Central Alabama Master Gardeners

Daniel Dye / The Herald

Central Alabama Master Gardeners Association president Sandy Rosemond holds a hand-made ornament made to look like a turkey out of items found in nature including acorns, a pine cone and turkey feathers. Making ornaments for the Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce's tree was one of the group's recent efforts to give back to the community.

When Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce president Shellie Whitfield needed help decorating a Christmas tree, she called on members of Central Alabama Master Gardener Association (CAMGA).

When the home of Alabama’s governor and neighboring Hill House need decorations for the holidays, the same members are there.

The group prides itself on giving back to the community and helping it in ways such as this.

CAMGA members created over 300 decorations for the tree. Almost all the items that went into making the decorations came from outdoors. Acorns, lichens, turkey feathers, gourds, pheasant feathers and dried fruit were just a few of the items members used to create the decorations.

“The tree is perfect,” Whitfield said. “To see children come in and the look on their faces, it’s great.”

The association trains selected gardeners who can assist and extend the work of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

According to CAMGA president Sandy Rosemond, members volunteer their time and expertise to support the extension’s efforts related to education and service. 

CAMGA has 40 to 50 active members.

Rosemond said decorating the tree for Wetumpka’s Dickens Christmas this past weekend was a great way to bring the members together and raise awareness of CAMGA during the event.

“Decorating this tree is an opportunity to let the public know we are there for them if they need help,” Rosemond said. “We have a phone line if you need help with gardening. We do want people in Wetumpka and the area to know if they are having issues with their gardens that we are there for them.”

Rosemond said every Thursday CAMGA is assigned to take any calls that come in the help line., which is open March until August.

“People call in with gardening problems,” she said. “If we don’t know the answer, we will look up an answer (or) call professors in Auburn and in the (Elmore) County Extension office.”

Rosemond said the extension office is a huge resource in supporting CAMGA.

CAMGA member Charlotte Hall said becoming a master gardener involves volunteering and taking an 11-week class hosted by Auburn University, the county extension office and master gardeners.“You have to donate to the public a minimum of 25 volunteer hours,” she said. “Master gardeners from Elmore, Montgomery and Autauga counties go every Monday to work in the governor’s gardens.”

The organization holds a Lunch and Learn from noon to 1 p.m. the second Tuesday of every month at the county extension office located at 340 Queen Ann Rd. in Wetumpka.

Hall said CAMGA members also participate in a program called Harvest for Health.

The program is an at-home gardening intervention for cancer survivors who have completed their primary cancer treatment.

“Harvest for Health pairs a master gardener with a cancer survivor,” Hall said. “The program furnishes the materials to build a raised garden or garden boxes. The cancer survivors are encouraged to get outside and grow things and eat healthier. The master gardener mentor meets with cancer survivor and helps with their garden.”

Hall said several CAMGA members are mentors in this program.

“My survivor and I became good friends,” Hall said. “I’m the liaison now that reports for the ones in our area to UAB and Auburn. I’ve noticed that all the gardeners and survivors have all become really good friends.”

For more information about CAMGA, visit camga.net/ or call 334-567-6301.