Meet Your Consumer Horticulture Agent – July Staff Highlight

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Alison Arnold, Consumer Hort Agent

Alison Arnold is our Buncombe County Consumer Horticulture Agent. She also coordinates the NC State Extension Master GardenerSM Gardener program of Buncombe County which involves recruiting and training new Extension Master Gardener volunteers and helps to coordinate the many activities and events that are offered annually. The Buncombe program has 80 certified gardeners, 17 interns, 7 transfers, and 24 emeritus. Our mission is education outreach about all things gardening. We help people learn how to garden and solve their gardening problems. Some of our outreach activities include: online and in-person gardening education classes for adults, youth programs, garden helpline, plant clinics, plant sale and more.

Alison truly loves talking about plants and working with people. She worked at the NC Arboretum for 16 years early when they were developing the gardens, trails and programs. She has also worked in several perennial nurseries, had her own gardening business, and washed test tubes in college.

Alison has had many memorable events as the Consumer Horticulture Agent. Her most memorable one is when she made a site visit to a house to look at a large old red maple. This was back in the day when Agents were able to make house visits! She went and had a lovely visit with the tree and the a nice chat with the owner. She made a recommendation that they call an ISA certified arborist to make a more detailed assessment since their house was possibly in danger. As she was leaving the homeowner asked if she wanted to see her baby. Alison said “Of course!”. After entering the house, the woman said to wait and she would wake the baby up and come back out. When she came out she was holding a 20 pound possum! She remarked ‘Isn’t she adorable?”‘ and of course Alison said ‘YES” and reach out and petted the “baby”.

Alison is originally from Atlanta, GA. She loves gardening, reading, hiking and being with her family, dogs and friends. She’s also volunteered for Hospice and has been interested in end of life issues for a number of years.

Alison lives in Fairview with her husband, John Dickson, 2 Newfoundland dogs – Arlo and Aika, 4 brush eating goats – Myron, Paco, Gingersnap and Nora. She recently starting getting visits from a real baby possum who they’ve named Ruckus!