The WVU Extension Master Gardener Program provides people interested in gardening with the opportunity to expand their knowledge and sharpen their skills by taking part in a focused, 10-week training program that provides in-depth training in various aspects of horticulture outlined in the program topics. The program is offered in 44 of the 55 West Virginia counties through the county Extension offices.
Trained volunteers, through the West Virginia Master Gardeners Association (WVMGA) and in coordination with the WVU Extension Service, help people better understand horticultural and environmental issues by community engagement through gardening and beautification projects at schools, parks, public institutions, community organizations, and other locations.
Under the leadership of Mira Danilovich (WVU Extension Service Statewide Master Gardener Coordinator) and key county Extension agents, master gardeners are making significant contributions in their communities. Currently, there are over 1,200 active master gardeners in W.Va. In recent years, master gardeners across the state volunteered approximately 30,000 hours annually to their local communities and provided leadership for 95 community service projects, while interacting with 19,000 adults and 2,500 youth.
Members of the Greenbrier Master Gardener Association have assumed a leadership role in the development and maintenance of the demonstration garden at the State Fair of W. Va.’s fairgrounds in Fairlea. Every August, master gardeners from around the state travel to Fairlea to volunteer in the garden and provide on-site assistance by answering visitors’ questions and by giving tours to explain the various garden diplays.
During the 2013 State Fair, more than 400 people a day walked through the “Rainbow” demonstration garden.
In 2007, the West Virginia University Building was dedicated at the fairgrounds. This building, adjacent to the gardens, provides a perfect site for exhibits, demonstrations, and classes by WVU Extension Service faculty and volunteers. Both the new garden and WVU building are very active during the state fair.