Conway woman earns Master Gardener honor

Carol Rolf Originally Published January 13, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated January 10, 2013 at 5:55 p.m.
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Carol Rolf

Jane Burrow points out the rosemary in her herb garden. Burrow is the 2012 Faulkner County Master Gardener of the Year.

— As a child, Jane Burrow remembers digging potatoes and shelling peas and butter beans from her parents’ garden.

Today, Burrow likes to spend time digging irises, daylilies, vegetables and herbs in her own gardens on the outskirts of Conway.

Burrow is the 2012 Faulkner County Master Gardener of the Year. She joined the organization in 2006 and logged approximately 200 volunteer hours with the group in 2012; only 20 hours are required after the first year of membership. She also logged more than 100 learning/education hours.

“I have never seen anyone as ready, willing and able as Jane was when it comes to volunteering for projects,” said Glenda Bell, 2012 president of the Faulkner County Master Gardeners. “She’s fun to work with and always has a positive and happy attitude while working.”

In addition to working on gardening projects, Burrow was secretary of the 2012 Faulkner County Master Gardeners Executive Board and secretary of County 76, a state-level Master Gardeners organization that helps set policy for and provides guidance to county programs.

“Jane felt many others were just as or more deserving of the award, but we use a formula for selecting this award, and Jane definitely won it hands down,” Bell said.

“I love Master Gardeners,” Burrow said. “It’s such a good group of people. It’s a blessing to be able to work with them and to mentor others that I might not have met in any other way.”

Burrow worked on many projects with the Master Gardeners, including a youth garden off Middle Road in Conway.

“That’s one of my favorites,” she said with a smile. “We are there every Monday after school. The kids and their parents can come, dig in the dirt and plant vegetables. Then they can harvest what they’ve planted and take the vegetables home with them. It’s a real fun project.

“I also help with the Legacy Garden at the Natural Resource Center and the annual plant sale, which is held each year in May.”

Burrow graduated from Mount Holly High School in Union County in 1972.

“That was before consolidation,” she said. “It’s now part of the Smackover School District.”

She came to Conway after high school graduation to attend the University of Central Arkansas.

“I am an occupational therapist by trade,” she said. Burrow retired in 2005 from the Conway School District.

“Overall, I worked for about 30 years, mainly in pediatrics. We lived in Nashville, Tenn., while my husband, Pat, was in law school. We moved from there to Pine Bluff, where I worked at the Jenkins Center from 1981 to 1997.”

The Jenkins Memorial Center provides therapeutic classes for people with disabilities.

The Burrows moved to Conway when she took the job with the Conway School District. Her husband is an attorney in Little Rock.

They have one son, Stephen, 24, who is the executive chef at Forty Two, the restaurant in the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock. Stephen and his wife, Jordan, live in Sherwood with their sons, Brayden, 7 1/2, and Hunter, 3.

“We laugh, as Master Gardeners, saying we don’t have time to spend in our own yards,” Burrow said. “That’s true. I volunteer for a lot of projects, and I pick up the grandboys at school several times a week.”

Burrow said she was “blessed” last summer by being able to take a trip to France with her husband and another couple.

“We visited the gardens at Versailles and saw fields of blooming flowers throughout the Loire Valley,” she said. “I especially loved the sunflowers.

“I had been to Hawaii, where the gardens are so lush,” she said. “I didn’t think I would ever see anything more beautiful than those gardens, but what we saw in France was spectacular. I came back inspired, overwhelmingly inspired.”

The Burrows live on almost 6 acres off Acklin Gap Road in Conway.

“I enjoy the native habitat we have here,” she said, looking out at a grove of cedar trees and hardwoods. “I’ve tried to leave the native trees and plants and add to them. We have lots of birds and wildlife, from skunks to deer, possums and raccoons.”

She has several raised beds where she grows tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables. She also has an herb garden where she grows some herbs all year long — rosemary, oregano and thyme — and has to plant others, such as basil, each year.

A recent addition to her gardens is irises, including many of the purple-and-white variety that came from gardens tended by her grandmother and husband’s grandmother.

“It’s neat to have flowers that have been passed on to me from family and friends,” Burrow said.

“God has blessed me with many family members and friends who have shared their love of gardening,” she said. “My mother-in-law always has a vegetable garden and shares the produce. My sister, who passed away unexpectedly a little over a year ago, loved plants, and we often talked ‘plants,’ visited gardens together and shared information. Both of my brothers also garden. My brother and his wife, who live in southern Arkansas, are both Master Gardeners in Union County. My other brother vegetable-gardens, and his wife has a ‘green thumb.’”

Burrow has also planted daylilies for the first time.

“I’ve never had them and am anxious to see how they do,” she said. “I like a little bit of everything in my gardens. My gardens are works in progress.”

Up until recently, Burrow worked with Habitat for Humanity.

“I did that for a number of years in Pine Bluff,” she said. “It’s always been one of my loves, as is my church, Grace United Methodist Church of Conway.”

She also enjoys handwork and has just started knitting.

Her next project with the Faulkner County Master Gardeners will be that of chairwoman of the membership committee.

“That includes recruitment and retention,” she said. “We just began training for our new class in October, so we will begin seeking applicants for the next class later this year. We have about 175 members on the books, but all are not active at this time.”

Burrow said membership in the Faulkner County Master Gardeners is open to anyone.

“It’s a real learning group,” she said. “If you just have a love for getting out there and digging, you are more than welcome.”

For more information on the Master Gardener program, call the Faulkner County Cooperative Extension Service at (501) 329-8344.

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