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Question Concerning Master Gardener and SFG

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Question Concerning Master Gardener and SFG

Post  Unmutual on 5/6/2011, 7:09 am

I'm looking at taking Master Gardener Training this year, and there is, in bold, this statement on the application: As a Master Gardener, I promise not to use my title in connection with any commercial enterprises or to promote any commercial products.

Where, exactly, does SFG fall? I know I can buy SFG items like the book, beds and accessories, but most of the information that you need is easily available for free and SFG has a non-profit side(though I would highly suggest buying the book regardless).

If I were to also complete the SFG class, I can teach SFG for free, but I can also get wholesale items from the SFG store. Although SFG is being taught around the world to feed the hungry, it also has a for profit side. I guess I don't do well with those gray areas...

What I personally get from SFG, through reading the book at least, is that this is a movement to help people be more self sufficient, get some wholesome food in their diet, and to learn an easier(less work, less resources) way to do this.

Though I have never seen the SFG tv show(I've seen clips here and there..I think youtube has some), I would assume that all the basics(Mel's Mix, how to make a SFG bed, how to trellis, how to train plants up the trellis, pest control with interplanting of marigolds and other flowers and even how to make your own compost) were covered in this program, again, for free to the viewers.

So if I were to complete the MG training class and the SFG training class, I am assuming that these 2 won't conflict unless I try to sell stuff or to charge for the SFG classes(if I leave that MG bit out and do a class just about SFG then I'm okay). However, separating the two might be more difficult than I think.

Any help with this moral quandary would be most appreciated. If they are mutually exclusive, I think I would just skip the MG training and stick with SFG since I can learn everything I need to know in regards to MG without the title(I'd take the course more for the information and the requirement to help in the community rather than to have a title), but I really like what SFG is about and what it can do for people and planet alike.

*gets off soapbox*


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Re: Question Concerning Master Gardener and SFG

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 5/6/2011, 9:21 am

If you can't turn a profit with a title you studied and PAID to attach to your name, then what the heck is it for? The Master Gardener and Certified SFG Teacher titles, imo, are not for pretty decoration on letterhead. They are to draw income from. Otherwise, who would do that? It just makes zero sense to me.

It's like saying, "as a doctor, I promise to treat people for free and keep my day job." Mad

And, typically, all "non-profit" means is that at the end of the year, the "organization" shows a loss or a zero on their books. Don't make the mistake of thinking these organizations are not intentionally profitable. They make gobs of money when set up right. They just give a lot of it away, too. They don't HAVE to turn profit for shareholders.

There are plenty of business models within the SFG Certified Teacher program. My impression is that SFG encourages you to make money from becoming a Certified Teacher.

I think the MG thing is stating that you can't do a commercial, or endorse, The Garden Claw and throw your name out as a Master Gardener to SELL the claw. I don't think it means you can't teach classes or get paid for your time when teaching others how to garden.
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Re: Question Concerning Master Gardener and SFG

Post  camprn on 5/6/2011, 9:56 am

It is an Ethics issue and will probably be covered in a lecture portion of your training for Master Gardener. Not a big deal, you just cannot pretend you are a professional and endorse a commercial product for profit ... say, like Bob Villa and hawking Craftsman tools...SFG is a style of gardening and you can certainly cover and educate folks about it, just no kickbacks from the SFG foundation. I would say there is wiggle room for a suggested 'donation' for teaching a SFG class , to cover supplies and written materials and such.
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Re: Question Concerning Master Gardener and SFG

Post  camprn on 5/6/2011, 10:03 am

BackyardBirdGardner wrote:

And, typically, all "non-profit" means is that at the end of the year, the "organization" shows a loss or a zero on their books. Don't make the mistake of thinking these organizations are not intentionally profitable. They make gobs of money when set up right. They just give a lot of it away, too. They don't HAVE to turn profit for shareholders.

There are plenty of business models within the SFG Certified Teacher program. My impression is that SFG encourages you to make money from becoming a Certified Teacher.
Please BBG can you point to some information to back up these statements in regard to SFG And the Master gardening programs offerd in the different states? ? I had no idea that Master Gardener program was set up to certify people to make a profit... Shareholders? I am confused... I need some clarification... please.
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Re: Question Concerning Master Gardener and SFG

Post  pattipan on 5/6/2011, 10:32 am

The Master Gardener
program, conducted throughout the United States and Canada,
is a two-part educational effort, in which avid gardeners
are provided many hours of intense home horticulture
training, and in return they "pay back" local university
extension agents through volunteerism. Master Gardeners
assist with garden lectures, exhibits, demonstrations,
school and community gardening, phone diagnostic service,
research, and many other projects.

