Patricial Fleming (below) is gearing up to teach Earthwise Garden's upcoming Organic Master Gardener course

Patricial Fleming (below) is gearing up to teach Earthwise Garden's upcoming Organic Master Gardener course

Not your garden-variety course

Earthwise appeals to new crop of hardcore organic gardeners

Patricia Fleming has her hands full.

Not only does she tend to the daily upkeep of the Boundary Bay Earthwise Garden and Farm – soiled hands and all – Earthwise Society’s executive director is gearing up to be, for the fourth year, a teacher.

Starting on April 8, and running for the following 16 weeks, Earthwise Society is hosting the spring semester of its annual Organic Master Gardener course.

It’s not for the faint of heart, nor the casual gardener – not at around $700 a pop.

The course is aimed at both enthusiastic home gardeners and landscape professionals (working in both design and maintenance) looking to upgrade their credentials.

Fleming describes the course as an “intense” combination of classroom study and hands-on exercises for those with already a good knowledge of gardening.

“It’s like being in school,” she notes. “There are assignments you have to do.”

In recent years, with new pesticide bylaws, there has been an increase in interest in organic gardening.

“There’s more demand on landscape professionals to maintain a garden without the use of chemicals,” explains Fleming.

“It helps them build up their credentials and market themselves to potential clients – to put something after their name.”

The Organic Master Gardener course provides continuing education credits in arboriculture and landscape agriculture and can lead to eligibility for an examination that leads to certification in organic land care from the Society for Organic Urban Landcare (SOUL).

To teach the course, Fleming will be joined by Jennifer Ryan, an instructor of horticulture at the University of the Fraser Valley.

The course will focus on healthy soil, the basis of all organic gardening.

Students will learn about composting, small-space urban landscaping, water-wise planting, gardening for habitat, Japanese zen gardens and edible gardens.

Students will be provided with a textbook and access to resource materials through an Earthwise “online campus.”

The Organic Master Gardener program will run every Monday from 6-9 p.m. from April 8 to June 24, including a few weekends.

Tuition is $695 plus HST.

To learn more, email info@earthwisesociety.bc.ca, visit www.earthwisesociety.bc.ca or call 604-946-9828.

The Boundary Bay Earthwise Garden and Farm is located at 6400 3 Ave.

bjoseph@surreyleader.com