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The cold weather of winter is the time to plan for future gardens. The Cass County Master Gardeners group is again offering grant money to be used in the 2016 growing season, to encourage gardening to grow food and/or beautify local communities. The money may also be used for gardening education purposes. The David Williams Master Gardener Grants are offered to honor the many years of service Master Gardener David Williams provided as a long-time volunteer, with the Master Gardener program and other community organizations, including a term as Cass County Master Gardener president in 2012.
 
Any Cass County not-for-profit group or individual may apply. Schools, churches, libraries, 4-H clubs, Scouts, and individuals working to improving their communities can use the money to begin or improve gardens or landscaping, or to provide education for their members or the public. To ensure the money is helping a wide variety of community organizations, groups who were funded by 2015 grants will not be eligible to apply in 2016. Each grant has a maximum value of $300. The application must also include plans for teamwork and sustainability. Consideration for the environment is also an important selection factor.
 
Applications must be received by Thursday, March 31st for consideration. They may be submitted by mail or email. Grant recipients will be informed of their selection by the end of April. For more information, or with questions, call the Cass County Extension office at 712-243-1132, email keolson@iastate.edu, or stop by the Extension Office at 805 W. 10th St in Atlantic. You may also contact committee members Carolyn Hartman, Donna Reimers or Connie Pettinger. Application forms can be picked up at the Extension Office, or printed from the Cass County Extension website- www.extension.iastate.edu/cass.

The Master Gardener program trains volunteers to develop their knowledge and skills in horticulture. These volunteers then give back to their communities through gardening service and education. The program is available in all 50 states and Canada through land grant university Extension programs such as Iowa State University. Education courses are available throughout Iowa on a regular basis. For more information on the program, or to sign up for our next class starting in August, contact Cass County Extension Program Coordinator Kate Olson, at 712-243-1132 or keolson@iastate.edu.