This is part 3 of a 3 part series, written by Val McGruder, Hennepin County Master Gardener

Working for the Annual Plant Sale and Learning Garden Tour

Note: The Hennepin County Master Gardener program is 100% self-funded. We have two main annual fundraisers. These fundraisers allow the master gardeners to serve the Hennepin County community, providing materials, translators, plants, and the like.

April: I joined a team of creative master gardeners called the “Garden Shed” and we made gazing balls from bowling balls, and wine bottle wind chimes for the annual Master Gardener Learning Garden Tour. It was fun to be part of this group and share my passion for creating as well.

For the annual plant sale, which is a fundraiser for the master gardener program, I signed up to be part of a group that dug up perennials from a fellow master gardener’s garden. Though the day was rainy, chilly and quite muddy, it was FUN! At the end we all trooped into her cozy house and she provided us with warm beverages and great food as we shared our stories and bonded over our accomplishments.

May: The plant sale itself was another group effort of setting up tables, unloading donated plants from cars, arranging the plants into specific categories and doing other jobs to make the sale a success. My mentor suggested that 10 hours in one day might be a bit too much so I took one shift instead of two. Good suggestion!   I was glad to be part of the sale and met lots of friendly fellow master gardeners to boot.

June: I volunteered to stuff gift bags for the annual Learning Garden Tour.   Our group of 12 master gardeners formed an assembly line approach to the task.   I must say, we put those 280 bags together in record time and had a chance to chat and giggle as we did it.

July: I also decided to be a garden tour greeter and was awed by the home and the garden I chose. We were given our instructions by the site coordinator and paired up with another master gardener. We rotated in our roles as greeters at the garden entrance, handing out wrist bands and other materials to each guest. We walked around the garden, answering questions and making each guest feel comfortable. I enjoyed it very much and I think each one of us contributed to the over-all success of the event.

Go For It

One of the guests I encountered at the tour asked me about becoming a master gardener. I told him a little about the application procedures, deadlines, and the core course. I shared my enthusiasm with him, emphasizing how much I had learned, the opportunities for growth, the chance to teach/help people, the confidence I have gained, and the feeling of being a respected and valued part of a great team.   I handed him the bookmark with the University of Minnesota extension information on it and told him to “Go for it!” He smiled and thanked me and as he walked away, making me smile with him.

The Goal

I am delighted to report that I have over 150 hours of volunteer time and almost 35 hours of education, and I am not yet finished with the year.  I am so happy that I challenged myself this year. I feel like I have grown in every way and I look forward to the end of the year when I will be recognized as an official certified master gardener! Next year I hope to pursue other opportunities including adult education/public speaking and possibly social media.   The sky is the limit!

For more information on becoming a master gardener, including the process and timing, please visit