The Master Gardener training is free, but in return you are "encouraged" to volunteer your knowledge to help others and your community. Here's a little bit of history on WVU Extension's website:

http://mastergardeners.ext.wvu.edu/history_and_current_activities

pattipan
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Re: Question Concerning Master Gardener and SFG

Post  camprn on 5/6/2011, 11:07 am

pattipan wrote:
The Master Gardener
program, conducted throughout the United States and Canada,
is a two-part educational effort, in which avid gardeners
are provided many hours of intense home horticulture
training, and in return they "pay back" local university
extension agents through volunteerism. Master Gardeners
assist with garden lectures, exhibits, demonstrations,
school and community gardening, phone diagnostic service,
research, and many other projects.

The Master Gardener training is free, but in return you are "encouraged" to volunteer your knowledge to help others and your community. Here's a little bit of history on WVU Extension's website:

http://mastergardeners.ext.wvu.edu/history_and_current_activities

pattipan
PATTI! This is Awesome!!!
"The latest state project, the largest undertaken to date, is the
hosting of the 2011 International Master Gardeners Conference. This
conference will be held October 11-14, 2011 in Charleston, West
Virginia. The planning committee chose a fall date so that we could
showcase our state during the splendor of a West Virginia fall. The
conference theme is “Color It Green in a Wild and Wonderful Way”.
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Re: Question Concerning Master Gardener and SFG

Post  sfg4uKim on 5/6/2011, 11:53 am

I too read it as you cannot endorse products (SFG) using your title (MG). "Hi, I'm a Master Gardener and I suggest you buy the All New Square Foot Gardening book from me.

It's hard to believe that there isn't at least one nursery owner who is also a Master Gardener. So one would just need to keep the two entities separate.

Is there a way you can call someone in the program for clarification?

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Re: Question Concerning Master Gardener and SFG

Post  pattipan on 5/6/2011, 2:36 pm

ksroman wrote:I too read it as you cannot endorse products (SFG) using your title (MG). "Hi, I'm a Master Gardener and I suggest you buy the All New Square Foot Gardening book from me.

It's hard to believe that there isn't at least one nursery owner who is also a Master Gardener. So one would just need to keep the two entities separate.

Is there a way you can call someone in the program for clarification?

Here is the Maryland site for Master Gardeners. There is a phone number and email, so that should give you a start.

http://mastergardener.umd.edu/

I've been looking for a main website, but it seems that it is run state by state in conjunction with the Cooperative Extensions. If I find anything else I'll let you know.

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Re: Question Concerning Master Gardener and SFG

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 5/6/2011, 3:51 pm

camprn wrote:
BackyardBirdGardner wrote:

And, typically, all "non-profit" means is that at the end of the year, the "organization" shows a loss or a zero on their books. Don't make the mistake of thinking these organizations are not intentionally profitable. They make gobs of money when set up right. They just give a lot of it away, too. They don't HAVE to turn profit for shareholders.

There are plenty of business models within the SFG Certified Teacher program. My impression is that SFG encourages you to make money from becoming a Certified Teacher.
Please BBG can you point to some information to back up these statements in regard to SFG And the Master gardening programs offerd in the different states? ? I had no idea that Master Gardener program was set up to certify people to make a profit... Shareholders? I am confused... I need some clarification... please.

I am interpreting OP's question as....can I profit from SFG and still be a Master Gardener based on this statement?

I am finding it unfathomable that the Master Gardener certification, in general, is trying to tell someone that they have to offer services for free after studying and obtaining a special designation. That part I have tremendous trouble wrapping my brain around. I think it's the dumbest thing ever....regarding the powers that be in charge of the Master Gardener program.

I am pointing out that SFG is a non-profit organization. However, they make money. And, they allow you to as well, after becoming a certified teacher. And, from what I've read, they encourage you to think about the opportunities to do so.

To me, this makes much more sense. If you are going to go through the trouble of obtaining ANY specialized education, you should be able to use it to further your career or hobby if you so choose.

