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Jackee Alston and Cindy Murray will now take the helm as co-editors of the Arizona Daily Sun “Gardening Etcetera” column, which as many readers know, runs each Saturday. This week’s column will give a brief introduction and biography of the two of them.

Cindy Murray received her University of Arizona Coconino County Master Gardener certificate in the spring of 2010. She well remembers Dana Prom Smith attending one of the classes to make an appeal to prospective Master Gardeners to contribute articles to his gardening column (then called “Master Gardener”) in the Arizona Daily Sun.

About six months later, Cindy mustered up enough mettle to try her hand at writing, and with Dana’s mentoring and encouragement, she wrote her first published piece, “Fun Gardening in Flagstaff.” She has enjoyed writing occasionally for the column (now called “Gardening Etc.”) ever since, on subjects ranging from growing diverse vegetables, to the life cycles of birds and insects encountered in our landscapes and gardens.

Cindy and her husband, Hugh, have two adult children and two grandchildren. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in biology in 1977 and has worked in various entomology laboratories in Southern California. She then became a substitute teacher and a tutor. She is now retired. In her leisure time, Cindy enjoys birding, nature photography, and of course, gardening and landscaping.

Cindy feels honored to not only work with the talented writers of this column (who always inspire her to try new gardening techniques), but also to work alongside Jackee Alston as co-editor. She knows that Jackee has a treasure trove of knowledge on a host of subjects related to plants and gardening.

And Jackee feels just as honored to work with Cindy. Together they hope to make this column a benefit to those gardening or wanting to garden in northern Arizona.

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Alston is also a Coconino Master Gardener, having taken the class just a year after Cindy. Jackee’s degrees are in conservation biology, wildlife and wildland ecology, and botany and range science, all from Brigham Young University. She teaches sustainable botany (a botany class for gardeners) at NAU. She loves the challenge of growing plants — and particularly food — in northern Arizona’s tough climates.

To help others on the path to successful growing, she maintains the Grow Flagstaff Seed Library at the UA Coconino County Cooperative Extension Office. The seed library is a free service to the community, and anyone can join up to get seeds. Additionally, she and her husband, Steve, teach free gardening and baking classes around Coconino and Yavapai counties at various times of the year.

Jackee and Steve are the parents of three amazing children who don’t understand their parent’s obsession with plants, but fortunately don’t hate them for it. They’ve called Flagstaff home for over 14 years. When not in the garden and volunteering, Jackee writes books for young adults and tweens.

It is Cindy and Jackee’s hope that this column will offer knowledge and enjoyment to all those who garden or would like to garden. Each week we’ll feature growing questions asked by readers, articles and interviews from local experts around town, and what’s going on in the garden seasonally.

Please, send in questions and topics to cocogardenprojects@gmail.com or reach out to the Master Gardener hotline at 928-773-6115. Cindy and Jackee want to hear from readers and write what readers want to hear about the most. Consider this your call to action. You’ve something to say and readers want to listen.

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