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Learn master gardening techniques in Summit County

Janice Kurbjun
Summit Daily News

After a two-year absence, Colorado State University Extension’s master gardener class is returning to Summit County.

Starting Jan. 26 and running every Thursday through March 29, the class delves into everything from soils to entomology to basic botany to water-wise landscaping.

“You can use (the knowledge) to grow flowers or vegetables,” Summit County extension office administrative clerk Beth Huron said, adding that the class was offered from 2005 to 2008 and was discontinued for a variety of factors.

The class is taught by Colorado State University and CSU extension staff and facilitated by Summit County Extension agent Dan Schroder and Huron. It’s a distance education class, Huron said, though participants meet from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break in a room at County Commons in Frisco. She said it’s equivalent to the university’s four-credit Horticulture 101 course, with the same content and materials, for a fraction of the cost. To learn the information on campus would cost $1,276 plus books and fees. The extension offering costs anywhere from $240 to $575.

The $240 fee buys a participant the Colorado Master Gardener title and includes 50 hours of volunteer time the first year after taking the class. Huron said past master gardeners have served on the board of Silvana’s Garden in Silverthorne, held public workshops to share knowledge, and planted and maintained Frisco’s Sue Cruth Memorial Garden.

For $575, participants can earn the Colorado Gardener Certificate, which doesn’t involve volunteer time. Huron said she remembers Town of Frisco and Neils Lunceford staff taking the course to enhance their gardening knowledge.

“This is great news for the community,” High Country Conservation Center community programs director Jen Santry said. “I am very interested in taking this program myself and know that it will go a long way with helping the local food production efforts and community garden projects by creating a solid group of instructors that can teach more garden workshops and trainings.”

Lynn Amstutz took the class in 2005 and for the last six years has had greater success with gardening wildflowers at high elevation in a sunny, windswept environment roughly 15 miles north of Silverthorne.

“I was doing everything wrong,” she said. “I have more success in gardening and it’s so much fun to be an expert” with access to CSU’s information, adding that it was a mental challenge and a chance to get her fingers in the dirt.

“I would recommend this to anyone who wants to learn about our Mother Earth: Your climate, your soil, your earth,” Amstutz said.

Kathy Taylor was in Amstutz 2005 class, which numbered nearly 30, she said. She’s a casual gardener with a home garden in Summit Cove, but has lent a hand at Silvana’s Community Garden and works with the Plant Select experimentation at the Sue Cruth garden. She’s since taken other classes – like bee pollinating – and says it’s surprising where taking a class like this can lead.

There’s currently no cap for the course, but registration is required. The deadline is Nov. 5.

To learn more or to register, visit http://www.extension.colostate.edu/summit or call (970)668-3595.


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