The Virginia Cooperative Extension-Prince William Unit (VCE) has provided a community-based horticulture helpline.
A 100-year-old organization, the VCE is dedicated to gardening education, and operates alongside Virginia State University and Virginia Tech.
Many of the volunteers have taken classes and internships to gain the status of master gardener, according to a press release from Prince William County. The organization is still alive to this day because of their dedicated volunteers.
The VCE has recruited some of their master gardener volunteers to assist with its new helpline. Some volunteers may help one another answer a question if an immediate answer could not be confirmed.
“Every now and again, we get very strange questions, but for the most part, we are able to answer them,” VCE Agriculture Extension Agent Thomas Bolles describes in a press release.
The helpline is not the only outlet for clients to ask questions. They may ask the master gardeners who volunteer at the Dale City and Manassas farmer’s markets. However, the helpline makes it easier for volunteers to answer more questions, and for clients who may not be able to come to the farmer’s markets.
In Prince William County, the most common questions are about lawn care. The VCE has created the Best Lawns Program, which is where master gardeners are sent to a lawn to gather samples. These samples are then tested in a lab and the results are given to the client. The client will receive information about what type and amount of fertilizer is best for their lawn. The program will also provide recommendations if there are concerns about weeds or pests.
In addition, the VCE has other services to help clients with general questions, as well as ones about safety. The extension distributes kits for testing well water if a client is concerned about drinkability, then provides further information for how to properly treat well water.
The VCE also offers classes focused on vegetable production and lawn care. Since horticulture education is of great importance, school gardens have been established in over 100 schools in the Greater Prince William area.
To receive answers to any gardening questions, call 703-792-7747 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit Virginia Cooperative Extension or watch this video about the extension.
This article is written by Contributing Writer Lily Brown.