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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Register now for Gardening School, Master Composter Program

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

URI offers first educational programs at Roger Williams Park Botanical Center

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – March 9, 2007 – The University of Rhode Island is launching the first two educational programs to be held at the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center in a new partnership with the City of Providence.

URI’s popular Gardening School, an eight-week program that covers the essentials of home gardening and landscaping, will be held on Monday afternoons at 2 p.m. from April 2 through May 21. Taught by URI staff and Master Gardeners, course topics will include preparing the soil, choosing fertilizers, lawn maintenance, pest management, and selecting and planting trees, shrubs, perennials and vegetables.

"There are no prerequisites for the class other than a desire to become a better gardener," said Marion Gold, director of the URI Extension and Outreach Center. "There will be no quizzes or volunteer commitments -- just good, clean, gardening fun."

April 2 is also the beginning of the six-week Master Composter & Recycler training program. Sponsored in cooperation with the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corp. and modeled after the URI Master Gardener program, this unique program is geared toward local residents, municipal public works staff, conservation commissioners and others who are interested in becoming experts at composting and recycling.

“Most people don’t realize that over 12 percent of what is sent to the state landfill is organic material that could be composted in our own backyards or at a centralized facility,” said Gold. “Composting is cheaper for society and better for the environment. So we’re looking to train interested individuals to help us spread the word and get the job done.”

The weekly two-hour sessions begin at 6 p.m. and will include such topics as the importance and benefits of composting and recycling, starting a backyard compost process, compost science, worm and innovative composting methods, and community outreach. In addition, two Saturday sessions will be scheduled to visit the state landfill in Johnston and Earth Care Farm, a commercial composting facility in Charlestown. The class will also tour Southside Community Land Trust’s City Farm.

Like the Master Gardener program, the Master Composter & Recycler program combines classroom instruction with a volunteer commitment. Those completing the program will be required to complete 30 hours of volunteer time educating the public about composting and recycling practices.

The class fee for the Spring Gardening School is $150, while the Master Composter program costs $50. For additional information or to register for the programs, contact the URI Extension and Outreach Center at 401-874-2900 or email.