I was also pointing out that just because an organization is listed as a non-profit that doesn't mean they aren't trying to make money. People often confuse the two. A non-profit has to show a zero, or below, on the books at the end of the year. It doesn't often tell you who inside the organization makes what or where any excess money went. They just leave it to you to assume it went to the "cause." Not ALL non-proifts act this way, but a lot do. It's sort of a buyer beware situation. And I am not accusing SFG of being one or the other. The shareholder comment is pointing out the lack of these individuals inside a non-profit organization. Shareholders, typically, drive a corporation to show a profit. If the company wants to keep the investors' money, it has to continue to grow and show profits. Shareholders can cannibalize a corporation almost on accident. Non-profit organizations do not have shareholders that own any organizational stock. But, just because a non-profit organization doesn't have shareholders forcing profits does NOT mean that a non-profit is not trying to make money.

If you want an example of a criminally profitable "non-profit" organization, just look up ANY major state university. They are set up as non-profits, but certainly do NOT operate at a loss each year.
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Re: Question Concerning Master Gardener and SFG

Post  nancy on 5/6/2011, 4:14 pm

I can't speak at all about the Certified SFG teacher and Master Gardener conflicts. But as for the volunteering, yep - that part is true. After paying $250 for a 50-hour class (which I hope to take in the next 5 years), Hamilton County then requires 50 hours of volunteering within one year before even getting certified. To stay certified, you must volunteer an additional 20 hours a year and complete 6 more hours of on-going education. Only un-paid activites count and you have to get fingerprinted and undergo a background check before taking the class. This fall the classes are on Thursdays from 9-4, so I won't be doing it this year. Each county / state is different with their own requirements. But I believe the whole theory is intense learning that you then share. From what I've seen, I could still become a Certified SFG Teacher, but any time I spend profiting from that would not count towards my Master Gardener certification.
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Re: Question Concerning Master Gardener and SFG

Post  middlemamma on 5/6/2011, 4:24 pm

I don't know about any of this master gardener business....but I have been told that to be an SFG certified teacher you sign some sort of agreement that says you will return a % of anything you make back to the foundation. I hope WardinWake or Ksroman can confirm or rebuke this...cause I couldn't find it in writing anywhere eon the site.
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Re: Question Concerning Master Gardener and SFG

Post  Unmutual on 5/6/2011, 7:28 pm

While a lot of points that I hadn't thought about were covered, and thank you all for that. The main issue I had is this: if I do some volunteer work and that work is to show the elderly how to grow their own veggies using the SFG method, does that conflict with the MG program ethically even if I don't sell anything?

I guess I'm just not sure exactly how SFG falls as far as this goes. I probably will ask when the time comes, but I thought we had some MGs on these forums and was wondering if they might have any first hand knowledge about this. This is probably what I get for making a thread that early in the morning. Sorry if I was confusing.

But to answer some other things that came up in this thread, the MG program for my area costs $180 and requires 40 volunteer hours afterwards(10 of which has to be helping my local extension office). I didn't read anything about ongoing classes or ongoing volunteer work, but that wouldn't bother me in the slightest since I think I am at that point in my life where I want to start giving something back to the community that I've lived in for the last 25+ years.

If I can get volunteer hours for MG while also doing volunteer work for SFG, then all the better.

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Re: Question Concerning Master Gardener and SFG

Post  CindiLou on 5/6/2011, 10:05 pm

I am a MG in Iowa. I paid $125..took classes..I was then an intern... then did 40 of approved volunteer hours. Then I became a full fledge MG...I have to take 6 hrs of continuing education (easy..I have 10 hrs already) and 6 hrs of volunteer to keep certified.
Yes I can teach SFG methods. But not as a MG! If I mention the SFG method I am endorsing a product. BUT I can teach it as intense raised bed gardening. IF I am using my MG title..if I am doing it as just a private citizen then I can use the SFG method.
Yes, I can make money while using MG title. Suggested but not required to donate money above expenses to local extension district.

The Master Gardening program in Iowa is a teaching/community volunteer program sponsored by a state school. Therefore it cannot endorse any product for profit. Just as I cannot mention any use for herbs that is not FDA approved.

