Lighthouse for Learning, which is a cooperative effort between Waxahachie ISD and the Texas A&M Extension Agency, Ellis County Master Gardeners and other organizations and businesses, provides lifelong learning opportunities for area residents and offers a full slate of education classes.

Included in the list of classes is Arlene Hamilton’s class “Gifts from the Garden – Jams, Jellies and More.”

Hamilton, who grew up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania where her family “raised and grew” all their food, shares her expertise on how to maximize the use of a home garden.

“Having grown up on a dairy farm, it came naturally to me to grow and use herbs, vegetables, fruits and berries,” she said. “Combining the flavors of different herbs with the bounty of the garden has become a lifelong hobby.”

When Arlene and her husband, John, moved to Waxahachie in 2000, she turned her backyard into herb beds and joined the Ellis County Master Gardeners to learn the unique growing conditions of the Texas black-land soil.

“The first time I taught an herb class, a friend gave me a river stone that was painted with the words, ‘to teach is to learn,’ ” 

she said. “I knew then I was home.”

She said she loves sharing her knowledge of growing herbs with others but finds many times the questions are about how to use the herbs other than snipping a few sprigs of parsley or chives over a salad or egg.

“With the holidays coming, the purpose for ‘Jams, Jellies and More’ is to teach simple but unique gift making ideas,” she said. “The students will learn basic canning techniques as well as food safety when preserving. I will be sharing fresh herbs from my garden and there will be lots of sampling – everyone will go home with a one-of-a-kind gift that they will create during class.”

In addition to being an Ellis County Master Gardener, Hamilton is a member of the Greater Fort Worth Herb Society and the Herb Society of America. She has presented programs, workshops and lectures throughout Texas and the Midwest.

For further information about “Gifts from the Garden” course, contact Melissa Cobb, community education director at 972-923-4631 or email

Contact Paul at or 469-517-1450.