, and 5,000 hours. Advanced Master Gardeners who earn Gold Level – 1,000 hours will be recognized at the Annual Purdue Master Gardener State Conference. These hours are cumulative over multiple years.
Boone County Community Gardens
Mission: Grow a sustainable network of gardens to educate, eat well, and create a thriving community.
At least 2,250 children in Boone County (13.8 percent) do not know where their next meal will come from. Facing food insecurity and a rising rate of obesity, several community and faith-based organizations wanted to start community gardens, but did not know how. Two such gardens were underway, but disconnected from the community.
In 2019 a meeting to design a new garden funded through a grant resulted in the implementation of a system of four community gardens providing over 2,150 pounds of produce to local pantries and feeding programs. In 2020 we providing over 3,853 pounds to eight local partners. 2021 surpassed last year produce donation as we continue to improve our gardens. In 2023 we increased the previous amount of produce grown by 500 lbs.
Education is an important part of the garden. We involved community volunteers, some who had never gardened before. This year we partnered with the Mental Health America Boone County (MHABC) summer campers. The gardens are as much about community as food.
If you are a Master Gardener, your work in the Community Gardens counts towards volunteer hours. Our Master Gardeners are the key to tackling this massive effort. We plan to teach gardening to kids attending the Mental Health America Boone County (MHABC) summer camp in 2020. Be part of the fun!
We are looking for volunteers willing to teach gardening topics to our community members, young and old or work alongside “rookie” gardeners to teach them how to grow.
Pollinator Demonstration Garden
Look how far we’ve come! This Master Gardener team transformed an overgrown grasses garden at the Boone County 4H Fairgrounds into a pollinator habitat. This took careful planning and some hard work, but the results are amazing.
The garden was planted in May, 2018 and was ready for the 2019 Shalom Garden Tour, a fundraiser for a local feeding program. The gardens are gorgeous as we go into 2022.
You can help maintain the garden, or contact us to learn more about how to share information on local pollinators and the importance of building a suitable habitat. We’ll see you soon!
Habitat for Humanity
The Master Gardeners partner with Habitat for Humanity in Boone County. We develop a landscape plan integrating perennial plants with shrubbery. Then we work with volunteers to prepare the soil and install the plants and sod. In 2023 we will be involved in three builds – 2 in Whitestown and 1 in Lebanon.
Our projects start with a meeting with the homeowner to discuss their interest. We then visit Perennials Plus, the nursery used by Habitat. A scale drawing is created and we order the plants.
Sara Michaels heads up this fun project. On Landscape Day many volunteers of all ages come to install all the shrubs, trees, perennials and sod under the guidance of the Boone County Master Gardeners. Imagine going from bare dirt to a complete lawn and foundation landscape in just a few hours!! Quite a transformation! It is an opportunity to use our skills in landscape architecture, and we enjoy helping, encouraging and teaching gardening to the new homeowners and all our volunteers. Join us.
A Boone County Habitat for Humanity Landscape Day Beginning
A rainscaping team was formed to support and promote rain gardens from a class offered by Curt Emanual – Purdue Extension ANR Educator. There are several rain gardens throughout the community.
A grant through Thrivent allowed us to purchase and install signage at the Rain Garden adjacent to the Production community garden. The goal? To educate and encourage rain gardens through out community to manage drainage issues naturally.
Zionsville Greenfest – April 22, 2023
Boone County Master Gardeners participated in the Zionsville Greenfest held at the Zionsville Town Hall on April 22, 2023. Our pop-up tent contained displays of our Demonstration Rain Gardens, Boone County Community Gardens, Native Plant Pollinators and Food Link. We provided handouts from Purdue Extension and answered questions to all attendees about the following topics
Growing Food and Nutrition with links to Purdue’s Food Link
Boone County Community Gardens and how we are growing fresh produce for Boone County’s Food Pantries
Rainscaping and how we can control wet areas in our yards and excess water runoff into our streams
Invasive Plant Identification and Control
Planting Native Plants to encourage pollinators to visit our gardens.
We also sold native plant seed harvested from our demonstration rain garden, demonstration fairgrounds pollinator garden and our own gardens.
Native Seed Project
In 2022 Boone County Master Gardeners decided to educate and promote the planting of native pollinator plants in people’s yards. As a result we started collecting seeds from the native plants in the rain garden, community gardens, fairgrounds pollinator gardens as well as our own home gardens. Boone County Master Gardeners got together to harvest the seed and then we packaged the seed with instructions for germination. We offered the seed for a $1 /packet donation at our Gardenfest and we were overwhelmed by the community response. In 2023 we packaged more seed and offered them at Gardenfest, Zionsville Greenfest, the farmers markets in Lebanon, Whitestown and Zionsville as well as the Boone County 4-H Fair. This project offers a great chance to talk to the community about the importance of attracting pollinators to our gardens and the benefits it provides to encourage the diversity of life in our ecosystem.