For example, I am working in a store greenhouse. They wanted a MG. But I do not officially use the title. It is just for the comfort of the boss...rofl...some think MG's know everything! But basically they wanted someone that they knew would properly take care of the plants.
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Re: Question Concerning Master Gardener and SFG

Post  boog1 on 5/7/2011, 2:00 pm

this is what i found up here in michigan



Washtenaw County- MSU Extension
Master Gardener Program

January 12 – April 6, 2011
Wednesday’s
9:30 am to 2 pm

Classes will be held at the
Washtenaw County Western Service Center, 705 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor.
Applications are obtained by attending an Informational Meeting in November at the
Washtenaw County Western Service Center, 705 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor. To sign up for an informational meeting contact the MSU Extension office at (734) 997-1678.
Master Gardener Course Fee: $300.00
**Do not send money without obtaining an application


said the same basic thing about 40 + hours of volinteer work yada yada wayy to much money fer me


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Re: Question Concerning Master Gardener and SFG

Post  dizzygardener on 5/7/2011, 2:12 pm

I'm a master gardener in NC.

Master Gardeners are volunteers who are certified to assist the community with gardening questions. We cannot profit from our designations or use our designations to promote a for-profit enterprise.

Those who spend the money to buy the materials and take the classes do so because they are interested in volunteering in their communities. They do not do it so that they can make a profit.

This is not to say that you can't be an SFG teacher and a Master Gardener. You just keep the two things separate.

There are many farmers, nursery owners, etc in my Master Gardener association. They just volunteer with the MG and profit from their businesses separately.

If you aren't interested in giving back to the community without getting something in return then I'd suggest that you skip the MG certification.
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Re: Question Concerning Master Gardener and SFG

Post  sfg4uKim on 5/7/2011, 3:34 pm

Yes, you "tithe" to the Foundation on your profits (except for what you purchase from the Foundation)

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Re: Question Concerning Master Gardener and SFG

Post  Unmutual on 5/7/2011, 9:00 pm

Thank you very much for the information, it's good to know that they aren't mutually exclusive enough for me to not do both of them, and to teach SFG as a form of intensive gardening(since that's what it is) as a MG is doable, so much the better. They are both worthy causes in my book and they compliment each other in their goals also.

Now to fill out that application...

As far as being an SFG teacher goes, I'm doing that as we speak, though I'm a tad bit nervous about the video part. Giving back 10% to the SFG Foundation is no biggy to me since I'm mostly looking at all of this to give back something anyway.

Again, thank you very much everyone. This was most helpful.

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Master Gardeners

Post  sbhoward on 5/10/2011, 1:45 pm

I lost interest in the Master Gardener Program when all of them I tried to look into only held classes during mid day and in mid-week. When asked why, all they could answer was that was the time of week they wanted their volunteers to be free. If they couldn't attend class.... (fill in the blank)

Even the local volunteer opportunities around here that were open to anyone are only held midweek, never any weekends or otherwise.

I didn't need anyone making it this hard to donate time too.
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Re: Question Concerning Master Gardener and SFG

Post  SFGHQSTAFF on 5/19/2011, 2:36 pm

Just wanted to point out that we heartily encourage SFG teachers to make money using the SFG method if they would like. I have no problem with donating to the community (I do many free classes on my own time) but we have many SFG certified teachers that make a good living out out an SFG business. Some do a ton of classes and sell merchandise, some do custom installs in homes or offices, etc. I am always looking for ways of helping those who would like to make some money with SFG to do so. In fact, I tell people in classes I teach that if you have lost your job, don't bother trying to find a cheap 'whatever I can get' one. I tell them to start an SFG. If nothing else, the produce you grow for yourself will save you considerable money in your food budget, which directly translates to the bottom line. We encourage people to use the 'SFG certified instructor' designation to their advantage!

By the way, for those Master Gardeners going to the international master gardener conference, we'd love to be able to get in on that and see if someone from the foundation could speak at the conference. If anyone knows someone on the inside and could get us an invitation, I'd really appreciate it! Alan
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Re: Question Concerning Master Gardener and SFG

Post  Unmutual on 8/23/2011, 3:51 pm

For anyone else that was wondering about this, I found out the answer today. As a Louisiana Master Gardener, I can promote the method, but not the book(or anything else that is for sale). To be honest, this was quite a relief for me since I do like this method of vegetable gardening above all the others that I have tried. I would have found it difficult to talk to someone about veggie gardening without mentioning SFG.

Apparently SFG is the method that is used by the LSU AgCenter at schools and some community gardens in Louisiana.

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