- Author: Marcy Sousa
Master Gardeners are community members who love gardening and are enthusiastic to share their knowledge with others. This program offers comprehensive training in the best home gardening practices and an opportunity to use your knowledge in service to your community. Our volunteers are helping home and community gardeners reap the maximum benefits and enjoyment from gardening. Our volunteers help empower neighborhoods to foster healthier gardens, communities and a sustainable environment.
The Master Gardener program began in Washington State in 1972 and quickly expanded to other states. The first University of California programs were established in Riverside and Sacramento counties in 1980. San Joaquin County re-launched its program in 2007 and since then, the San Joaquin Master Gardeners have volunteered over 76,000 hours and have earned over 22,000 continuing education hours. The program is funded by the communities of San Joaquin County and AB939 which focuses on diverting green waste from our landfills. The Master Gardener Program enables the University of California Cooperative Extension to more efficiently share its extensive gardening resources and science-based gardening information with county residents through public service, educational outreach, and research programs.
- designing, planting and maintaining demonstration gardens
- using mass media to share gardening information
- teaching workshops and demonstrations, or lecturing on gardening practices
- participating in research activities with academics within UC
- answering gardeners' questions via email or helpline
- speaking to the public on horticultural/gardening topics
- information booths at community events
- educating and guiding parents and teachers in gardening practices in support of school gardens
Our next training will begin Jan. 23, 2024, and is open to residents of San Joaquin County. Prospective Master Gardeners will need to attend an orientation meeting in October (date TBA) and interviews that will be held in November. Those who enter the program commit to donating a minimum of 50 volunteer hours the first year and 25 hours every year after along with earning 12 hours of continuing education to remain certified. Applications can be found on our website.
Training sessions will meet on Tuesdays from 8:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Classes are taught by experts from the UC faculty and staff, landscape and nursery professionals, local horticultural educators and certified Master Gardeners that are outstanding teachers, who inspire students. Trainees must pass the weekly quizzes and take home final exam with a 70% or better. Classes will be held in person at the Robert Cabral Agricultural Center in Stockton. If we are not able to meet in person, we will host classes virtually. Applications can be found on our website. The registration fee for this program is $200, which includes a copy of the UC Master Gardener manual as well as other UC home horticulture books and covers class supplies. Class fees are not due until applicants are accepted into the program.
Becoming a Master Gardener Volunteer offers a unique opportunity to blend your love for gardening with community service. Gain expert knowledge in horticulture, foster sustainable practices, and contribute to greener neighborhoods. From connecting with fellow enthusiasts to promoting environmental stewardship, this journey empowers you to transform landscapes and lives. Cultivate your passion, share your expertise, and make a lasting impact on both local ecosystems and the people within them. Join us in nurturing nature while reaping the personal rewards of growth, camaraderie, and environmental change.
More information about our 2024 training and the application process can be found on our website at ucanr.edu/sjmg. If you have questions, feel free to contact the Master Gardener Helpline at (209) 953-6112.