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Market Masters and Master Gardeners

Master Gardener Plant Clinic comes to McLean Farmer’s Market.

Six years ago, as Clay Ormsby was doing volunteer work at Greenspring Gardens Park in Annandale, he was approached by a young woman. Ormsby never imagined that their ensuing conversation would result in him agreeing to become the “Market Master” of the McLean Farmer’s Market. But Ormsby has never had any regrets about his decision to take her up on her offer.

“I really like doing it,” said Ormbsy, a Federal Highway Administration retiree who lives in Fairfax Circle.

As the market master, Ormsby is responsible for selecting and overseeing the market vendors. However, he is also in charge of keeping everyone happy.

“I have to keep the dogs and other pets out, try to settle any arguments with customers, I go in early in the morning and try to put up signs on Chain Bridge Road and I get the vendors coffee,” said Ormsby.

The McLean Farmer’s Market operates out of the Lewinsville Park parking lot, and is open every Friday morning from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Ormsby is proud of the market’s offerings.

“We have a very wide variety of vendors,” he said.

This year’s vendors include three bakers — an Amish, an American and a Turk; a herb vendor; several different flower vendors; an ice cream vendor and a variety of produce vendors. Ormsby was also able to bring a new honey vendor.

“The honey is really popular and we had a bad time last year because our honey guy died,” said Ormsby.

According to Ormsby, the Turkish baker is also a hot ticket at the market.

“She sells out at about 10:30 or 11 a.m.,” he said. “Her stuff is very good.”

THIS YEAR’S market is also offering a new feature — a plant clinic run by members of the Fairfax County Master Gardeners. The Master Gardeners Plant Clinic is offered at several other local Farmer’s Markets, but is new to McLean.

“This is the first time that we’ll be at the McLean Market,” said McLean resident Jean Wolff, a master gardener with the Fairfax County Master Gardeners.

Wolff said she hopes the plant clinic will entice more local residents to come to the Friday morning Farmer’s Market and support the vendors.

“Our goal is to help the homeowner with any questions they may have about disease or pests, or with any general gardening questions — we’re just there to try and provide some answers,” said Wolff. “They can bring us questions, and they can also bring us samples from their garden. We have a diagnostic lab that they can submit samples to.”

To become a certified Fairfax County master gardener, one must first complete a three-year internship. Once certified, each master gardener must then complete 30 hours of instruction annually, as well as 24 hours of “payback volunteer hours.”

“We probably have somewhere in the neighborhood of 240 members,” said Wolff, who has been a master gardener for 11 years.

Different master gardeners will be at the McLean Farmer’s Market every week.

“We staff these plant clinics and try and disseminate plant information to the community,” said Wolff.