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Master Gardeners attend State Conference

Richard and Judy Lohmeyer, who received the Award of Excellence for their project involving students at Alderson Elementary School in a gardening project.

Twenty-four Greenbrier Valley Master Gardeners attended the state Master Gardener Conference at Pipestem State Park this spring.

The Master Gardener conference takes place every year at various locations throughout West Virginia and is sponsored by one of the 46 county Master Garden organizations. Greenbrier County has sponsored the state conference twice in the past few years.

Several Greenbrier County Master Gardeners were presented awards at the conference, including Judy and Richard Lohmeyer, in the photo above, who were presented the Award of Excellence. Judy was also recognized as the Greenbrier Valley Master Gardener of the year. Donna and Michael Myles received recognition as West Virginia Advance Extension Master Gardeners, which requires advanced certification training. Jake Sproul was the second Greenbrier Valley Master Gardener to receive recognition for 20 years as a volunteer Master Gardener. Willa Izzo was previously recognized as a 20-year Master Gardener. Both women had been early volunteers with other Master Gardener organizations.

The State Master Gardener Conference offered a number of classes on a variety of topics of interest to gardeners. The keynote speakers included Parker Andes, Director of Horticulture at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina and Dr. Thomas Chao, who discussed the apple collection of the plant Genetic Resources Unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Other presentations included identifying new vegetable varieties, encouraging beneficial insects, recommended annual flower plantings and best smart phone apps for gardeners.

The Greenbrier Valley Master Gardeners was organized in 2002 by Willa and Pat Izzo in conjunction with the Greenbrier County Extension Agency. The organization offers yearly classes every fall for anyone interested in becoming a Master Gardener. There are ten weekly classes leading to certification. They begin the week after Labor Day. Further information about the classes will be published later this summer.

The Greenbrier Valley Master Gardeners are involved in several community projects. There are currently three schools who have gardening projects for students led by Master Gardeners, including Alderson Elementary, Frankford Elementary and Lewisburg Elementary schools. The Greenbrier Valley Master Gardeners also recently were involved in assisting residents of  Seasons Place in Lewisburg in planting a number of garden boxes with vegetable and flower plants. The Master Gardeners also planted and watched over the plantings at the Greenbrier River Trailhead in Caldwell. In addition, Master Gardeners coordinate with the Lewisburg chapter of America in Bloom for various plantings in the Lewisburg area. The gardeners recently had a successful plant sale, their primary fund raiser, at the fairgrounds despite some early rain showers.

The major project of the Greenbrier Valley Master Gardeners has been the Demonstration Garden at the WV Fairgrounds. The Demonstration Garden has been a work in progress for many years and requires the hard work and inspiration of many Master Gardeners. There are new plantings every year as well as maintenance of perennial plants and trees. One relatively new area of the garden is the Memorial Garden created in memory of past master gardeners and loved ones who have passed. Other established areas of the garden include the children’s garden, the herb garden and the heritage garden.

The State Fair of West Virginia will soon be upon us. When you come to the fair be sure to visit the Demonstration Garden at the north end of the fair grounds. Information about the Greenbrier Valley Master Gardeners and their classes and projects can be found at the Greenbrier County Extension Office in Fairlea. The telephone number is (304) 647-7408.

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