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Training center sought for Harrison County gardeners

by James Fisher

REGIONAL WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- Harrison County Commissioner Roger Diaz has a deep dark secret: He gardens. And he apparently is not alone.

Shinnston businessman Lee Reger, who also is a member of the Harrison County chapter of the West Virginia Master Gardener's Association, says that the county ranks very high in the nation in the percentage of backyard gardeners.

To further the "growing" gardening movement, Reger and the other members of the master gardener's group want to establish a permanent area for training and community service at the 4-H center on W.Va. 20 north of Clarksburg.

Master gardeners in the state are required to have an initial 30 hours of training and community service, Reger said, followed by six hours of both each year.

Because the Harrison County chapter is relatively new, the group is facing some challenges, including finding ways to better volunteer hours, maintaining and increasing the group, creating educational opportunities for county residents and creating a vision for future members.

"We'd like to start a project to give our people a better training situation," Reger told commissioners Thursday. "That's our main focus -- to train people."

Reger said the 4-H property is a perfect place for the project, as there are about 90 acres of land at the site that could be used for the demonstration garden project. Reger said the group wants to start small. He asked commissioners for about 2,500 square feet of land for the initial part of the project, slated to deal with deer proofing.

"I can see this growing into several different plots and maybe even a greenhouse or arboretum," he said. "The main thing is that we don't want to interfere with any other functions."

Commission President Beth Taylor said she is excited about the project.

"There are portions of the lawn area there that are not currently being used for recreational purposes and I feel this is an excellent opportunity for the Master Gardener's Association to make optimum use of the land area for the benefit of all residents," she said.

Diaz asked Reger to submit an official proposal, detailing the exact location of a preferred plot and the project.

Regional writer James Fisher can be reached at 626-1446 or by e-mail at jfisher@exponent-telegram.com.

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